Despite boasting the No. 1-ranked defense in the league last season, the Los Angeles Rams invested some early capital in the 2021 NFL Draft to bolster that side of the ball. Among the new additions was that of Central Arkansas cornerback Robert Rochell in the fourth round.
The Rams suffered some notable losses in the secondary during free agency with the departure of safety John Johnson III and cornerback Troy Hill. Fortunately, they did manage to alleviate some of the turnover by bringing back cornerback Darious Williams opposite of Jalen Ramsey.
While the return of Williams provides some continuity, he is still considered a short-term option on a one-year deal. This leaves Rochell in an ideal position to develop his impressive skill set.
The rookie joins a secondary that is led by one of the NFL’s premier shutdown corners in Ramsey. Interestingly enough, he is also the player Rochell models his game after the most.
“He’s a guy that I modeled my game after. He’s a guy that I love watching. He’s a guy who I really look up to in ways of playing cornerback. I just recently changed to the position. He definitely one of the guys I picked up on. Same kind of body style, same type of attitude about football. He’s a guy that I’m ready to get beside of and work and learn from.”
Like Ramsey, Rochell boasts prototypical size and speed for a modern-day corner. He put his physical tools on display with a stellar performance at his pro day by running a 4.39 40-yard dash and posting a 43-inch vertical.
Like any player coming out of a small school, Rochell admits it was a strenuous process to get to this point.
“It definitely was a long process, I enjoyed it though. I can’t complain about it. Waiting was probably the hardest part, just the pressure of not knowing where you’re going to go with, what’s going to happen. But the Rams are taking a chance on me and I’m thankful for it.”
Rochell is confident that his versatility over the top will make him an ideal fit in the Rams’ defense.
“I see it as an advantage. I’m willing and ready to play any position and be anywhere I’m needed for the team. Definitely a best-fit type of player. Definitely a guy who is willing just ready to get in to get in and play a role and do what I’m told do, you know what I’m saying? So, I’m definitely ready and willing.”
The rookie also discussed whether or not his ability to line up anywhere on the field was a major point of conversation with L.A.
“Definitely, they definitely use a lot of cornerbacks. So, they definitely told me about having versatility and being able to do a lot of different things on the back side of the defense. So yes, definitely.”
Aside from his physical tools, Rochell showed tremendous ball skills after hauling in 10 interceptions in college. It is easy to see where the intrigue was given the Rams’ affinity for bringing in playmakers in the secondary.
L.A. enjoyed plenty of success with their quality rotation in the secondary last year. Since they will be once again relying be relying on young players to step up over the top, it will be interesting if Rochell finds a way to make an immediate impact.