As the Los Angeles Rams aim to figure out who stays or goes with the 2023 free agency cycle set to begin in seven weeks, they do have a young talent to get excited about for the future — who was named an “early breakout candidate” for 2023.
Pro Football Focus unveiled its lists of potential breakout candidates on each team for 2023 on Tuesday, January 24. And the Rams’ selection? Their $4.1 million rookie cornerback Cobie Durant.
“It was a rough season for the Rams, with injuries taking out almost every player of consequence, but rookie fourth-rounder Cobie Durant flashed some potential in limited snaps,” wrote PFF’s Sam Monson. “Durant had three interceptions and two pass breakups from 25 targets, allowing a 76.3 passer rating into his coverage.”
It’s the first stat Monson mentions that got the 2022 rookie to lead the Rams in that category. And that includes the two he snatched on Christmas Day versus the Denver Broncos.
Durant & Rams Still Facing Plenty of Free Agent Questions, Especially in DB Room
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Durant could be in a situation where he ends up establishing himself as the leader of the Rams secondary — particularly the cornerbacks. The Rams still face plenty of questions and uncertainty for 2023 once free agency begins.
For starters, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey had one anonymous AFC executive telling ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler Tuesday that he sees the Rams possibly exploring dealing away their Super Bowl winning cornerback. Meanwhile, slot cornerback Troy Hill is an unrestricted free agent for 2023 as the Rams took on the remainder of his two-year, $9 million deal he signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2021. Hill will be 34 in 2023.
In the safety room, the Rams’ third-leading tackler on defense Taylor Rapp and fifth-leading tackler Nick Scott are unrestricted free agents. Safety could become a free agent or draft priority for the Rams for depth purposes.
But, Jordan Fuller is expected to return from injury for the ’23 season. And Durant’s emergence has won over members of the Rams — notably defensive coordinator Raheem Morris back on December 29.
“He really bought into that system, really got into that role and owned it and now he’s out there and he’s just kind of been able to be flexible and move and move like a vet. He’s grown every single week and learning from his guys and he’s having fun with (DB) Jalen (Ramsey), and I think Jalen’s having fun with him. Getting him to play around a little bit with some of his lineups, some of the things that he’s doing. It’s been fun,” Morris told the L.A. media.
Ex-Rams Assistant a Rising Contender for 1 Head Coaching Opening
On the coaching end, could Sean McVay produce his second former defensive assistant who went on to become a head coach?
Per NFL Network insider Tom Peliserro on Tuesday, Ejiro Evero will conduct a second interview with the Houston Texans.
“Evero impressed in an in-person interview last week, and now getting a longer look. He has interviewed for all five vacancies,” Pelissero tweeted. The insider also reported that the Indianapolis Colts are bringing Evero in for a second interview.
If Evero gets hired during this head coaching cycle, he’ll join Brandon Staley as former McVay assistants on the defensive side who became head coaches. Evero turned in a top 10 defensive unit for the Broncos this past season despite going 5-12.