If you just looked at the positions of all the players the Los Angeles Rams acquired on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft, one position, in particular, stands out: Defensive back.
The Rams drafted, or traded, for five defensive backs on Saturday, April 30. They selected South Carolina State cornerback Decobie Durant in the fourth round, UCLA safety Quentin Lake in the sixth round, Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick in the sixth round, and Kansas State safety Russ Yeast in the seventh round. On top of all of that, they traded for former Ram Troy Hill, sending a 2023 pick to the Browns in order to return the cornerback to Los Angeles.
As the Rams’ secondary room welcomed five new (and one case, old) faces on Saturday, Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead shared why defensive back was a focus for the team.
Rams ‘Strategically’ Targeted Defensive Backs On Day 3
The departure of Darious Williams and Donte Deayon’s uncertain future with the team helped make cornerback a need for the Rams entering the 2022 NFL Draft. But no one expected them to go this crazy targeting defensive backs.
However, this was the plan from the beginning for Snead.
“DB was definitely something we were going to strategically target,” Snead told reporters on Saturday. “There was a moment where players we liked were still on the board, and let’s double-down, triple-down.”
Los Angeles had a whopping seven picks to make on Saturday. But when it came time to trade for Hill, it didn’t want to move with one of the picks from the ongoing draft. Instead, Snead wanted to tap into next year’s draft pick well, in which the Rams had seven picks with some more compensation picks likely coming, trading a 2023 fifth-round pick to get the deal done.
“[Browns general manager] Andrew [Berry] and I were talking about it and we were discussing ways to get it done, and at the end of the day, [it was] going to the comps,” Snead said. “Because we probably have seven picks next year and expect to get four comps. Now, we can’t trade comps yet, that’s just an expectation, it will probably happen. But it does allow you to go, ‘OK, we’ve got 11 picks,’ and the Browns, they had a lot of picks on the second day, so we said, ‘You know what, it’s probably best that we do something – better for both of us – that we do something in the future.”
Who are the new guys?
Obviously, Hill is the most known and established player in the group of defensive backs acquired on Saturday. But after being a regular starter for the Rams from 2016-20, Hill started just four games for the Browns in 2021 and his first interception-less season in four years. Los Angeles appears to be buying low on the 30-year-old in hopes that Hill can regain his old magic in his former home.
Durant was a ballhawk during his time in college, recording 12 interceptions over four years. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein worries that Decobie’s 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame could make him a liability in the pros, though.
Lake is the son of former NFL Pro Bowl defensive back, Carnell Lake. He had a solid senior season at UCLA, recording 53 total tackles and three interceptions. Zierlein praised Lake’s football IQ and intangibles, but questioned his athleticism.
After transferring from Clemson, Kendrick had a tremendous season as part of Georgia’s historic defense in 2021. He had a career-high four interceptions as the Bulldogs won the title. Zierlein projects Kendrick works best as a nickel corner due to his inability to cover possession receivers well.