The Los Angeles Rams have questions at the cornerback position well beyond the 2019 season. Aqib Talib is nearing the end of his contract and career. Marcus Peters will be looking for a big extension after the 2019 season. The only cornerback on the Rams’ payroll beyond the 2020 season in Nickell Robey-Coleman whose contract expires in 2021. This makes Michigan’s David Long, a Pasadena native, a perfect option in this year’s draft.
College stats and honors:
2018: 17 tackles, 1 interception and 6 pass deflections.
Career: 37 tackles, 3 interceptions and 12 pass deflections.
Honors: Starting in 26 of 30 games. 2018 Skill Player of the Year Award (first winner of award). Lowest passer rating allowed when targeted among all other FBS cornerbacks in 2017. Allowed only 18 catches on 595 snaps for entire college career at Michigan.
David Long is a smart cover corner who excels in man-to-man coverage. He has solid footwork (stays square and rarely trips himself up when on the line of scrimmage), and when he flips upfield his hips twist smoothly. Long registered a 4.45 40-yard dash (tied for 8th best among defensive backs at the 2019 NFL combine). He also had the fastest three cone drill (6.45) and short shuttle (3.97) out of everyone at the NFL combine. This shows that Long has the speed to keep up with mostly anybody at the professional level and the athleticism to develop into one of the better corners in the NFL.
Though David Long’s stats at Michigan does not pop out by any means, watching the film tells you all you need to know. Opposing offenses rarely threw the ball his way. The respect he was given by opposing teams made sense. Whenever quarterbacks targeted the receivers he guarded, Long was able to get his hands on most of the balls – batting them away or grabbing one of his three career interceptions
The only real weakness that comes to mind with David Long is his size. At 5’11” and 196 pounds, Long did struggle against bigger receivers and receivers who had strong route running. These opponents are able to knock Long off of his technique and get more space against him. Long also has to improve as a run stopper to become an every down cornerback in the NFL. Long struggles to get off blocks. Because of his size, he seems to struggle creating space to get off blocks. If this continues to be an issue in the NFL, Long seems more of a fit for the slot corner position.
Expected Draft Round:
David Long has done a excellent job to increase his draft stock, since the end of the college football season. His less than stellar stats at Michigan makes him look like a late round draft pick to the naked eye. But if you actually watched the tape, you would see why opposing offenses didn’t throw the ball near him. The respect he was given at the college level speaks to his abilities. Long is a top five cornerback, in this year’s draft. Expect him to go early on day two. If Long is still on the board in the third round, he will be a steal for whoever gets him.