Cornerback jumped toward the top of the Los Angeles Rams’ draft needs this year when Troy Hill signed with the Cleveland Browns. The Rams still have Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams, but they have a void to fill at nickel corner – a position that could be taken over by David Long Jr.
But the team is clearly in the market for a corner based on its pre-draft meetings, potentially even taking one in the second round. Here are nine cornerbacks the Rams could target in the draft, ranging from early-round prospects to Day 3 players.
Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The Rams certainly have their eyes on Samuel, who they’ve met with multiple times already in the pre-draft process. He’s not the biggest cornerback, but he’s got great speed to run with receivers deep and good short-area quickness to match up in the slot. He might be the best fit of any cornerback outside the first round for the Rams and would be able to slide in seamlessly as the team’s new slot corner alongside Ramsey and Williams. He should be on a short list of targets at No. 57 for Los Angeles.
Elijah Molden, Washington
Molden is almost strictly a slot cornerback or safety, which is fine for what the Rams are looking for. He’s only 5-foot-9 and ran a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash, limiting his ability to move outside because matching up with bigger and faster wideouts will prove challenging. What makes Molden a solid second-round target are his instincts and coverage skills. He plays with great anticipation and is a scrappy defender, willing to stick his nose in the pile to make a tackle. His size isn’t ideal, but as we’ve seen countless times, you don’t need to be physically imposing to contribute as a slot defender.
Aaron Robinson, UCF
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Robinson is another player who should primarily cover the slot. He’s 5-foot-11 and only 186 pounds, bringing into question his size and play strength on defense. But he’s extremely quick, which is a crucial quality for slot defenders. He picked off three passes (all in 2019) and had 21 deflections at UCF, starting for two years. Robinson has the anticipation and quickness to make it in the NFL, as well as the straight-line speed (4.38) to hold up outside if needed. He’s another second-round prospect the Rams could target for their void at corner.
Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon
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The Rams met with Graham this offseason and he seems like a player they could consider in the middle rounds. He’s not the biggest corner (5-foot-10) and doesn’t have elite speed (4.48), but he showed good ball skills (eight interceptions and 40 PBU) and is a willing tackler, making him a well-rounded cornerback. He could wind up being a steal on Day 3 at some point and is certainly someone the Rams will consider selecting if they don’t take a cornerback early.
Eric Stokes, Georgia
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Stokes tested well at his pro day with a 4.29 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical, also timing 6.96 in the three-cone drill, all of which are solid numbers. At Georgia, he had four interceptions (all in 2020) and 26 passes defensed, primarily playing outside. His speed obviously makes him a good matchup corner for faster wideouts and only allowed a completion rate of 38.5% last season, according to Dane Brugler of The Athletic. Stokes’ pro day could get him drafted earlier than expected, but there’s a chance he’ll be there at No. 57.
Kary Vincent Jr., LSU
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Vincent is undersized (5-9, 185) and lacks strength (eight reps on the bench press), but those aren’t the only traits that make a quality slot corner. He opted out of the 2020 season but the last time he was on the field, he had 13 passes defensed and four interceptions. He’s primarily a slot defender who can also play some safety as he did in college, possessing good speed and athleticism for the position. The Rams could use help at both nickel corner and possibly safety, adding another versatile piece to the secondary if he winds up being a Day 3 pick for them.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Melifonwu was a player everyone wanted to watch at the Senior Bowl, possessing an eye-popping combination of size (6-2, 205), speed (4.48) and quickness. He’s not going to be a candidate to cover the slot with the Rams because of his size, but few players have the potential that he has when talking about second-round prospects. He could even sneak into the first round because of his frame and athleticism, as well as the ball skills he showed at Syracuse (26 PBU, three INTs). The Rams may not get a chance to draft him but Melifonwu’s ceiling is extremely high.
Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas
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In four years at Central Arkansas, Rochell broke up a whopping 38 passes and had 10 interceptions. The college production is certainly there, as are the length and speed teams want to see from an NFL cornerback. He primarily played outside corner in college, which is where he’ll probably line up at the next level, but with his athleticism and tackling, it’s not unreasonable to think he can move inside at times, too. Rochell could be a target in the third or fourth rounds.
Darren Hall, San Diego State
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Hall has experience at both cornerback and safety, showing good position flexibility at SDSU. He pulled in six interceptions and broke up 31 passes in three seasons as a contributor, showcasing great coverage skills. The Rams met with Hall this spring and could consider taking him on Day 3, adding depth to their secondary at corner and safety. His instincts and ball skills could make him a good value pick on Saturday of the draft.