As the injuries stacked one on top of the other, including safety and past captain Jordan Fuller going down, many believed the Los Angeles Rams would witness the safety spot become an instant weakness.
A former running back, however, who was also labeled a “practice squad candidate” before his NFL career began clearly had other ideas. And now, even through this rough 3-8 mark and five-game losing streak, the Rams have proven they discovered a rare gem…who has even won over one prominent NFL analyst on Tuesday, November 29.
From 7th Rounder to Leader in Multiple Defensive Categories
Nick Scott has gone from the 29th pick in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft to emerging as a rare leader of a defensive unit that’s kept the Rams in games this season.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Scott wasn’t even considered a starter when the season began — as Fuller and Taylor Rapp were lined up to man the safety spots. But here’s what Scott has done since:
- Leads the Rams with two interceptions.
- Leads all Ram safeties with four pass deflections, which also ties him for second on the team.
- Has forced two fumbles which is the most on the defense.
- His 36 solo tackles are the best in the Rams’ safety room.
- He’s the only Rams safety with a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Scott is the leader of five different categories among the Ram safeties — which includes leading the team in two of the more prominent defensive areas of interceptions and forced fumbles. And this is production from a guy who, in 2014, was toting the rock in Fairfax, Virginia by racking up 1,589 rushing yards his senior season.
Not only that, his draft profile by nfl.com gave him a 5.40 prospect grade which means he’s projected to be a “candidate for the bottom of the roster or practice squad.”
“Running back turned safety with eye-popping speed and explosion numbers to counter his limited amount of starts and production at Penn State. Scott is a plus athlete and fierce but erratic tackler whose recognition and technique versus both the run and pass fall below NFL standards,” draft expert for nfl.com Lance Zierlein wrote. “He’s a developmental prospect who will need to play with much greater consistency to make a roster and find the field, but he could make a name for himself as a special teams specialist in time.”
Scott got his start on the special teams side. Now he’s become a rare breakthrough story on a defense featuring three All-Pros in Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey. The former Penn State Nittany Lion even won over one renowned NFL analyst who recognized his play in Week 12 versus the Kansas City Chiefs.
‘One of the Best Draft Picks They’ve Made’
Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network highlighted Scott in his Tuesday edition of “Baldy’s Breakdowns.”
But before the former NFL offensive lineman known as “Baldy” shined a light on Scott’s first impactful play from Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, November 27, Baldinger gave Scott this title.
“One of the best draft picks they’ve made in the last couple of years,” Baldinger proclaimed.
Then, “Baldy” zeroed in on how Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco had a wide lane to the end zone…except Scott “blows it all up” and knocked over Donald and Wagner in the process. But it’s Pacheco who gets knocked backwards on what was looking like an open trip for six points.
He also dove into Scott’s interception inside the end zone, before ending his breakdown with these six words:
“Nick Scott’s a good player man,” Baldinger concluded in the clip.
Scott himself spoke about the Patrick Mahomes pick with reporters on Zoom on Monday, November 28.
“He’s an off schedule thrower. So I was just trying to be visual and make a play,” Scott said.
He also chose not to glorify the fact he picked off a past Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, saying it “wasn’t anything special. It was a bad throw by him. So just got to make him pay.”
What’s in Store for Scott’s Future?
Scott has proven to step up and emerge in what’s been a down year in the “Rams House.”
But who could step in and reward Scott with a new deal? And will the Rams prevent him from drifting off?
The Rams face the dilemma of losing Scott come March 2023, as he’s in the final year of his four-year, $2,597,328 deal. His 2022 base salary also increased to $965,000 per Spotrac and becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. He and Rapp are UFAs for the next free agent cycle.
Regardless, Scott has gone from longshot to make an NFL roster in his transition to safety to proving the Rams snatched a rare seventh round gem as one of the more improved players on the Los Angeles roster.