Raheem Morris Discusses Potential Adjustments To Defensive Scheme

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BonifayRam

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Rams News: Raheem Morris Discusses Potential Adjustments To Defensive Scheme - Rams Newswire
Raheem Morris Discusses Potential Adjustments To Defensive Scheme
by Maximo Gonzales

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New Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has some big shoes to fill given the job his predecessor did with this group in the 2020 NFL season.

Despite being in his first year at the position, Brandon Staley managed to lead the No. 1 defense in the NFL. As a result, his efforts have helped him become the new head coach for the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason.

Morris is well aware of the expectations after inheriting a talented group led by what he believes are two future Hall of Famers in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. He will be tasked with replicating the same level of success the Rams had on this side of the ball throughout the 2020 campaign under Staley.

Of course, Morris will be looking for ways to kick things up a notch. Although he plans to stick with a 3-4 base approach, he expects them to be much more fluid when it comes to sub-packages, via Stu Jackson of the team’s official website:

“When you go into your sub-packages, which the league has kind of developed into, you see a lot more four-down fronts,” Morris said. “Whether you’re talking about odd or even fronts, whether you’re talking about bringing different people in to do some different things, you’re going to do all those things, you’re going to have all those different types of packages. Obviously, you’ll talk about who you are and what you are. We’re going to look like a three-four base team, something that we tried to look like in Atlanta.”

Morris added that the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it approach,” is not going to cut it if the Rams are going to win a Super Bowl:

“I wasn’t brought here to try to duplicate what they did last year,” Morris said. “We were brought here to win and we’re brought here to win a championship.”

It is encouraging to see that Morris is not planning on resting on the laurels of this group’s performance last season. While Donald and Ramsey will remain as the focal points of the defense, nothing is set in stone just yet with key players like safety John Johnson III, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and cornerback Troy Hill all set to test the market as unrestricted free agents.

Fortunately, the Rams have good reason to be optimistic about all the different looks they can provide thanks to the bevy of versatile talent at their disposal. Morris is going to do what he can to put his own twist on the base 3-4 scheme just like Staley did with former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
 

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Rams Pre-Free Agency Position Overview: Defensive Line (therams.com)
Pre-Free Agency Position Overview: Defensive Line
Mar 03, 2021 by Stu Jackson

The calendar has turned to March, which means the start of the new league year – March 17, 1 p.m. pacific time – and free agency isn't far away.

Ahead of this pivotal time in the offseason, theRams.com will be breaking down the team's roster with an overview of the players currently under contract and those who are scheduled to become free agents.
The series kicks off with a look at the defensive line:
Under contract
  • Michael Brockers: 49 combined tackles (5.5 for loss) and five sacks in 15 games (missed regular season finale due to being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list). Five sacks were second-most in a single season in his nine-year career behind his 5.5 in 2013.
  • Aaron Donald: Won record-tying third AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award after posting fourth-straight season with double-digit sacks (13.5), plus 19.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup in 16 games. Sack total tied with Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson for second in the NFL in 2020.
  • Greg Gaines: Produced 18 total tackles (two for loss), two sacks and one fumble recovery while playing all 16 games in 2020.
  • Sebastian Joseph-Day: Tied with outside linebacker Leonard Floyd for fifth-most total tackles made on the team (55) and also contributed four QB hits and one sack while starting in all 16 games.
  • A'Shawn Robinson: After missing the first half of the season due to being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list in the preseason, made 12 total tackles, one pass breakup and also blocked a field goal on special teams in eight games.
  • Eric Banks (Reserve/Future): Undrafted free agent signee last year out of the University of Texas at San Antonio who spent the 2020 season on the Rams' practice squad.
  • Marquise Copeland (Reserve/Future): Originally signed to the practice squad prior to the start of the regular season, was active and made one tackle in the Rams' season-opening win over the Cowboys last year, then spent the majority of the season on the Rams' practice squad.
  • Michael Hoecht (Reserve/Future): Undrafted free agent signee last year out of Brown University who spent his rookie 2020 season on the Rams' practice squad.
  • Jonah Williams (Reserve/Future): Undrafted free agent signee last year out of Weber State who spent his rookie 2020 season on the Rams' practice squad.
Scheduled to become a free agent
  • Morgan Fox (unrestricted – Free Agent Spotlight): Career-high six sacks last season, plus eight tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups while playing in all 16 games (two starts) last season.
  • Derek Rivers (unrestricted): Claimed off waivers from the Patriots in late November, was primarily a special teams contributor who also saw some action on defense over Rams' final five regular season games.
 

