David Long was one of the best man coverage corners in the draft, but he slipped all the way down to the 79th overall pick due to concerns about his height and arm length. Long is an LA native and he will return to his home city after playing for the University of Michigan. At the NFL Combine, Long put on a show. He ran the fourth-fastest three-cone time in the past 15 years and displayed some of the smoothest hips in the position drills. You can definitely see his ability to change direction and mirror receivers on film! Expectations for Long should be held to a minimum for his rookie season, but if the Los Angeles Rams have to battle through an injury-plagued secondary for the second consecutive year, he will see plenty of action.
While at Michigan, he only played two seasons after redshirting his freshman year. He tallied 37 tackles, three interceptions, 0.5 sacks, and 12 passes defended in the two seasons combined. He played a lot of snaps in press which is quite unusual for college corners. That will definitely help him in his transition to the next level.
He primarily followed the opponents’ best receiver in 2018 and only allowed nine catches. If you were wondering why his stats weren’t impressive, that’s why: he was barely targeted. In 2017, he returned an interception 80 yards to change what looked like a Maryland scoring opportunity into a Michigan scoring opportunity.
Clearly, with Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib on the roster, Long will not be a day-one starter. According to Ourlads.com, he is right behind Peters. Troy Hill is slotted in the back-up spot to Talib. There will be a battle between them to see who gets more playing time. If Troy Hill plays like he did against the Falcons in the 2017 playoffs, then Long will have to kick it in another gear. If Hill plays like he did all last season, Long could see field first.
Long could see some time in the slot too, but with Nickell Robey-Coleman already playing a limited number of snaps compared to Peters and Talib, we shouldn’t expect to see him playing there.
Three Plays on Film
"Ability to create one of those cool synchronized movement videos" is an underrated trait for corners. Michigan's David Long has it. pic.twitter.com/ViA74MrJ1r
— Steven Ruiz (@theStevenRuiz) April 17, 2019
Talk about having the ability to mirror a receiver! In this play, Long happened to be with his receiver step-for-step! Not only does Long have a very good ability to change direction, but he has great route recognition. When a receiver makes his break, Long makes his break.
Michigan CB David Long has legit route recognition and is a nonstop pain to WRs. Fiesty. I like it.
You don’t see many DBs undercut these type of routes, especially when the WR stems that far inside. Really good rep here pic.twitter.com/RFCnjAay67
— KP ? (@KP_Show) April 15, 2019
Here, Long again shows his ability to mirror a receiver, but one thing I haven’t mentioned yet was his ball skills. Even with his shorter arms, he is able to find the football and dislodge it to prevent a catch. When you’re covering a receiver like a blanket, you don’t need long arms!
David Long picks off Maryland's Ryan Brand and returns the ball 80 yards. Michigan will take over on offense. pic.twitter.com/a2qpWp7xza
— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) November 11, 2017
It might just be me, or the fact that he’s wearing number 22, but Long looks a little like Marcus Peters on this interception return. He has the body control to make the catch and the ability to flip the field. The Rams are known for taking the ball away, and Long is just another tool in the toolbox.
Will being undersized be a problem?
It has been mentioned previously in this article, but I don’t want to brush over it like it’s nothing: David Long struggles against bigger receivers. Long will get pushed around at the line of scrimmage and he will lose out on jump balls against the DK Metcalf’s and Alshon Jeffery’s of the NFL. If he finds himself lined up against these types of receivers, I don’t like his odds.
2019 Outlook and Role
Long will be a backup to Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib for obvious reasons, and he will battle with Troy Hill to see depth reps. Long will probably see some time on special teams as well. As far as the future goes, Long could be a starter for the Los Angeles Rams next year since Peters and Talib both have expiring contracts. Long’s play in 2019 can determine if the Rams would be comfortable to let Peters, Talib or even both go.
Chances of Making the Final Roster
Long will 100% be on the starting roster come week one. There was a reason why he was the 79th overall pick: he’s very good. The bigger question is whether he will crack the starting lineup due to an injury this year or be the full-time starter next season. I guarantee you that he would say that he would be ready whenever that time comes.