Former Rams DB David Long Jr. to don the Silver and Black
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams free agency is in full swing in its second week, but its sticking to the same ole script. The latest news about a Rams free agent is more of the same, a contributor from the 2022 Rams roster has found a new team to play for, and is willing to offer a new contract to do so. On this occasion, the player is defensive back David Long Jr., and the new team is none other than the Silver and Black, the Las Vegas Raiders:
In many ways, this news is not the least bit surprising. LA Rams defensive back David Long Jr. has been a steady, but not especially noteworthy, defensive back for the Rams secondary throughout his four-year rookie contract.
Over his four seasons, he has appeared in 52 games for the Rams and started in 10 of those contests. He has been more work since Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris joined the Rams, as Long has averaged better than 40 percent of the defensive snaps over that time period.
Long has been primarily used as a slot cornerback, but has been promoted to the outside in case of injury to a teammate. His best season occurred in 2021, when he held quarterbacks to a completion rate of just 60.9 percent when his receiver was targeted. Like many defensive backs in 2022, he regressed somewhat, as quarterbacks completed more that 75 percent of the passes thrown to his receiver.
While Long can make open-field tackles, it's not a strong suit, as he missed over 10 percent of his tackles in the past two seasons. Yes, he can frustrate at times, but he has soloed in 67 of the 77 tackles made in his career. He doesn't always get a lot of help, but he typically brings his player down.
When the LA Rams drafted Cobie Durant in the 2022 NFL Draft, my mind immediately recognized the writing on the way for Long. Durant was the rookie slot corner who would eventually usurp his more senior teammate, forcing Long to absorb defensive snaps as Troy Hill's backup.
Given the right coaching, scheme, and surrounding cast, defensive back David Long Jr. has plenty of upside potential. When he was drafted by the LA Rams with the 79th overall pick, which fell in the third round, of the 2019 NFL Draft, his draft profile was thoroughly complimentary and projected him to be an eventual NFL starting defensive back. He is a Los Angeles, California native, but he never seemed to feel truly at home on the Rams roster.
While the terms of his new contract are not yet available, I expect that the Las Vegas Raiders have gotten a valuable addition to their secondary, a depth player who is a veteran eager to compete for a larger role in the defense for the 2023 NFL season.