With or without Ramsey, LA Rams secondary needs attention

Cobie Durant, Russ Yeast
Cobie Durant, Russ Yeast / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

Whether or not you buy in on the NFL Rumors that the LA Rams are fielding inquiries into trading away defensive back Jalen Ramsey, there is much more to discuss about the Rams' secondary. In short, the LA Rams secondary needs attention from the Rams front office, badly. Whenever I examine the LA Rams' defense in 2022, I continue to see evidence of the Rams asking too much of Ramsey and too little of other defensive backs. Ramsey remains a top NFL defensive back, but the way the LA Rams work him, and deploy him, has simply stretched him too thin to be effective. And the Rams' secondary needs to remove the Jalen Ramsey training wheels and learn to ride without him.

If you remove Jalen Ramsey and the seven projected 2023 NFL Free Agents from the LA Rams roster, the remaining players is quite alarming. The most senior defensive backs on the Rams roster are DB Robert Rochell, an incredibly athletic defensive back who has seldom seen action, and DB Jordan Fuller, a player who has struggled to stay on the football field.

Beyond them, the LA Rams have returning rookies: Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, Russ Yeast, and Quentin Lake. The Rams also have two defensive backs signed to Reserve Future contracts in cornerback T.J. Carter and Richard LeCounte III (the team also has DE T.J. Carter on a Reserve Future contract). The Rams barely have enough players to field a secondary, let alone expect big things from the group.

DBs on the Rams roster need reinforcements

No matter how optimistic you are about the LA Rams, the state of the secondary is not simply a unit that needs one good player. This is a group that needs an infusion of talent, but in the players added as well as the coaching staff. Sadly, the group was the strength of the Rams' defense in 2020, but free agency, poor draft decisions, and then a sudden collapse and regression of younger players in the talent pipeline have forced the team to regroup.

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Unlike the Rams offensive line that has promising players who were injured too quickly and frequently to make an impact in 2022, the Rams secondary is lacking even returning veterans. The shelves are truly bare, a situation that is simply intolerabler for any NFL team hoping for success. Jalen Ramsey could not carry the secondary in 2022, and he cannot carry the secondary in 2023.

The hope is that the Rams can convert Jalen Ramsey into a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. If the Rams are able to do so, they can land one of this draft class's Top-5 defensive backs. That is huge, as the Rams will likely double dip, adding a top safety and perhaps a third defensive back in this draft.

With or without Ramsey, LA Rams secondary needs attention

The Rams clearly need help on defense, and we all have a perspective of what this team needs to do now. But if the Rams draft offensive linemen early, the secondary suffers. If the Rams draft defensive backs early, the offensive line has enough returning veterans to hold down the fort while rookies learn their craft and earn playing time.

If there was ever a time for the Rams draft to focus upon their secondary, goodness gracious this is one of the draft classes to do so. The 2023 NFL Draft has a deep and robust group of talented defensive backs who could produce starters even from Day 3. I believe the Rams front office plans to take advantage of that, and make multiple selections to feed a secondary that needs talent and depth. The LA Rams are not viewing this off-season in terms of the 2023 NFL season. This is the year when the Rams are plotting strategies for multiple years that lie ahead.

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In order to appreciate what the LA Rams may do this offseason, we will need to refocus our understanding and appreciation to take a longer future-looking view of their moves. In that way, we may all gain a better understanding and appreciation of our team's strategy. Will it be perfect? Probably not. But the best way to measure success for the Rams' offseason is to understand the goal and assess how effective the team was at achieving that goal. I believe the Rams are aiming to be competitive for years to come, even at the expense of competing in 2023. With the 2023 rookie draft class, that could be a very successful strategy indeed.