One one play during the first half, the rookie grabbed the arm of Tyler Lockett and was called for defensive pass interference. Then, while covering Seattle Seahawks behemoth and All-Pro DK Metcalf in the fourth, Rochell froze up on the pass before turning to Metcalf…only to find the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder alone in the end zone.
Rochell received his NFL version of an educational lesson. But how did he respond? With a key late pass breakup that proved he wasn’t going to fail this field test against the defending NFC West champions.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder from Central Arkansas of the Football Championship Subdivision realm got tested. He wound up allowing three catches on four targets and surrendered 36 yards, plus received a 60 coverage grade by Pro Football Focus. But as his head coach Sean McVay told the L.A. media on Friday in a video conference after the 26-17 road win, he liked how Rochell never flinched once.
“I liked the way Rochell handled himself,” McVay said.
McVay Describes Rookie’s Toughness
Again, any rookie who makes those mental errors in an NFL setting runs the risk of mentally checking out of the game.
Not Rochell, per McVay.
“Sometimes when you get thrown in the fire like that: He misjudged the one touchdown to Metcalf a little bit, but he made a huge breakup on Lockett on the next drive,” McVay said. “He’s a mentally tough kid. He’s unfazed. It’s not too big for him. I like the look in his eye during games too.”
And in moments where mental errors occur for a rookie, McVay uses those moments to determine what the demeanor and attitude becomes for the beaten rook.
“You can get a really good feel for some of these younger players just by what does it look like? How do they handle the ebbs and flows of a game?” McVay said. “And when the stuff really counts – especially in that type of atmosphere and environment, and certainly wasn’t perfect, but his competitiveness, his toughness, his resolve, all those things that I think are really important to be a good football player. I thought that was demonstrated yesterday (versus Seattle) and I think he’s only going to improve and get more and more comfortable and confident.”
Rochell Has Shown Flashes of Potential
Rochell may not have the most eye-catching stats through five games. But he has shown spurts of the reason why the Rams drafted him.
Back in May, the Rams explained how the team’s scouting department liked how long Rochell was while accompanied with strong ball skills. Rams Southwest Plains scout Cedric Jones also liked his recovery speed.
He’s made plays like this already:
McVay is another who takes a liking to Rochell’s length, saying “He’s a long guy in person and he plays long. There are certain guys that are big that don’t play big, but he plays with great length.”
Rochell has been on the field on 99 total plays this season per PFF. He may have surrendered five total catches his side for 56 yards and the Metcalf TD, but he’s limited the yards after catch to four and he’s swatted two passes.
With Williams sidelined, it points to Rochell getting an increased load. McVay believes Rochell is ready with the intangibles he possesses, which points to him as a possible starter or manning slot CB in Williams’ absence.
“He’s got tools. He’s got those traits for a guy that didn’t have a whole lot of experience where everybody wants to use the phrase ‘Oh, he’s green.’ I think he’s got a great football acumen and a good feel, but that repetition is the mother of learning,” McVay said.