Countdown to Camp is a series breaking down the Rams roster by position group heading into training camp. The second installment examines the defensive backs.
The Rams' defensive back room saw key departures this offseason from both a coaching and personnel standpoint.
Secondary coach and pass game coordinator Ejiro Evero became the Broncos' new defensive coordinator, while cornerback Darious Williams signed with the Jaguars.
However, a familiar face in Chris Shula takes over as pass game coordinator and a defensive backs coach, and Jonathan Cooley promoted from assistant secondary coach to the other defensive backs coach position. Even with a handful of newcomers, the familiarity with Shula – previously outside linebackers coach – and Cooley and the returning talent should make this group a team strength again in 2022.
"It is a great challenge," Shula said in mid-April. "When you're coaching inside linebackers, you do spend a lot of time meeting in the back seven with the inside linebackers and the defensive backs. Really, the thing that excites me about the move is just the guys in the room. To be able to work with the Jalen Ramsey's, Jordan Fuller's, Taylor Rapp's, Nick Scott's, all those type of guys, David Long, it's really a great group, an experienced group, and guys that you really want to not necessarily tell what to do, but guys that you can work with and decide the best way we want to get this stuff done."
The defensive backs are led by Jalen Ramsey, who turned in his second First-Team All-Pro season and fifth Pro Bowl selection of his career last year after registering 77 total tackles (career-high), 16 pass breakups and four interceptions.
Cornerback David Long Jr., who is likely in line for a bigger role this year with Williams' departure, produced 40 total tackles, four pass breakups and one interception with five starts in 16 games played. Cornerback Robert Rochell, who had 14 total tackles, four pass breakups and one interception while starting in five of 11 games played before suffering a season-ending rib injury, faces a big second season as a potential breakout candidate for Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the safeties will benefit from not only the return of a healthy Jordan Fuller (113 total tackles, four pass breakups, one interception in 16 starts), but also the depth established by Nick Scott's emergence last season (47 total tackles, four pass breakups, two interceptions, 17 games played with one start). Meanwhile, Taylor Rapp brings plenty of starting experience with 32 through his first three seasons. Terrell Burgess also offers versatility
The Rams also added four defensive backs in the draft in Cobie Durant, Quentin Lake, Derion Kendrick and Russ Yeast, so it will be interesting to see how they factor into the rotation, or if they end up doing a "redshirt" first year as the Rams have sometimes done with players in the past. As mentioned in those newcomer updates, though, Los Angeles learned last year the value of having depth in the defensive back room, so perhaps that incentivizes finding ways to work those newcomers into the rotation.