WestCoastRam

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Dude has a real challenge on his hands:

1) We should expect to lose starters like JJ on this defense.
2) Regression to the mean is a constant and all things being equal (ie, there was no change in defensive coordinator, players and scheme) we would most likely fall in defensive rankings next year.
3) He will look to change things up in sub-packages which may be necessary to evolve but may also end up being tinkering with something that isn't broke.

I'm excited about Morris, he was considered a top target for a lot of teams this offseason but I expect to take a step back in defense, it will be a testament to him if the step back only has to do with number 2 on my list and we don't drop that far off from where we were last year.
 

Elmgrovegnome

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Dude has a real challenge on his hands:

1) We should expect to lose starters like JJ on this defense.
2) Regression to the mean is a constant and all things being equal (ie, there was no change in defensive coordinator, players and scheme) we would most likely fall in defensive rankings next year.
3) He will look to change things up in sub-packages which may be necessary to evolve but may also end up being tinkering with something that isn't broke.

I'm excited about Morris, he was considered a top target for a lot of teams this offseason but I expect to take a step back in defense, it will be a testament to him if the step back only has to do with number 2 on my list and we don't drop that far off from where we were last year.
Even if Staley stayed the Rams defense was likely to take a step back. Free agent defections take a toll. Teams were also figuring out how to attack that defense.
Besides that the lack of good Linebackers will still be a likely weakness.
 
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BonifayRam

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I have been very impressed with the development of SJD. I sure do not look at him just as a one post NT.

SJD sure kept the well-publicized 2020 Ram free agent signing Robinson on the sidelines last season. I would move SJD into the 5 tech DL post as an early-down starter ASAP. Let Robinson be the main backup to all three DL posts & prove himself & earn a starting post. Something he did not do in 2020.

I also think Greg Gaines now entering his 3rd season needs to start to earn his keep before his contract is up & he departs for another big contract with another team. It's time for Gaines to start @ NT now.
 

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I have been very impressed with the development of SJD. I sure do not look at him just as a one post NT.

SJD sure kept the well-publicized 2020 Ram free agent signing Robinson on the sidelines last season. I would move SJD into the 5 tech DL post as an early-down starter ASAP. Let Robinson be the main backup to all three DL posts & prove himself & earn a starting post. Something he did not do in 2020.

I also think Greg Gaines now entering his 3rd season needs to start to earn his keep before his contract is up & he departs for another big contract with another team. It's time for Gaines to start @ NT now.
I'm thinking NOT starting Gaines might be the best way to hang on to him thru his next contract talks. I also like SJD starting at NT, but also moving around to play 3T relief behind Donald with very occasional 5T movement outside. I prefer the idea of replacing Fox with a more proven 5T pass rusher who can move inside on occasion, someone not unlike Fox himself, only bigger, stronger & faster. Robinson & Gaines will still get plenty of snaps if Fox departs and Brockers is traded. Like the OL, this will be a temporary crapshoot for fans to work out as Brockers' permanent status may be somewhat at risk, Fox moves into free agency, and a new defensive coordinator tries to manage coming change. And, more than ever, my wish is that the Rams find a way to keep Floyd during this period of our transitioning defense. jmo.
 
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Rams43

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Yeah, statistically, a regression to the norm seems likely.

But it’s not inconceivable that Morris might actually be able to field a better D overall this year IF certain things develop.

Hear me out.

Get lucky via draft and/or FA at Edge (might need both to happen).
Some luck at ILB through draft or FA.
A player-for-player trade involving either Brockers or Hav could be a godsend at either D position.
I’m a BIG fan of Burgess at slot. I like him there better than the departing Hill, tbh.
If Rapp or Gervase can pair with Fuller even halfway as well as the departing JJ then this secondary will be just fine.

