Rams Could Land the ‘Clone’ of Past Defensive Starter: Analyst


Getty The Rams have been called to get some help for Jalen Ramsey and the defense.

At 3-6 overall, plus dealing with an injury pileup, there are those analysts out there who believe the Los Angeles Rams should be in “keep them picks” mode.

One of them is Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus on Wednesday, November 16.

“The Rams are often left out of most draft discussions because of their propensity to trade away picks, but this season they at least have a second-rounder,” Renner said.

With the trade deadline already coming and going on November 1, the Rams still have that second rounder for 2023 (though general manager Les Snead may have other ideas once the next offseason free agent cycle hits).

But in the meantime, Renner has delivered this proposal to the Rams: Draft the “clone” of a former defensive starter and past ball-hawk who was beloved inside the “Rams House.”

Who’s Mentioned as a Rams Possibility

Renner believes Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson of the unbeaten Texas Christian Horned Frogs is a fit for the Rams.

“They could very well use that or their third-round pick on Hodges-Tomlinson, who can be a Darious Williams clone in their defense,” Renner said.

Williams was one of the key offseason losses from the Rams during the 2022 free agency period, as he signed a blockbuster three-year, $30 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars…which additionally brought him back to his hometown.

But before signing that huge deal, the 5-foot-9, 187-pound Williams became a breakout ball-hawk inside the “Rams House.”

Williams led the league’s best defense in 2020 with four interceptions — including denying six in the end zone against a Seattle Seahawks team once led by Russell Wilson:

The diminutive but feisty Williams then continued to be a closet thorn on the side of Wilson with this breakout play during the playoffs that same season:

And in his final campaign with the Rams that ended with a Super Bowl ring, Williams delivered eight games of allowing 39 receiving yards or less up his side per Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth, Hodges-Tomlinson has emerged as an All-Conference First Team performer in the always pass-happy Big 12.

“The TCU corner is only 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, but he’s played far bigger than that over his career and has the kind of athleticism to stick in the league,” Renner wrote. “He’s broken up 24 passes and picked off five more in three seasons as a starter while allowing a sub-40% completion percentage.”

The latter stat is most telling because again, Hodges-Tomlinson and the Horned Frogs deal with more Spread Offense and Air Raid looks in the Lonestar State. He most recently denied the sky against a high-powered Texas Longhorns offense.

He even showed his scrapper side while zeroing in on 6-foot-4, 242-pound tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders in that win at Austin:

He also raised his game up a notch facing Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year Xavier Worthy — including delivering an early pass breakup and undercutting him for the interception as seen in these clips.

Is Secondary Help Really Needed?

The Rams currently have allowed the 12th fewest passing yards at 1,932. They’ve also allowed the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns as they’re tied with three other teams with 11 surrendered.

And, the Rams drafted two rookies they’ve been high on for the future in Derion Kendrick and Decobie Durant plus welcomed back valuable veteran nickelback Troy Hill. So is the secondary a true need?

Kendrick has been lauded by both Jalen Ramsey and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris for his savvy-ness and aggressive nature at aiming to capitalize on plays. The first-year defender from Georgia has taken the second most coverage snaps among the CB unit at 215 per PFF. But he was replaced by veteran David Long in the Week 10 loss to the Cardinals.

Long, though, becomes an unrestricted free agent come March 2023. Same with Hill. Grant Haley, who’s seen action on 89 coverage plays, is also a UFA.

Depth at CB moving forward will be a must for the Rams. And now they have a chance to add a Williams-like presence that’s been missing from this year’s defense — through a defender who’s helped elevate unbeaten TCU to a No. 4 ranking.

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