As part of theRams.com's coverage leading into this year's NFL Draft, we will be examining selections from the Top 100 of the NFL Draft in the Sean McVay era. The series continues with a look at cornerback David Long Jr.
Before joining the Rams...
Though he played on offense and defense in high school, David Long Jr. was destined to remain on the latter once he got to college. His four-star ranking as a recruit out of Loyola High School in Los Angeles was based on analysts' evaluation of him cornerback, after all.
Appearing in four games as a true freshman at the University of Michigan in 2016, Long showed coaches enough to a full-time starting role as a sophomore. He finished with 21 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass breakups while starting all 13 games in 2017.
Long finished with 17 tackles, one interception and nine pass breakups while starting all 13 games again as a junior in 2018, earning First Team All-Big Ten honors from conference coaches. Internally, Michigan named him its inaugural Defensive Skill Player of the Year.
Confident in what he put on tape across 30 career games as a Wolverine, Long opted to forgo his senior season and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Carefully managing his expectations, he received a pleasantly surprising phone call from his hometown Rams on Day 2, informing him they would be choosing him with their No. 79 overall pick in the third round.
NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein graded Long as a prospect who was a "good backup who could eventually become a starter."
Long's rookie season mostly functioned as a redshirt year – he was inactive for eight of the Rams' 16 games – but he did get a couple of opportunities to show what he could do late in the season due to injuries at the cornerback position.
According to Pro Football Focus, Long's highest snap counts of the season came in Weeks 16 and 17, when he logged 26 against the 49ers and 52 against the Cardinals respectively. He made a season-high three tackles against the Cardinals, adding one pass breakup.
When he was announced as the Rams' 79th overall pick, it was said on the broadcast that he could potentially play the nickel or slot cornerback position. With cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman getting released and signing with the Eagles, it's possible that position could create an avenue for more playing time for Long in 2020.