If it’s one position that most fans are nervous about and are by far the most uncertain about it’s the safety position. The two starting safeties from last year are no longer on the team and they did almost nothing to greatly improve at the position. Most expect Darian Stewart and rookie T.J. McDonald to start day one, but it’s going to be a dogfight throughout camp and this will for sure be one of those times where you should apply the phrase “expect the unexpected.”
Stewart is one of the veterans of the safety group and has limited NFL playing experience in his 4 year career. Last season Stewart had 10 combined tackles and no interceptions or forced fumbles. In fact he has 111 tackles, only 2 forced fumbles, and a single interception in his entire career. Fisher has to have confidence in what Stewart brings to the table, if not the Rams would have drafted Vaccaro, Elam, or Reid. This is just something you have to sit back and watch and hope it turns out o.k. Stewart may have limited experience, but he could rise to the occasion and turn out to be a good safety for the Rams.
McDonald was one of the hardest hitting safeties in the past draft, but it takes more than just being able to hit hard to be a safety, especially in today’s game. Don’t be surprised to see McDonald get flagged more than a couple times for hitting a “defenseless” receiver. McDonald isn’t great in coverage and is seen as a pure in the box safety. He obviously brings a physical presence to the defense and leadership, but he could falter in coverage. McDonald had 109 tackles, no forced fumbles, and only two interceptions last season at USC. McDonald should start week one, but there will be a lot of learning that will need to be done before then.
The most recent and the player with the most experience in the group is Matt Giordano. Giordano played the last two seasons with the Raiders posting a combined 95 tackles, one sack, a forced fumble, and seven interceptions. Giordano very well could push Stewart for his starting job. Giordano has more experience than Stewart and has the better stats. Granted he has been in the league twice as long as Stewart, but either way it will be an interesting competition to look out for when camp rolls around.
The Two Wild Cards
You cant forget about the two wild card players that could make some noise and earn themselves a starting role in the open competition. Matt Daniels and Rodney McLeod. With every opportunity these two receive, you can guarantee they will do their best to take advantage of it. The undrafted McLeod mostly contributed on special teams last year, but did get a few reps at safety. McLeod brings speed and good coverage skills to the back end of the defense. McLeod will hope to impress the coaches once again this offseason to possibly get a larger role or even start. McLeod also has the ability to play as a nickleback which could prove to be helpful if the Rams suffer an injury there. As for the also undrafted Matt Daniels, the majority of his playing time also came on special teams. Daniels was finally starting to get the hang of things when he tragically suffered an ACL injury that ended his season. Daniels is back and still rehabbing, but he will hope to be ready in time for camp so he can have his shot at a starting role.
Just like every other position on the Rams, the safety position is no different, it consists of a bunch of misfits and players nobody else wanted. Like the rest of the team, they will also be underestimated and underrated, but when their time comes to shine, they will prove they belong with the big dogs. Get ready for an interesting competition in camp, trust me, you wont want to miss a second of it.