Despite a sensational 2023, this LA Rams newcomer fails to crack CBS Top-10

CBS Sports Jared Dubin ranks the top NFL cornerbacks. But his process seems to be about name recognition, rather than recognizing players for historic excellence.
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Sean McVay / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

When the LA Rams pivoted from the 2023 NFL season that had just ended, to the task of restocking the roster for the 2024 NFL season, two things were clear. This team had to prioritize the task of keeping veteran QB Matthew Stafford healthy, and the team had to do a better job of shutting down opposing offenses and their ability to complete passes.

Neither task would be easy.

But it did make sense for the team to aim for free agent veterans for the offensive line and the secondary. After all, those are the two area of an NFL team that require more than individual talent. The offensive line and secondary are dependent upon a player's ability to work as a group, an area that demands good chemistry, communication, coordination, cooperation, and cohesiveness.

To aim at anything less for either group would be just wrong.

Defensive back Darious Williams is no stranger to proving people wrong. Despite standing 5-foot-9 and weighing 187 pounds, Williams has carved out a lengthy NFl career by defying the odds. He is a strip of velcro when it comes to fuzzy wide receivers, a defensive back who sticks to potential targets like a shadow on a sunny day. Not only did Williams allow just 55 percent of passes targeting his receiver to find their mark, but he picked off four of those passes via interception, and ushered his own offense back onto the field. That is twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes that he allowed.

Not too shabby.

Darious Williams is a Top 5 DB

Per Pro Football Focus, Darious Williams was ranked third overall among all NFL defensive backs in 2023 as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Williams dominated the AFC South with his fearless tenacity. And his pass coverage was superb, allowing just 101 of 191 passes to be caught by an opposing receiver. He picked off four passes from opposing receivers while allowing three touchdowns, over those two years in the Jaguars secondary.

His effectiveness is exactly why the Rams front office signed him to lead the secondary in 2024.

So how is it that CBS Sports NFL writer Jared Dubin arbitrarily drops him ten spots in their ranking, all the way down to 13th overall in his 2024 projections for NFL defensive backs? I mean, come on, he has Dallas Cowboys DB Trevon Diggs, coming off a fresh ACL injury, ranked 12th? How can he rank New Orleans Saints DB Marson Lattimore at 11th place, a guy who did not crack the NFL's top 32 ranking in actual performance in 2023, with a description about "bouts of inconsistency, but few corners have a higher ceiling." ?

So what does Dubin jot down for Darious Williams?

"It makes no sense that Williams wasn't more sought-after in free agency this offseason after being cut by the Jaguars. He signed a three-year, $22.5 million deal to head back to the Rams. That is less than he got to to go Jacksonville in the first place! And he played quite well there for two years, especially after moving out of the slot and back to the perimeter, where he is at his best despite his smaller stature. Back with the Rams, maybe people will remember how strong a player he is."

CBS writer Jared Dubin

So the write up does not reflect a player who was arbitrarily dropped 10 spots.

Subjective listings are great fodder for dispute

Perhaps the problem is that Jared Dubin is passionate about the NBA, and most of his articles and social media interests appear to be professional basketball. After all, Cleveland Browns DB Denzel Ward finished 32nd-ranked in 2023 based on historic performance. But Dubin was touted as the ninth-ranked DB in Dubin's list. He claims that Ward has never allowed more than 44 catches in any single season, and yet Denzel Ward allowed 47 catches in 2021, and 46 catches in 2018.

Citing the number of completions allowed is a mockery to defensive backs, due to the nature of relevance to the number of times targeted by opposing quarterbacks. Completions vary based on that frequency. Darious Willams was targeted 100 times in 2023. While he allowed 55 completions, he was far more effective than Ward in 2023.

Dubin's ranking appears to be about subjective name recognition, rather than any objective standards. And subjective listings have their place, compelling passionate football fans to engage in logical, or illogical, discourse over reranking the list to better reflect a more objective ordering system.

Perhaps Dubin does a better job at ranking NBA players. But his listing of NFL defensive backs is more about triggering reactions than informing NFL fans.

As always, thanks for reading.