The Los Angeles Rams have wrapped up OTAs and now head into mandatory minicamp. The offseason is trudging along and before you know it we’ll be at Week 1 of the 2021 season. Every season there are players that need to prove themselves in order to keep their role on the team. One of those players last season might have been Nsimba Webster who failed to do so. With that said, let’s take a look at some players who are on the hot seat heading into the 2021 season.
CB David Long
There’s arguably not a single player more on the hot seat than David Long as we head into 2021. Long was a 2019 3rd round pick and has yet to live up to his draft status. With the departure of Nickell Robey-Coleman, it was thought that Long could fit into a third cornerback or nickel role. Instead, Darious Williams impressed during camp. Williams and Ramsey paired on the outside and it was the versatile Troy Hill who played an inside/outside role.
This offseason, the Los Angeles Rams lost Troy Hill in free agency to the Browns. Heading into year three, it’s time for David Long to step up or it’s time for the Rams to move on.
Long has played more than 10 snaps on defense just six times in two years. Contrarily, he also had seven games last season in which he played five or less. Among Rams defensive backs last season, Long allowed the most yards per completion with 13.8 and his 11.5 yards per target allowed were also the most. Long allowed a completion percentage of 83.3% which was the worst among the Rams cornerbacks while allowing a quarterback rating of 154.2.
While the sample size is small on only six targets, those still are not numbers that you want to see. With the lack of depth that the Rams have at the cornerback position, it’s time for Long to step up if he has any future in Los Angeles.
EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Ever since he was drafted, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has been talked up by fans because of his potential. Unfortunately, he has yet to live up to that potential. Injuries hampered the early part of his career, but in two years, he has 2.5 sacks. When Aaron Donald creates as many opportunities as he does, that number should be higher.
The Los Angeles Rams lack depth and a starter for that matter, on the opposite side of Leonard Floyd. The opportunity is there for Okoronkwo to step up and become a staple on the defense. This issue is, he hasn’t shown that he has the ability to become that in the past.
The time is now or never for Okoronkwo. His contract expires at the end of the season and unless he shows some promise heading into 2022, the Rams will have no issues letting him walk.
LB Micah Kiser
Micah Kiser may not necessarily be on the hot seat, but he needs to show a lot this season if the Los Angeles Rams are going to re-sign him. Kiser has been hampered by injuries and inconsistent play. After essentially red-shirting as a rookie, Kiser got hurt in training camp during his sophomore year. That injury put him out for the season. Last year, Kiser showed flashes, but again, it was injuries that sidelined him for a handful of games.
Kiser started nine games last season and recorded double-digit tackles in three of them. Despite playing just nine games, he still ended up fourth on the team in tackles.
The issue is, the Rams have a lot of good, young linebackers. They drafted Ernest Jones, the team likes Christian Rozeboom, and that doesn’t mention players like Troy Reeder and Kenny Young. Jones has potential to be the leader of the defense, but Kiser could be the guy that plays next to him. He just needs to show consistency.
Kiser was taken advantage of in coverage several times last year and had a missed tackle rate of 10% or more in three games (25% or more in two). He needs to build consistency on a week-to-week basis if he’s going to have a long-term role on defense.