Why trading for Troy Hill was the Rams’ most underrated offseason move

Even before the end of the 2021 season, the cornerback was shaping up to be a major offseason need for the Los Angeles Rams.

Darious Williams fell short of expectations in his second full season as a starter. As the year progressed, it became increasingly clear that the team needed to allow Williams to test the waters of free agency – and he ended up signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Rams’ main goal in free agency was to retain talent on the offensive line – they re-signed Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen in the early days. When LA couldn’t keep Von Miller, they turned their attention to signing wide receiver Allen Robinson. While the Rams could have played for corner reinforcements for the right price, that wasn’t in the cards for 2022.

Williams’ departure meant that David Long, Jr. would be cemented as a starter — either on the outside or in the corner of the slot. Robert Rochell would also play a bigger role in his second season after missing much of his rookie year due to various injuries. While this young duo showed their talent at times last season, they would still be the biggest question marks on a star-studded defensive line.

Heading into the draft, the Rams appeared to have a hole in the corner, though in hindsight those worries were short-lived.

After drafting an offensive lineman who should compete for a spot in the starting lineup on day one, LA selected corner Decobie Durant in the fourth round. Moments later, the Rams doubled down on the same position and made their most underrated acquisition of the offseason: trading with the Cleveland Browns for veteran Troy Hill. Two rounds later, they added a capable but unheralded piece of Georgia’s historic defense in Derion Kendrick.

Half of the team’s eight draft selections in 2022 will play in the defensive secondary.

Overnight, the cornerback room has gone from a potential Achilles heel to a strong position for Los Angeles, and Hill brings a reliable presence to a relatively young group of defensive backs.

What Hill brings to the table

Although not normally mentioned as an important part of the game from a corner – and is usually more important for inside corners than borderline ones – Hill is a solid defender from the run.

If opposing attacks are aware that certain players have weaknesses, they will attack that weakness over and over again until they prove they can stop it. Williams struggled with the run at times last season, and that allowed teams like the San Francisco 49ers to get the most out of the Rams defense.

Hill hasn’t been considered a tight corner during his 7-year career, but he’s far from a liability in all facets of his game. That roundness will serve the Rams well when the majority of the room cornerbacks will be filled with young players who still have a lot to prove.

Garland K. Long