he Rams rebuilt their cornerback depth chart Tuesday. In addition to putting veteran Aqib Talib on injured reserve, they traded away one former All-Pro cornerback, Marcus Peters, to the Ravens and then acquired another in Jaguars standout Jalen Ramsey. It’s clear they didn’t get what they wanted when they traded a second-round pick and a swap of selections in 2018 to the Chiefs for Peters; is this trade likely to go better?
I’m not surprised that L.A. traded Peters and made a move for Ramsey. I suggested last week that they could make both these moves, though I put them together as part of a swap sending Peters to Jacksonville. Over the past few years, the Rams have repeatedly used their top draft picks to target talented players still on rookie deals. If the draft is full of uncertainty, the Rams’ solution is to wait and see who pans out and trade their picks accordingly.
The problem with that philosophy, though, has already begun to rear its head for this team in 2019. As constructed before the Ramsey trade, this Rams roster had major holes along the offensive line and at edge rusher and cornerback. Injuries have deprived them of several key contributors in Talib, Clay Matthews and Todd Gurley, but those are also two 33-year-olds and a running back with knee issues. Building a roster in which a team is counting on those guys to stay healthy is a risky proposition.
In lieu of drafting and developing a cornerback with a first-round pick, the Rams have now committed two first-round picks and a second-round pick to solving a point of weakness on their roster. Cornerback was a problem for them, and Ramsey should be a major upgrade on Peters, whose inconsistency had grown exhausting. It’s one thing to get overmatched by a superior receiver; it’s another to stop running against Mike Evans in man coverage.
Trading for Ramsey could transform the Rams’ defense. According to ESPN’s coverage analysis from the NFL’s Next Gen data, the Rams have played some version of a man-to-man concept in their secondary on just 34% of their snaps in 2019, down from 41% in 2018 and 53% in 2017. Ramsey’s desire to play in a man scheme and take out the opposing team’s No. 1 wideout is well-known. I would suspect that trading for Ramsey will encourage defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to send more pressure and play tight man coverage behind.