The defensive back who never was?
When the LA Rams drafted a very athletic defensive back, Robert Rochell. it was more than his college production that ignited optimism and projections of NFL excellence. Rochell is a big-bodied defensive back, of such size that you can instantly envision him tangling with the bigger more physical NFL wide receivers as well as those pass-catching tight ends who can take over a game. The challenge so far has been getting Robert Rochell defensive snaps.
Despite the need for Rochell to step up, the trend of defensive backs to regress was unmistakable in 2022. Rochell competed in 234 defensive snaps in 2021 to just 26 in 2022. Rochell allowed just 60.9 percent of the passes to his receivers find their mark in 2021, but allowed the only pass thrown his way to find its mark in 20222. Rochell delivered an interception in 2021, but no picks in 2022. He played in 11 games in 2021, and started 5. In 2022, he saw action in 17 games, but primarily as a special team contributor.
Rams need Rochell in 2023
Which version of this defensive back will show up this season? That's a huge and critical question for this LA Rams secondary and overall defense. The truth is that this year's secondary is bursting with young talent and energy, and the team needs a more seasoned veteran on the football field who can keep a level head. Right now, that role falls by default upon Robert Rochell.
But much like his former teammate DB Terrell Burgess, Robert Rochell showed some promise one season, then became completely invisible the following year. Was it poor coaching? Or was it a pattern of several defensive backs simply not cutting it? Whatever the reason, one thing is clear. The Rams released Terrell Burgess mid-season in 2022. If Rochell does not develop this season, he could share a similar fate.