How will LA Rams address the safety position?

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams’ secondary plummeted from a Super Bowl winner to a weak link on a 5-12 team almost overnight. But deep-diving a bit, the defense still had Jalen Ramsey at cornerback, still had Nick Scott at strong safety, and may have downgraded a wee bit from Darious Williams/Donte Deayon to Troy Hill/Cobie Durant (but I would argue not as much as you may think), but the plummet from savvy free safety retired veteran Eric Weddle to Taylor Rapp was a huge drop-off.

Even when Rapp was cleared to play, the Rams elected to keep playing Weddle, and after witnessing the 2022 NFL season, the reasons became clearer. Weddle was a cerebral safety, a guy whose mind-diagnosed plays instantly and accurately. That allowed him to not only follow the offensive plays as they developed but allowed him to play seamless pass defense with his teammates like Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams.

Far too often in the 2022 pass defense, Ramsey was looking for safety help that was never forthcoming. Rapp was getting led away from the play by the quarterback’s eyes, or the offense schemed two receivers to flood Ramsey’s way knowing to throw the ball to the receiver that Ramsey could not cover.  So what is the solution?

Free agency or draft?

The LA Rams are counting on a healthy crop of awarded compensatory draft picks for the 2024 NFL Draft, and as such will be reluctant to dabble in the NFL Free Agency market for anyone who is priced at a premium or at their FMV (Fair Market Value).

That means that the Rams will likely try to address their secondary needs via the NFL Draft.

The Rams hold two picks on Day 2, both of whom are higher than any pick used in the 2022 NFL Draft. The team could add key players to address the safety position with either pick. I expect if the team does draft a safety, the team will tip its hand by first trading back and trying to acquire a fourth-round pick.

The Rams have addressed the position in the 2022 NFL Draft by adding both Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake, both of whom are expected to take on larger roles in this defense in 2023. And the team is welcoming back injured Jordan Fuller, a player who was better in pass coverage than Taylor Rapp in the past. But I would look for the team to draft an additional safety, one who excels in pass coverage. If the Rams extend either Scott or Rapp, Scott appears to be the less expensive best-value option.

But at the moment, it seems like the team will be okay with rebooting the safety position, and will add a safety on Day 3 to mix into the competition for playing time.

Trending. What to make of the LA Rams special teams for 2023?. light