MAILBAG: What could Sam Shields’ Role be with Los Angeles?

A lot has happened in the last couple weeks for your Los Angeles Rams, and understandably many of you have questions about the team. While I can’t get to all the ones you tweeted to me in this space, here’s a few answers for the week after the new league year.

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Good question, Pierson. As of right now, it seems like Shields will provide depth at outside corner behind starters Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. That’s especially because the Rams re-signed Nickell Robey-Coleman to remain the team’s slot corner.

At his best, Shields was a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback who had a knack for making interceptions. He picked off 18 passes from when he entered the league in 2010 through 2015.

But then Shields suffered what was reportedly his fourth diagnosed concussion at the beginning of the 2016 season, which sidelined him for essentially the last two years.

General manager Les Snead said that the Rams have been interested in Shields for a while, and that the club wanted to be on the corner’s list of teams to visit once he was ready to re-enter the league. And for his part, Shields said he has no more headaches and is completely medically cleared.

Obviously aware of the moves Los Angeles has made, Shields said after signing that he’s willing to play any spot to get back on the field — including on special teams. But, as we saw last year, depth at outside corner is always important. So even if Shields and Hill — and Kayvon Webster, for that matter — aren’t in the starting lineup, chances are they’ll all get a chance to play over the course of the season.

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This was going to be the lead question, but as I was writing the piece the Rams went and agreed to terms with free agent linebacker Ramik Wilson. So know that going in. Doesn’t necessarily change the answer, but it may have been a bit different.

I tend to think that the answer may be both. Alec Ogletree played a vital role within the Rams’ defense as its signal-caller, and that’s clearly the biggest void L.A. will have to fill. But Snead mentioned last week that at least internally, Cory Littleton is a player who may be able to step in and fill part of Ogletree’s role. And Snead also said, “maybe you add another piece that can do some things Alec did.”

Does that mean draft? Sure, it could. The Rams do have nine draft picks — four in the first four rounds. But L.A. could sign more ILBs on the open market. Clearly the club has already added Wilson as of Thursday afternoon — who carries the added benefit of professional experience.

But this is a position the Rams seem likely to continue to look at throughout the offseason.

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So the Rams do currently have five sixth-round picks, but in terms of packaging them to get into the second round… that sort of feels unlikely.

I see it like this. If you look at the point value chart many general managers around the league use — I checked out this one from drafttek.com — then you see that the highest point value the Rams have in the 6th round is 20.6. That’s No. 176 overall.

The lowest pick in the second round — No. 64 overall, which belongs to the Browns — is valued at 270 points. I’m not great at math, but even if you don’t account for the fact that the rest of the sixth-round picks will continue to lose value, multiplying 20.6 by five only gets you to just over 100 points.

If the Rams are going to get a pick or two in the second round, I think it’s probably more likely that the club trades down from No. 23 than trades up.

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That doesn’t appear to be the case. Snead was asked about three players who suffered injuries in 2017 last week — kicker Greg Zuerlein, tight end Temarrick Hemingway, and cornerback Kayvon Webster — and said only Webster may take a little more time to recover because of the serious nature of the injury. As a follow up, Snead was asked if that meant both Hemingway and Zuerlein were on track with their recoveries, and the general manager answered in the affirmative.

So as least for now, seems like things are looking up for the Rams’ All-Pro kicker. Yes, the Rams kept Ficken, but that appears to just be for insurance/a potential camp leg.

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There’s nothing really concrete to report when it comes to Barwin, but Snead indicated last week that the Rams are interested in bringing him back for 2018.

The GM was asked about center John Sullivan during his media availability and said, “We’re talking with John and his people right now.”

A couple days later, the Rams had come to terms with Sullivan on a new two-year deal.

What does this have to do with Barwin? Well, Snead was asked about Barwin as a follow-up question and replied, “We’re talking with them right now as well.”

So, Snead essentially said the same thing about a pair of veteran players. Because one got signed, that could mean the other is next. But as of this writing, there’s no concrete news to report.

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This is a very good question, but at this point it doesn’t quite have an answer. Davis was a key special teams contributor on the Rams since 2013, using his speed as a weapon to bring down returners. In 2017, Davis saw a bit of an expanded role on defense, but landed on injured reserve in Week 8 after suffering a quad injury. He was activated for Week 17 and the postseason, where Davis was able to contribute once again.

Certainly wish him well as he makes his way to Jacksonville for the 2018 season. But as for who will replace him, that’s probably not going to be truly determined until training camp. The Rams do have players like Blake Countess and Isaiah Johnson on their roster, who can provide depth at safety. But as for who takes the roles on special teams — it’s a little too hard to say in March.

Really appreciate the question all the way from Sweeden, though!

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I’ve seen a bunch of potential nicknames for the Rams’ secondary, and I think Jim has a good idea — let’s have a contest. I don’t know what the prize will be, and I’m not sure how we’ll determine a winner. But if you’ve got a suggestion, go ahead and tweet it to me @MylesASimmons. We’ll figure it out.

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