Day 2 of NFL Combine marked by Rams favored DBs going down to injuries

NFL Combine, Nate Wiggins, LA Rams
NFL Combine, Nate Wiggins, LA Rams / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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The LA Rams face losing veteran cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Duke Shelley to the 2024 NFL Free Agency market, and that creates significant vacancies in the team's current projected roster. The team needed to sign veteran DB Witherspoon, not only to compete for a starting role, but to add a level of veteran leadership to a very young group.

2023 exposed the secondary to valuable experience, with the belief that having gone through a full season, the players who remain on the team will have a jump start to competing for playing time when the group reforms for OTAs and training camp this season. Still, losing two players almost necessitates replacing them with two new faces. And yes, this is the right year to be shopping for secondary support.

We featured three cornerbacks in our Scouting Combine preview article, and recommend that you revisit that piece to refresh your memory of what we had to say about them.

Defensive backs - Cornerbacks

  • Day 1 - Nate Wiggins, CB Clemson
  • Day 2 - Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
  • Day 3 - Khyree Jackson, CB, Oregon

The fastest 40-yard times were eye-popping indeed and add to the belief that the 2024 rookie draft class of cornerbacks is both incredibly talented as well as very deep. But the Rams may seek multiple cornerbacks in this draft. So who may have fallen out of favor?

Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. certainly did not grab the spotlight with his combine performance, but the Rams organization has already confirmed repeatedly that 40 times and other track event performances are less of a priority for their evaluation process. The team emphasizes game performances, which should serve Rakestraw well.

The Rams had met with Rakestraw and that is clearly not a mistake or coincidence. He is ranked among the Top-10 at the position on almost all draft boards. Don't let his speed fool you, Rakestraw is swifter on the football field because he has great instincts, allowing him to jump routes and arrive at the right spot as the football arrives. Unlike many DBs who play the hound chasing the fox game, Rakestraw is a much smarter opponent, outguessing the quarterback and receiver as to where they are going. His combine scores are nothing less than great news for the team that is excited to add him to the team. Projection: Round 2

If you are more interested in an athletic type of cornerback, then Rutger cornerback Max Melton is certain to pique your interest. Even though he is ranked from 18th to 30th on many draft boards, he is a player who warrants strong consideration to the roster. Standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 187-pounds, he is certainly big enough to fill the role.

What stands out about Melton is his athleticism, which only enhances his ability to diagnose routes, get into position, and make plays on the football consistently. He is a bit of fresh air, in that he does not depend on his speed to carry the day. He is a willing run defender, is proficient at both man/press and zone coverage schemes, and he can pick off passes even when his receiver is not targeted.

Melton is not completely refined, but his shortfalls are very coachable. He would make a great addition to the team. Projected: Round 3