The month of June is often reserved for polls and rankings that help with the buildup of the upcoming NFL season, and the Los Angeles Rams have had players like Jalen Ramsey listed as the best for his position or the offensive line unit placed in the top 10 by various national outlets.
Now, Bleacher Report is the latest to give an integral part of the Rams’ defense a high ranking: The cornerback duo of Ramsey and Darious Williams.
Maurice Moton of B/R released his top five CB tandems for the forthcoming season on Thursday and the Ram teammates came in at No. 3. Moton placed the Baltimore Ravens pairing of Marlon Humphrey and former L.A. Ram Marcus Peters as his top CB tandem. Interestingly, Moton listed the New England Patriots duo of J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore ahead of the Ramsey/Williams, despite Gilmore’s displeasure with the Pats’ organization and Ramsey trying to recruit the disgruntled lockdown corner to the Rams.
What B/R Says about Ramsey/Williams
Moton pinpointed to Ramsey’s coverage ability and Williams’ ball-hawking skills as the reasons behind the high ranking.
Regarding the new No. 5 for the Rams, Moton wrote “Ramsey’s interception numbers (11) may not jump off the screen, but according to Pro Football Focus, he’s allowed fewer than 30 yards in coverage in half of his starts, which illustrates the star cornerback’s ability to shut down half the field.”
Moton then called the fourth-year CB from the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) “a budding talent paired with him (Ramsey) on the boundary.” While Ramsey is lauded for his coverage ability and is considered the more heralded CB, the 5-foot-9, 187-pound Williams was one of the surprise breakout performers of the league’s best defense one year ago.
Williams snatched four interceptions to lead the Rams in 2020. He also swatted away 14 passes from the sky, another team-high. Those numbers were a jump from his 2019 production, when he picked off two passes and broke up four in 12 games.
Moton, who has written for Bleacher Report for four years, is a believer Williams’ production won’t take a dive with new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris on board. Plus reminded that Williams will be playing for his third defensive coordinator in his Rams career.
“The Rams lost defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who accepted the Los Angeles Chargers’ head coaching job, but his departure shouldn’t hinder Williams’ development. In 2019, he flashed his ball-tracking skills with two interceptions and four pass breakups in a reserve role under Wade Phillips,” Moton wrote. “At 5-foot-9, 187-pounds, Williams doesn’t have the prototypical size of an outside cornerback, though we cannot overlook his production opposite Ramsey, who may not see many targets because of his stellar coverage.”
Williams was a high-level performer inside the red zone. Three of his four picks arrived near or inside the end zone.
He also gave Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson his worst moments in the 2020-21 season by picking him off three times during the season, twice in the week 10 victory, and snatching this memorable pick six in the NFC Wildcard game that helped advance the Rams.
Pro Football Focus Likes One CB More
While Ramsey has been hailed as the league’s best cornerback by CBS Sports and USA Today’s Touchdown Wire, PFF went with a different player grade for Ramsey: A 79.8 rating.
Williams, though, is the higher rated CB on the Rams by PFF, coming in with a player grade of 80.0. According to the analytics website, Williams surrendered 34 catches on 68 targets, meaning he allowed an average of two receptions his way. Ramsey was slightly targeted less, with 64 lobs his way and allowing 32 receptions, also an average of just two catches surrendered a game.
While Moton plugs the Rams pair at No. 3 overall, Ramsey and Williams have this added label courtesy of him and B/R: The highest-ranked CB tandem in the NFC for 2021.