Rams’ David Long Jr. touted as NFL’s most underrated CB
There’s no doubt the Los Angeles Rams saw the cornerback as a major needy position this offseason after losing Darious Williams in free agency. They traded for Troy Hill, then drafted both Decobie Durant and Derion Kendrick on Day 3 of the draft, bringing on board three cornerbacks in the span of hours.
It was seen as a bad sign for David Long Jr., but he still has a good chance of starting alongside Jalen Ramsey and Hill this season. Although he had his share of ups and downs last season, he ended the year on a high note playing some of his best football in the playoffs.
That late-season streak earned him recognition from Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar as the NFL‘s most underrated slots defender.
The common narrative with the Rams is that they sacrificed their draft picks for a few big names and made a dream team to earn a Super Bowl victory. A good story, but not the whole story – in truth, general manager Les Snead and his team did an outstanding job of extracting value from players in the closing rounds. Long, taken in the third round of Michigan’s 2019 draft, is just one example. Long had limited reps in his first two seasons in the NFL, but in 2021 he made 671 snaps and became one of the top slots defenders in the league. From inside, Long allowed 12 catches on 21 targets for 66 yards, 42 yards after catch, no touchdowns, one interception and the league’s lowest opposing passer rating allowed at 43.0. (Miami’s Justin Coleman ranked second with an allowable passer rating of 61.1).
In four playoff games, Long has never had an overall rating below 55.4, according to Pro Football Focus. He was particularly good at coverage, allowing 13 catches on 20 targets for just 79 yards and zero touchdowns with an interception.
It was good to see him bounce back after being dropped from the starting lineup earlier in the season, replaced by Robert Rochell for a few games. And that year-end response has Long’s arrow pointing to the 2022 campaign.
“I don’t think you can downplay David Long’s good work last year as well,” McVay said last week. “I think he played very well throughout the playoffs. A handful of big, meaningful shots.
He’s definitely a player to watch in the secondary as he looks to retain Rochell and the other young Rams cornerbacks.