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Grading David Long’s 79th overall selection

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The Los Angeles Rams selected cornerback, David Long with the 79th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Long adds needed depth and development behind Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Neither Peters or Talib are guaranteed to be on the roster after the 2019-2020 season. David Long is a good cover corner and you can never have enough of those in the NFL.  Most people seem to like the selection of Long, although there have been others that weren’t fans of the pick.

Whatever your stance on Long, you can’t deny that cornerback wasn’t a need. Did the Rams land a steal? Does Long play in 2019? These are questions will loom in our minds, but Long figures to be an important part of the Rams future secondary. Wade Phillips and cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant seem excited to get Long back home in Los Angeles.

Never enough cornerbacks

As of this moment, Talib and Peters are gone after the season. The Rams have expressed interest in bringing Peters back but that is likely dependent on his play this upcoming season. Talib could return, but is aging and had a significant injury last year. Nickell Robey-Coleman is a slot corner and behind the Rams top three, nobody has set themselves apart as a future piece. Long changes that, he likely earns a reserve spot behind Talib or Peters right away and pushes Troy Hill down the depth chart.

Long provides insurance should an injury occur again. He also provides a player to develop for the future beyond 2019. Long gives the Rams a talented cover corner who could end up being a huge steal for them. The Rams had to address the cornerback position in this draft and they missed out on guys like Greedy Williams when they traded down to ultimately select Taylor Rapp. Long provides necessary depth at one of the most premium positions in the NFL.

What the Rams are receiving in Long

Long was a two-year starter at Michigan after playing sparingly as a freshman. Long produced 38 tackles, 3 interceptions and 17 pass deflections. While those stats don’t seem eye popping, they are. Long was rarely targeted as a Wolverine and for a good reason. In 2017 and 2018 he was targeted a total of 60 times and only allowed 18 total receptions for 130 total yards and 2 first downs. Long only allowed 1 touchdown his entire career and the longest reception he ever allowed was 24 yards.

Long is arguably the best press-man corner in this whole draft class. Note that Phillips values press coverage a lot in his defense. Long is a sticky defender who jams receivers at the line. He stays right in the hip pocket of whoever he is covering and does not let up. He flips his hips well and is a great athlete. Long was seventh among corners in the 40-yard dash (4.45 seconds), fifth in bench press (15 reps), fifth in the vertical jump (39.5 inches).

Where he really separated himself was the 3-cone and short shuttle. Long was first among corners in both drills (6.45 seconds, 3.97 seconds respectively). Long doesn’t have much experience in zone or off-coverage and that is why he isn’t more highly regarded. However, Long’s football IQ and playing behind Talib and Peters means he can develop those skills and wreak havoc on the NFL.

Overall grade

Long is one of if not the best press-man corners in the 2019 draft class. Although he still has a lot to learn, he has time to do that behind a talented group of corners already. Long possesses all the physical and mental skills needed for a cornerback to develop into a star in the NFL. Long did struggle with bigger receivers at times, but largely the NFC West deploys smaller receivers so it shouldn’t be a big problem.

He excels in press coverage and is great at knocking receivers off their routes. College quarterbacks respected and feared him at Michigan and I expect the same in the NFL. The Rams got an extremely talented corner with the 79th overall pick. This makes up for missing out on some other talented defensive backs as a result of the trade down to select Rapp. The selection of Long deserves to be an A+ because of his potential and he value of his position and draft spot. Long could very well end up being one of the biggest draft steals of 2019.

Sources: University of Michigan, Pro Football Focus

Follow Josh Kollack on Twitter @rn_kylo and stay up-to-date on all the latest news and updates on the Los Angeles Rams by following @TalkRams.

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