Snead might just pull another Fuller-like gem out of this draft at either CB or S, too.

Not guaranteeing another #1 ranking, of course, but just suggesting that Morris MIGHT be able to field an even better overall D this year. Do not underestimate what an improvement at ILB alone could bring to the table.
 

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I'm thinking NOT starting Gaines might be the best way to hang on to him thru his next contract talks. I also like SJD starting at NT, but also moving around to play 3T relief behind Donald with very occasional 5T movement outside. I prefer the idea of replacing Fox with a more proven 5T pass rusher who can move inside on occasion, someone not unlike Fox himself, only bigger, stronger & faster. Robinson & Gaines will still get plenty of snaps if Fox departs and Brockers is traded. Like the OL, this will be a temporary crapshoot for fans to work out as Brockers' permanent status may be somewhat at risk, Fox moves into free agency, and a new defensive coordinator tries to manage coming change. And, more than ever, my wish is that the Rams find a way to keep Floyd during this period of our transitioning defense. jmo.
It's obvious from my posts that I am looking past some of the names you mentioned in the future Ram defense going forward. Fox, Floyd & Brockers are no longer on my mental Ram roster due to 2021 salary cap ramifications. Snead would be very lucky to find a trading partner for that Brockers contract. Just maybe a late 7th rounder to a fat salary cap 43 Defensive teams.
....Get lucky via draft and/or FA at Edge (might need both to happen).
Some luck at ILB through draft or FA.
A player-for-player trade involving either Brockers or Hav could be a godsend at either D position.
I’m a BIG fan of Burgess at slot. I like him there better than the departing Hill, tbh.
If Rapp or Gervase can pair with Fuller even halfway as well as the departing JJ then this secondary will be just fine. Snead might just pull another Fuller-like gem out of this draft at either CB or S, too.....
I see the release of Brockers after no trade offers being offered for him.

Ref. Snead finding DB's......It's highly possible for Snead to just do that on the defense side. He does have an outstanding resume of obtaining very good rookie DB's. This draft might be another opportunity for more good discoveries! Last season the roster picked up 4 new safeties to the roster.

The one with the higher ceiling is not Fuller. its Burgess! I saw something really special from that 2020 3rd rd pick DB. His coverage abilities & tackling in 49 snaps with the defense were outstanding. I'm thinking once Morris sees Burgess in action he will be pushing Evero to get Burgess in @ the Nickle as much as possible.

The Outside/ Nickle/ Dime corners are where Snead should target his attention to beef up this part of his secondary. Ramsey & Williams are experienced corners who can play any corner demands but David Long & Tyrique McGhee are still unknowns. The Safety unit is already full of abundant very young talent needing snaps even with the loss of JJ III.

Snead needs to give DC Morris 2 future starters ...healthy talented OLB pass rusher & outside corner in this draft.
 
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WestCoastRam

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Even if Staley stayed the Rams defense was likely to take a step back. Free agent defections take a toll. Teams were also figuring out how to attack that defense.
Besides that the lack of good Linebackers will still be a likely weakness.
I think the shame of last year was Rapp going on IR. I think he would have gone a long way towards covering for the lack of sideline to sideline speed from our linebackers. I'm curious with him and Burgess coming back what happens at safety. If we lose Hill, I expect Burgess might get the first shot at nickel corner though I don't know that you could flex him out like you did with Hill when Ramsey plays "star." If we get another CB to play nickel and jump out to outside CB then I think you get to keep Burgess and Rapp at safety and I'm less worried about LB depth as I think Rapp will be in a hybrid-LB role in sub packages.

One could make an argument that keeping Hill is higher priority than anything we can do at LB because as long as those other guys are healthy, we can reasonably make due at LB.
 

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I think the shame of last year was Rapp going on IR. I think he would have gone a long way towards covering for the lack of sideline to sideline speed from our linebackers. I'm curious with him and Burgess coming back what happens at safety. If we lose Hill, I expect Burgess might get the first shot at nickel corner though I don't know that you could flex him out like you did with Hill when Ramsey plays "star." If we get another CB to play nickel and jump out to outside CB then I think you get to keep Burgess and Rapp at safety and I'm less worried about LB depth as I think Rapp will be in a hybrid-LB role in sub packages.

