One cornerback the Rams could target in each round of the 2022 NFL draft
While the Los Angeles Rams are always unpredictable in the NFL draft, it’s very possible the first position they address on Friday night (or Saturday, if they trade back) is cornerback.
Jalen Ramsey is going to play just about every snap, but Robert Rochell and David Long Jr. will be asked to step up after Darious Williams’ departure. It’s a group with potential, but also a low floor.
Whether it’s in the third round or the seventh, expect the Rams to add a cornerback at some point. Here’s one corner prospect they could target in each round of the draft this coming weekend – except for the first and second rounds, since the Rams don’t have picks in those spots.
3rd round: Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
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The Rams will have a few good options at cornerback in the third round, including Coby Bryant, Damarri Mathis and possibly Avontae Taylor. But McCollum’s skill set is most intriguing, even if he may not make it to No. 104 overall.
He’s 6-foot-4, runs a 4.33 40 and has great leaping ability (39.5-inch vertical). That type of athletic profile is one the Rams should be interested in, especially after seeing them draft Robert Rochell last year. In fact, he’s the most athletic cornerback prospect since 1987.
Zyon McCollum is a CB prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 10 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 1 out of 1923 CB from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/VQ0qXsv0ub #RAS pic.twitter.com/9LDEuqzqHq
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 1, 2022
McCollum would be a boundary corner in Raheem Morris’ scheme, allowing David Long Jr. or Jalen Ramsey to play in the slot most of the time. He still needs plenty of development and is a raw prospect, but the potential is absolutely there.
4th round: Josh Jobe, Alabama
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Jobe brings good size and length to the position, looking the part of an NFL cornerback. He doesn’t necessarily have the speed and quickness to match up one-on-one in man coverage, but Jobe wouldn’t have much trouble fitting in the Rams’ zone-heavy defense, especially with his tackling and willingness to come up in run support.
His ball skills are lacking a bit, picking off just three passes and breaking up 19 in three seasons as a starter (11 in 2020), but that’s why he’s a fourth-round prospect and not a first-rounder. I still think he has the potential to be a good pro in the right system, however.
5th round: Kalon Barnes, Baylor
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Arguably the fastest player in the class and one of the fastest defensive backs to ever enter the draft, Barnes can absolutely scoot. He ran a 4.23 in the 40, and it’s not as if he’s tiny. He’s nearly 6-foot and 183 pounds. Unfortunately, he’s not polished in coverage and will need time to develop, but there’s no denying his athleticism.
Might the Rams take a chance on him in Round 5, hoping he can turn into a quality slot cornerback? I wouldn’t rule it out, given the emphasis they put on athleticism at the cornerback spot.
6th round: Chase Lucas, Arizona State
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Lucas played five years at Arizona State, picking off six passes and breaking up 28 total in his career. Another good athlete at cornerback, Lucas brings more experience than most players at the position in this class.
What gives Lucas at least a slight edge is his ability to play either outside or in the slot, and in man or zone coverage. That would give the Rams options in the secondary, with Lucas, Ramsey and Long all being able to play inside or out.
7th round: Damarion Williams, Houston
(AP Photo/Michael Wyke).
If the Rams are set on keeping Ramsey outside, like the way they did late in the year and into the playoffs, Williams would make sense. He’s a slot corner with good short-area quickness and can match up in man coverage. He’s only being projected as a sixth- or seventh-round pick, but I think he should go a bit earlier than that.
There are size limitations, being just 5-foot-1, but he plays bigger than his frame and he’s always willing to come up and hit as a run defender. Williams could wind up being a really good value in the seventh round if he’s there for the Rams.