A good rookie season is no guarantee of a promising next season, and there is perhaps no better example of this in the league.Los Angeles-RamsLists as cornerback Robert Rochell.
The Rams were camped out at a tucked-away Malibu Hills mansion when they left.2021 NFL Draft. The coaches and staff promised they'd jump into the expansive front yard pool if the right player turned up: a "pool party pick." The team selected catcher Tutu Atwell with the first pick of him in the second round, followed by MLB Ernest Jones third and DT Bobby Brown 117 overall in fourth.
13 selections after theThe Rams were back on the clock and the team took Rochell,an incredibly athletic corner of central Arkansas. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and others jumped into the pool, which wastriggered by metrics comparing you to an elite group of advocates.
"Since 2015, when we started our internal observation system called 'JARS,' we've had 5,000 different quarterbacks that we have (measurable) statistics for," said Jake Temme, the Rams' manager of data and analytics. "And within our internal weight/athletics measurement adjustment mechanism, called the RSDI (Ram Standard Deviation Index), he was in the top 10% for the cornerback position."
At 6-2, 195 pounds,Corners must not run a 4.39-40 yard dash, jumping 43 inches vertically or jumping more than 11 feet, but that's exactly what the Rams did at Rochell. While it was clear the corner was far from a finished product on the field due to collegiate competition in central Arkansas and western Kentucky, theRams worked with a rare combination of structure and athleticism..
Rochell's early dividends as a rookie indicated bright days were ahead.
Rochell was in action in his fourth NFL game against the USA.Seattle Seahawks, who present a formidable challenge with receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. The rookie corner played 54 snaps and tied four goals in his first game. He allowed a completion for a touchdown, and three completions for a total of 36 yards, but Rochell also exploded to punt a perfect touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Lockett.
His starting debut was exactly what the Rams had hoped for, as the coaches jumped in the pool after making their draft pick.
Of course, Rochell's production has its ups and downs, he still has a lot to learn about football. But he also saw the promise that he brings to his athleticism by deflecting a jump pass to one of the NFL's most prolific deep threat receivers. Getting what seemed like a safe touchdown played a big part in helping the Rams secure a win over their divisional foe.
Rochell made another start the following week atNew York Giants, and it's been a busy day for him at work. Daniel Jones and Mike Glennon targeted the rookie nine times and completed just five passes for 69 yards, but Rochell also got away with an interception, good for a traditional passer rating of just 40.7.
Cornerback Robert Rochell got his chance this Sunday to perform against the Arizona Passing Attack. The Rams' reserves need to be bolstered tomorrow. Physically, Rochell has all the tools. He should have plenty of chances to play the ball tomorrow.pic.twitter.com/hqhmxr4ql0— RAMS WITHOUT FILM (@RamsOnFilm)September 25, 2022
The remainder of Rochell's 2021 campaign would be marred by injuries, starting in Weeks 9 and 10, but only playing 36 total snaps in those two games. As the Rams pushed deep into the playoffs and finally pulled off a winsuper bowlLVI, Rochell played his last ball of the year on matchday 13 againstJacksonville-Jaguar. It was a one play save in this contest.
Rochell's disappearance in 2022
The Rams entered the 2022 NFL Draft with plans to rebuild their school. Eric Weddle, a key member of the Super Bowl team, has retired. Perennial starter Darious Williams was traded to free agency at a price Los Angeles was unwilling to match, and vaulters Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp would also hit the open market a year later.
With that in mind, it wasn't a surprise that the Rams used four draft picks in the later rounds to inject new blood into the defensive line. Cornerback Cobie Durant was selected in the fourth round, followed by Derion Kendrick in the sixth. Safe LA escaped with Quentin Lake and Russ Yeast. The Rams also acquired a trusted veteran during the draft, trading thecleveland brownsto Troy Hill in exchange for elections in 2023.
Robert Rochell was hit by the returner, but still made a ridiculous play to prevent the ball from going to a touchback.pic.twitter.com/XBoUvUV2Au— (@TL_LArams)December 6, 2021
Suddenly, Rochell faced stiff competition as the team looked to replace Williams' starting job.
Back in training camp, when star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was hampered by his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, there were signs that Rochell was buried on the depth chart. David Long, who had a checkered career as a Ram but hauled in a vital defensive touchdown in the playoffs, became the first man to replace Williams.
When Los Angeles lost Hill and Long to injuries in just the second game of the season, it was Durant who was called up against Rochell. Kendrick also started in Week 3 againstarizona cardinals.Rochell was nowhere to be found..
Can the Rams count on Rochell in 2023?
After participating in 223 snaps and being targeted 20 times as a rookie, Rochell has only been on the field for 27 snaps and only one target in 2022.
Can the lack of playing time at the corner be attributed to some sort of injury that left him struggling to stay on the field and play on special teams? Rochell also had some crazy things as him on special teams,Riley Dixon was unable to knock down multiple punts before rolling into the end zonein the last game against the Seahawks.
Wowwww, that's double what the Rams could have put in at 1 and Rochell couldn't.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls)January 9, 2023
The Rams are likely to add cornerback talent before the 2023 season, and a high draft pick could push Rochell to the side of the roster. Can the third-year corner show up during training camp and skip Durant or Kendrick on the depth chart?
In some ways, it's unfair and reckless for the Rams not to draft Rochell: The team knew when they drafted him that they needed to invest in his sporting attributes and be patient with his football development. How can a young player develop football acumen without stepping foot on the pitch? The Rams need a plan to unleash the full potential of their young corner, someone they jumped in the pool for less than two years ago.
Is it time for the Rams to get rid of Robert Rochell or will he assume a role on the 2023 team?