One could make an argument that keeping Hill is higher priority than anything we can do at LB because as long as those other guys are healthy, we can reasonably make due at LB.
Hill gets underestimated imo. He's versatile and made key plays. Staley loves JJ and I'm guessing he's likely gone. Staley once said Burgess is a very good, and smart player who can take JJs place. I question his durability. He doesn't look as heavy as JJ. Maybe you are right about Rapp. He likely could have helped cover for lack of talent at linebacker. My guess is that Morris won't be so satisfied with the lack of linebacking talent. But is this the year they would be able to fix that area? It may not happen. You could get the chance to see if Rapp can make up for some of the lack of range at linebacker.
 

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Re: Rapp it sure would be nice to see him beast out in 2021. I love the guy just not sure he's a fit. But I'm also not sold on Morris and expect this defense to dip quite a bit. My watermark is around that 10th range. I don't want a defense lower than that top third.

IMO the Rams will fix center, add some speed through a slot addition, and if so there's a good chance they flip to a more offensively oriented team this season. Either way I'm really eager to see here soon what approach they take.
 
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Sounds like coach speak to me. We had the #1 defense last yeare and he isn't likely to best that. Besides, the defense wasn't the porblem as we all know.

Let Matt cook.... ~ @den-the-coach
 
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BonifayRam

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I think the shame of last year was Rapp going on IR. I think he would have gone a long way towards covering for the lack of sideline to sideline speed from our linebackers. I'm curious with him and Burgess coming back what happens at safety. If we lose Hill, I expect Burgess might get the first shot at nickel corner though I don't know that you could flex him out like you did with Hill when Ramsey plays "star." If we get another CB to play nickel and jump out to outside CB then I think you get to keep Burgess and Rapp at safety and I'm less worried about LB depth as I think Rapp will be in a hybrid-LB role in sub packages.

One could make an argument that keeping Hill is higher priority than anything we can do at LB because as long as those other guys are healthy, we can reasonably make due at LB.
I would second your thoughts on how the injury in pre season hurt the overall effectiveness of the LB unit in coverage.........no doubt about it that Strong Safety Taylor Rapp would have been in one of the ILB posts often in 2nd & 3rd long situations. A main player in the sub-packages. I would expect that Rapp will nail one of the starting safety posts early in TC.

As to who will play with Rapp @ the other safety post in the base defense ??? there are many Ram safeties who are available & it should be one serious fight in TC. Most would assume that Safety Jordan Fuller would win out due to his rookie early-season success. But the much faster Deep Safety Nick Scott now has been active every Ram game since drafted. He saw a ton of action with Staley as DC. He got better & better as the season wore on.

UDFA's Strong Safety's Jake Gervase & JR Reed have been retained this will be Gervase's 3rd Ram TC & has always been liked by McVay. JuJu Hughes is far more Deep Safety is also back for another season. Free Safety Terrell Burgess might be needed for the Nick Back role as you mentioned. This would certainly help out with the corner shortage.
 

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The one with the higher ceiling is not Fuller. its Burgess! I saw something really special from that 2020 3rd rd pick DB. His coverage abilities & tackling in 49 snaps with the defense were outstanding. I'm thinking once Morris sees Burgess in action he will be pushing Evero to get Burgess in @ the Nickle as much as possible.
Yeah, Burgess is another one that’s sort of there... like Travin Howard...

We‘ve seen some good things... can they build on that? If so... that’s HUGE.


Will the LA Rams start Terrell Burgess next to Jordan Fuller in 2021?

Finding a starting defensive back in an NFL Draft in any given year is a tough task. Finding two starting defensive backs is nearly impossible. But finding two starters for the same secondary is next-to-impossible without a first-round pick. But don’t tell that to the LA Rams general manager Les Snead. You see, he has a way of making the impossible not only possible but likely,

One of the best NFL drafts of any team in landing starting defensive backs occurred in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles when the team drafted Lito Sheppard, Michael Brown, and Sheldon Brown in the same draft. But let’s caveat that by mentioning that the Eagles drafted all three by the 59th selection. In that year, the Eagles draft Sheppard at 26, Lewis and 58, and Brown at 59. The trio would combine to play 429 NFL games. Not a bad haul in one NFL Draft.

