Cornerback Options For Rams

– C.J. Wilson: 6’1, 195, 26-yo CB cut by Carolina, where he’s primarily played special teams since 2007. Rams worked him out last week. Solid tackler with good cover skills; can also play safety. Doesn’t have great speed, is most comfortable in zone. Anticipates well and is a big-play threat. Young, with the size the Rams like: I’ll call Wilson the clubhouse favorite to join the team.

– Roderick Hood: 5’11, 198, 29-yo cut by Tennessee. Missed all of last year there due to torn ACL. Was here for a physical in August, and I believe also worked out here in 2010. Nickelback from Steve Spagnuolo’s Philadelphia years. Sticks to receivers well, has good hands and can turn mistakes into pick-sixes. Had 3 picks in just 6 games with Titans in 2009 as midseason replacement for Nick Harper. Titans fans howled when Harper got his starting job back. Subpar tackler and jammer, will bite on fakes and give up big plays. Rams keep flirting with signing Hood, but I wonder if they trust his knees. Seems like this team has enough issues like that. But Hood’s high on the list.

– Tim Atchison: 6’1, 200, 23-yo free agent cut by the Rams in the final roster cutdown. I thought he was going to make the main roster. Atchison’s great in the short area of the field. In preseason, he broke up slant passes, stuffed quick screens and showed he could defend the end zone fade pass. He saved the Tennessee game at the end with great closing speed from safety. He played corner and safety this season; perhaps the Rams believe he’s more of a safety and won’t look to him now. He also blew several deep coverages. I still think he’s a serviceable option.

– Josh Gordy: 5’11, 195, 24, currently on Rams practice squad, formerly on Packers’ PS. Good quickness, footwork, anticipation, always around ball, doesn’t bite on fakes, another sure-handed big-play threat. Could easily get the call. Packers know how to develop DBs.

– Jonathan Nelson: 5’11, 182, 23, Rams’ third pick in the seventh round, now on practice squad. From what I saw this summer, Nelson made the most impact on special teams. Gordy seems much more likely to get the call.

– Nathan Vasher: 5’11, 185, 29. Came into Lions camp as their starting nickelback but got beat out for the job. Average-at-best nickel at this point of his career. 5 starts last year, 1 INT. Eh, the Rams could do worse.

– Jonathan Wade: 5’11, 200, 27-yo former Rams third-round pick. Cut in Detroit at the beginning of last year after being, as Rotoworld described him, “one of the most burnable cornerbacks in football.” Signed with Cincinnati later in 2010 and became their starter right off the street, and held his own. It was considered a surprise that Cincinnati released him this preseason. Not a great option, and I doubt Spagnuolo would go there having cut Wade before.

– Quincy Butler: 6’1, 190, 27, has played here for a couple of tours. Shows big-play ability at times but has been inconsistent and mistake-prone, especially on special teams. Could have some value as a brain dump since he’s spent a lot of time in camp with the Saints. Don’t rule him out, but don’t expect him, either.

(Cue Vince McMahon’s entrance music)

– Will Allen: 5’10, 195, 33-yo recently worked out with the Patriots. Miami released him last week. A possibility because I’m pretty sure Spagnuolo has coached him. Has played only 6 games since 2008, though, and has been IR’ed twice due to knee injuries. The Rams already have Al Harris.

– Lito Sheppard: 5’10, 194, 30-yo just cut by the Raiders. His name has come up a lot in recent years in Rams Nation, and Spagnuolo coached him at Philadelphia. So it should be instrumental that the Rams never look to Sheppard when they have a secondary problem. Spagnuolo would rather go with Hood, even with the injuries. I doubt he’s got the size Spags prefers. Sheppard’s had a diva reputation, and no longer backs it up with his play. ESPN’s Vikings blogger gave him a D grade for last season. He gave up 5 TDs, missed a lot of tackles and has clearly lost a step. High name recognition, but no chance he becomes a Ram.

– Terrence Wheatley: 5’9, 185, 26-yo cut by the Jagwires. The Rams will have recent tape on him from preseason, and he’s a former high draft pick, but he’s too small, has been inconsistent and injured a lot, and it’s a bad sign that he couldn’t make a team with one of the league’s worst secondaries.

RamView’s guess: C.J. Wilson will be on the active roster Monday night, though I expect to see him only on special teams so the Rams don’t have to expose King there. King will start at corner and move to the slot in nickel situations, with Al Harris playing outside. Let’s hope King makes a leap forward from last week.


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2 Responses to “Cornerback Options For Rams”

  1. Zach Martin says:

    Hello from Three Yards! (A multi-author blog I founded, and I’m a Rams man for life)

    Just a question I had, after reading this; taking away the fact that the Eagles receivers’ speed and Michael Vick’s influence away, who on this list do you think has the best shot at shutting down, say, Larry Fitzgerald or Tedd Ginn, should it come down to that? The only way to the playoffs is to win the division, so I believe we should focus on selecting a guy who matches up well with the West’s elite passcatchers.

    -Zach Martin, Three Yards

  2. Mike says:

    Zach, your question is far better than my qualifications to answer it.

    I think the Rams are going to use some combination of King and Harris to do what you’re asking about, so I figure they’d look for a nickel-type with special teams experience and upside.

    If they’re looking for a #2 corner, off this list, I would lean toward Hood if his knee checked out. None of the options are very great. Hood’s combination of experience, size and physicality is closest to Ron Bartell’s. Fitzgerald always said Bartell gives him the most trouble. Hood should have practiced against Fitzgerald plenty of times, too. He can (or could) play outside or nickel. Most of the other options I’d think would be looked at as nickel at best.

    –Mike

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