With the 211th pick
of the 2022 NFL Draft, the LA Rams select Josh Blackwell, cornerback, from Duke University
Outside of Jalen Ramsey, the LA Rams cornerback position is in flux. Josh Blackwell can join that mix with a skill set that allows him to also contribute outside of the cornerback position.
Josh Blackwell’s greatest strength is his visions, both as a corner and a returner. While he did not play the position in college, his strengths could allow him versatility as a safety.
At 6-foot-0 and175-pounds, there is room on his frame to add some weight, but the objective is to accomplish the gain without sacrificing his inherent speed. If he improves his tangibles to match his intangibles, there is something special here.
An injury in 2020 cut that season short, and his return in 2021 shows a decline in his development. The LA Rams must ask themselves if the regression was injury-related or a reflection of his actual ceiling.
Given that 2021 did show a slight improvement in his tackling, there is still promise in Josh Blackwell as a complete cornerback in the NFL.
The Rams can utilize Blackwell in zone coverage early on and trust the front seven to protect him from too many one-on-one situations against backs. They need to protect him, at least, until the strength and conditioning coaches can get him to his ideal build.
His ability as a returner could prove valuable for the Rams, with Brandon Powell’s future with the team being uncertain and the returner positioning being a mess before Powell taking over the role.
For a sixth-round pick, playing various roles is a great way to make the final roster, and making the roster allows for more time to develop his physicality at the NFL level.