And yet, the LA Rams may have outdone that draft. Well, certainly in terms of the potential of striking gold deep in the 2020 NFL Draft, at least. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the LA Rams chose 6-foot-0 198-pound Utah safety Terrell Burgess with the 109th selection. They then doubled down to grab 6-foot-2 204-pound Ohio State University safety Jordan Fuller with the 199th selection.

Both are now very much in the running for starting roles for the top-ranked NFL defense this year. Two starting safeties in 2021 from selections at 109 and 199 in the 202 NFL Draft? That’s almost too good to be true.

The Rams depth chart could boast both 2020 rookies starting at safety

And yet, here we are. I don’t think it is any stretch of the imagination to project 2020 starter Jordan Fuller to reclaim that role in 2021. It’s also looking less likely that the Rams will have the funds necessary to re-sign 2020 veteran safety John Johnson III for 2021. So it comes down to either Terrell Burgess or Taylor Rapp as the other starting safety in 2021. That’s a 50/50 shot right now.

I like Burgess’s chances to win the role.

Burgess was injured in the fourth quarter in the victory against the Chicago Bears, an ankle injury that would shut him down for the rest of the season. Sadly, it was his most impressive game of the season. In one play, he made an incredible open-field tackle on wide receiver/running back Cordarell Patterson at the 10-yard line to keep the Bears pinned deep.

Clearly, he was hurt just as everything ‘clicked’ for him. While that was both disappointing and saddening for the young man for his 2020 rookie season, it sets the stage for a breakout 2021 season.

So why would starting both former rookies Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller at the safety position be so special? Both starting from the same NFL draft class gives them both a shared loyalty and bond that is unique to them both. Since both were drafted in 2020, the LA Rams will enjoy three more NFL seasons of their play before either enter NFL Free Agency, cementing the back end of the LA Rams defense for the foreseeable future.

Taylor Rapp, while very dangerous, seemed to fit the role of third safety very well in 2020, and would be asked to repeat that role if Burgess and Fuller get the safety starts this year. Even before the LA Rams jump headfirst into the 2021 NFL Free Agency market, their roster is taking shape.
 

FrantikRam

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Were losing too many key players to attempt to replace them and "run it back". I would be content with players on the roster stepping up in the secondary - if we go and finally get an above average ILB, then a reclamation project for EDGE.
 
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BonifayRam

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Yeah, Burgess is another one that’s sort of there... like Travin Howard...

We‘ve seen some good things... can they build on that? If so... that’s HUGE.


Will the LA Rams start Terrell Burgess next to Jordan Fuller in 2021?

Finding a starting defensive back in an NFL Draft in any given year is a tough task. Finding two starting defensive backs is nearly impossible. But finding two starters for the same secondary is next-to-impossible without a first-round pick. But don’t tell that to the LA Rams general manager Les Snead. You see, he has a way of making the impossible not only possible but likely,

One of the best NFL drafts of any team in landing starting defensive backs occurred in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles when the team drafted Lito Sheppard, Michael Brown, and Sheldon Brown in the same draft. But let’s caveat that by mentioning that the Eagles drafted all three by the 59th selection. In that year, the Eagles draft Sheppard at 26, Lewis and 58, and Brown at 59. The trio would combine to play 429 NFL games. Not a bad haul in one NFL Draft.

And yet, the LA Rams may have outdone that draft. Well, certainly in terms of the potential of striking gold deep in the 2020 NFL Draft, at least. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the LA Rams chose 6-foot-0 198-pound Utah safety Terrell Burgess with the 109th selection. They then doubled down to grab 6-foot-2 204-pound Ohio State University safety Jordan Fuller with the 199th selection.

Both are now very much in the running for starting roles for the top-ranked NFL defense this year. Two starting safeties in 2021 from selections at 109 and 199 in the 202 NFL Draft? That’s almost too good to be true.

