Jan 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerack Darqueze Dennard (31) reacts during the 100th Rose Bowl against the Stanford Cardinal. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Rams Take Darqueze Dennard Over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix?

Jan 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Trae Waynes (15) and cornerback Darqueze Dennard (31) celebrate after Michigan State Spartans beat Stanford Cardinal 24-20 at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Rams allowed opponents 15.1 yards per attempt last season on passes thrown 15 plus yards downfield, that was the worst in the NFL. They were 28th in completion percentage outside the numbers (52.1%),going 86 of 165, both those numbers ranked 29th. They allowed five touchdowns to outside wide receivers, also last.

The Rams have obvious needs in the secondary, and the need could be so great that they should strongly consider using at least one of their first round picks on the secondary.

You can have the greatest pass rush in the league, but if you don’t have anybody that can cover the wide receivers, the pass rush won’t have time to sack the quarterback, let alone disrupt him.

The most popular name that has been brought up has been safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama. The Rams struggled at the safety position position last season which put a lot of pressure on the Rams defensive backs.

Clinton-Dix is a hybrid safety that would fit perfectly in new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams’ scheme. Having an elite safety can significantly help out the cornerbacks on the outside, i.e Earl Thomas. Now Clinton-Dix is nowhere near the prospect Earl Thomas was, but the point is that if the Rams pair Clinton-Dix with T.J. McDonald, the numbers that were so bad above, will get better.

However, recent Alabama stars, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, haven’t lived up to where they were drafted to say the very least. Players like linebacker Rolando McClain, cornerback Kareem Jackson, safety Mark Barron, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and nose tackle Terrence Cody are just a few examples.

Not to say Clinton-Dix will follow in their footsteps, but that has to raise some sort of level of concern.

That is why at the 13th overall pick the Rams should strongly consider Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Dennard led the Spartans to the number six defense against the pass in college football and  Became the first Spartans cornerback to earn unanimous first-team All-America honors and was also won the Jim Thorpe award which goes to the nation’s top defensive back.

Dennard is an in-your face, tough, aggressive corner, which is exactly the type of player that Jeff Fisher and Gregg Williams like on defense, and is exactly the type of player that the Rams lost in Cortland Finnegan.

Dennard is a physical corner that consistently makes plays and has great ball skills, if the Rams want to take a top cornerback Dennard is their guy, and should be their guy over Clinton-Dix.

The Rams need to add depth to the cornerback position, and although they could do that later in the draft, but what they really need is a starter on the outside to replace Finnegan.

At this point in time, you really can’t have much faith in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson on the outside. Even though a new, experienced defensive coordinator should help, one of those guys still needs to play the nickel back in the slot.

If the Rams can build a secondary that can just give their front four enough time to disrupt the quarterback, they will cause offenses a lot of problems. Although a safety will help the play of the corners on the outside, the outside is where it all starts.

The play of the Rams cornerbacks was terrible last year. The Rams were one of only five teams without a cornerback ranked in the top 50 on Pro Football Focus. If the Rams want to drastically improve their secondary, Dennard is their guy.

 

 

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Tags: Darqueze Dennard St. Louis Rams

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