Is this the year for LA Rams DB David Long Jr. to step up?

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 79th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the LA Rams select cornerback David Long Jr from the University of Michigan. Now, two years later, what do we truly know about this defensive back from the Wolverines? Well, not as much as we’d like.

He was all the rage in the days leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft.  One draft profile website claimed that he ‘has the upside to be a top-three corner early in his career and enjoy a productive career.’  While he was not the ideal height and length, his 2019 NFL Scouting Combine results certainly helped raised his stock.

The LA Rams love to draft for future needs, and to be fair, the team saw the need to plan for the potential departure of then slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.  So grabbing a 5-foot-11 196-pound defensive back who is versatile enough to play three cornerback positions was a smart move by the Rams, particularly in 2019 – a year that saw a great deal of upheaval to the Rams’ secondary.

Rams roster has room for David Long Jr. to sept up

Right now, the Rams are facing the potential loss of both cornerbacks Troy Hill and Darious Williams.  While there is hope that the Rams submit a qualifying tender offer to protect their rights to re-sign DWill, the team is potentially looking at losing Hill to free agency. Is David Long Jr. ready to step up and assume a larger role on defense?

Perhaps. He certainly showed enough promise to do so in his draft portfolio. And yet, some could make a case by arguing that if he was going to be something special, wouldn’t he be something special already?  Well, no. Not really.

As a rookie in 2019, he played behind Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Nickell Robey Coleman. In 2020, he played behind Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, and Darious Williams.  Last I checked, those were some pretty good secondaries, and the players are virtually household names. By rights, Long was likely considered for slot cornerback duty for 2020. But the 2019 emergence of Darious Williams tabled all of that.

It’s tough to break into an elite secondary without the need caused by injury, and the Rams secondary benefitted from three healthy cornerbacks throughout 2020. That was enough to keep Long in the on-deck circle.

That won’t be the case in 2021. Will he be ready to step up? I think so. After all, he is a very physical defensive back and has similar features as outbound Troy Hill. If the Rams can lock in Darious Williams for one more year, find DWills’ successor in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Rams could have another excellent secondary.

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So to summarize, is this the year for LA Rams DB David Long Jr. to step up?  Yes, yes it is.