The Rams depth chart could boast both 2020 rookies starting at safety

And yet, here we are. I don’t think it is any stretch of the imagination to project 2020 starter Jordan Fuller to reclaim that role in 2021. It’s also looking less likely that the Rams will have the funds necessary to re-sign 2020 veteran safety John Johnson III for 2021. So it comes down to either Terrell Burgess or Taylor Rapp as the other starting safety in 2021. That’s a 50/50 shot right now.

I like Burgess’s chances to win the role.

Burgess was injured in the fourth quarter in the victory against the Chicago Bears, an ankle injury that would shut him down for the rest of the season. Sadly, it was his most impressive game of the season. In one play, he made an incredible open-field tackle on wide receiver/running back Cordarell Patterson at the 10-yard line to keep the Bears pinned deep.

Clearly, he was hurt just as everything ‘clicked’ for him. While that was both disappointing and saddening for the young man for his 2020 rookie season, it sets the stage for a breakout 2021 season.

So why would starting both former rookies Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller at the safety position be so special? Both starting from the same NFL draft class gives them both a shared loyalty and bond that is unique to them both. Since both were drafted in 2020, the LA Rams will enjoy three more NFL seasons of their play before either enter NFL Free Agency, cementing the back end of the LA Rams defense for the foreseeable future.

Taylor Rapp, while very dangerous, seemed to fit the role of third safety very well in 2020, and would be asked to repeat that role if Burgess and Fuller get the safety starts this year. Even before the LA Rams jump headfirst into the 2021 NFL Free Agency market, their roster is taking shape.
If 2019 3rd rd selection CB David Long ever gets his act together maybe the Rams could keep Burgess running with the safety unit. But Long has been one big flop. I have been reminding the few members who do visit that the Rams contracted corner unit is short on talent & numbers. Terrell Burgess is needed as our Nickle corner to line up with Ramsey/Williams.

I think it's a big mistake believing the current contracted ILB'er unit is real ugly. I see the OLB'er unit as the real problem. Travin Howard is going to be a very good ILB'er for the Rams the next two seasons if he can remain healthy. That's one ILB'ing post that will be might pretty! Howard is a far better talent than Kenny Young. Rams have some young latent talented players waiting in the wings @ ILB'er unit in Christian Rozeboom & Derrick Moncrief.

2020 starting ILB Kenny Young is a sure cap casualty if those 2021 contract numbers are correct where he will save the Rams $2.2 million immediately if released. Taylor Rapp would more likely start for Young last season if not for the TC knee injury. I would expect Rapp to see a good amount of action near the LOS this season too making the ILB unit better-looking.;)
 

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If 2019 3rd rd selection CB David Long ever gets his act together maybe the Rams could keep Burgess running with the safety unit. But Long has been one big flop. I have been reminding the few members who do visit that the Rams contracted corner unit is short on talent & numbers. Terrell Burgess is needed as our Nickle corner to line up with Ramsey/Williams.
Agree on David Long, he seems a day late and a dollar short on plays, always chasing the play. Now maybe Long does improve, but focusing on him the best he's done is not breaking up a pass, but tackling a WR short of the line of gain for a first down has been his best play.

The Rams have found some diamond's in the rough in Troy Hill & Darious Williams are Dont'e Deayon or Tyrique McGhee in that category. It was a couple of years ago that @bubbaramfan posted that Deayon was great with his ball awareness skills with the ability to turn his head around and make plays, but listed at 5'9 and at 27 is older then you would like, but that was Williams a few years ago too and the Rams seemed to really like Deayon and the way he competes.

Ejiro Evero is now in charge of the Secondary and is pass game coordinator too, with Aubrey Pleasant now in Detroit, Jonathan Cooley has been promoted to Assistant Secondary Coach so one would surmise how they work with the CB's as Pleasant is gone, but Cooley has that background so hopefully there is no drop off, plus Long has great measurables and IMO, tackles well, now he needs to get in the WR's face, practice more press coverage and not give any ground, but I'm sure the Rams will draft a CB in the 4th round to compete as well as all of us hope the Secondary continues to rise to the occasion under new Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris.