With the 79th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the LA Rams selected cornerback David Long Jr. from the University of Michigan. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before the 5-foot-11 196-pound defensive back carved out a meaningful role for himself amidst the team’s secondary.
Whether he was simply less experienced than other members of the secondary, younger than other members of the secondary, or a combination of both, David Long Jr. found himself more engaged in special teams and only sparsely used in the defensive rotation.
He did manage to squeeze in one start in 2020, in the game against the Miami Dolphins. Although the defense played well, the Rams shot themselves in the foot through turnovers and poor coverage on special teams. The Rams lost that game, and Long would not have another chance to start for the rest of the 2020 season.
David Long Jr. was worth waiting for
But David Long Jr. would continue to work hard, develop, improve, and get stronger. When teammate Troy Hill signed with the Cleveland Browns, David Long Jr. was ready. He was so ready, in fact, that he copied one of Troy Hill’s patented game-changing interceptions, and set the LA Rams offense up for their first score while shutting down the Chicago Bears offense from scoring themselves.
Very successful defenses do either one of two things incredibly well. Either they are stingy on every play and fight tooth and nail to stop the football from advancing. Or the defense bends a bit, allowing the offense to move the ball, but shutting down hard in the red zone, and even creating turnovers.
The 2020 version of the LA Rams defense was downright stingy. The 2021 version of the LA Rams defense appears to be leaning more toward the bend but don’t break defensive variety. David Long Jr.’s heroic interception in the Rams’ end zone stopped the Bears’ offense cold and became a pivotal moment on the way to sealing the Rams’ win.
The team had to wait two years for David Long Jr. to assume an ongoing starting role in the secondary. Based on his week one performance? He was worth the wait.