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In a low season with upheavals in the Los Angeles Rams’ secondary, cornerback Jalen Ramsey remains constant. The group’s best player, of course, but also the team’s most vocal and enthusiastic recruiter.
Therefore, it was no surprise to see Ramsey take to Twitter during the NFL draft and encourage Rams fans to “blow up” the mention of then-free-agent safety Tyrann Mathieu. Unfortunately, Ramsey’s hunt for Mathieu did not go far when he signed with the New Orleans Saints.
In the absence of one big move, the Rams were not pale in making plenty of other additions to a secondary who lost cornerback Darious Williams to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.
Overall the list was a trade that made Ramsey quite happy when the Rams sent a fifth-round pick in 2023 to the Cleveland Browns to regain cornerback Troy Hill. Yes, the same Hill who played for the Rams from 2016-20 before signing a $ 9 million two-year deal with Cleveland last season is back in the fold after the Rams struggled to replace him last season.
Armed with seven picks on Day 3 of the draft, the Rams used four of those picks on defensive backs, adding South Carolina State cornerback Decobie Durant in the fourth round, UCLA safety Quentin Lake (sixth round), Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick (sixth round)) and Kansas State Safety Russ Yeast (seventh round).
“DB was definitely something we had to target strategically at,” Rams general manager Les Snead said. “There was a moment when players we liked were still on the board and let’s double, triple.”
If nothing else, the Hills return gives the Rams the stability and versatility needed to complement Ramsey, while the Rams sort through other options that include the aforementioned rookies and people like David Long Jr., Robert Rochell, Grant Haley and Tyler Hall.
Because Ram’s defensive coordinator Raheem Morris likes to use Ramsey throughout the defense, Hill’s ability to do a little of everything should also come in handy.
“He’s a guy who played really good football for us,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I just think that the overall production, the position flexibility, the ability to play that nickel, the star position and being able to play outside and, as they say, the distance makes the heart grow more … Being able to get him back, he was excited, and I know the players are excited to have him back here with us too. “
Hill enjoyed a breakout season with the Rams in 2020, posting three interceptions, 10 assists defending and scoring three defensive touchdowns in the league. In 12 games with the Browns, Hill had no interceptions and only one pass defense.
While Hill said he enjoyed the people he met in Cleveland, he said he learned “the grass is never so green on the other side” in his year away from the Rams.
“Even when I was in Cleveland, I always tried to compare things to how it was done over here in LA,” Hill said. “I do not know if it was me anymore, so I’m just trying to compare as far as it’s a winning program [does]or if I just missed everything that happened over here. “
As for rookies, the current playing time will probably have to come in the form of special teams, but each brings something different to the table that the Rams could use if need be.
No matter how it shakes out in the short term, Snead believes it will pay off in the long run to make the secondary a top priority in this draft.
“I often say in some draft classes, where it’s very reminiscent of a mutual fund, where OK, you want to pick up a lot of players with different skills, genres, and you put them in space, and it’s just a very competitive and obviously deeper space, said Snead.