The St. Louis Rams added some impressive playmakers this offseason in both free agency and the 2013 NFL Draft. One of the biggest holes on the roster heading into these two events was the safety position, and one could argue that the team did very little to ease those concerns. There is sure to be a fierce competition for both starting safety jobs during training camp, but just which players are the favorites to earn the positions?
Both starters from a year ago in Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl are no longer with the team, but the Rams have no shortage of camp bodies to vie for those starting positions. Darian Stewart, Quinton Pointer, Rodney McLeod, and Matthew Daniels are all holdovers from last year, but this truly will be an open competition coming into camp.
Perhaps the most intrigue lies with the rookies that the Rams will be working with beginning Friday, May 10 in rookie minicamps. T.J. McDonald was a third round pick for the team which means the expectations for him are likely the highest. He is a player that mirrors what Mikell provided the Rams a year ago with his ability to thrive in the box at 6’2” 219 lbs. His versatility will come in handy for a team lacking much depth in the secondary with some impressive athleticism on his side as well. Two additional names to watch will be Cody Davis and Ray Ray Armstrong who are of the undrafted variety.
What has my interest piqued, however, is just how the Rams will use first round pick Alec Ogletree in relation to the safety spot. He arrived on campus at Georgia as a safety before transitioning to the linebacker position his sophomore season. At 6’2” 242lbs. he would be a massive safety, but he reminds me a lot of another former Bulldog in veteran Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. Although Davis was drafted as a safety and turned into a linebacker at the NFL level, Ogletree still has more than enough versatility to act as an amoeba on defense and drop into coverage when it looks like he is playing down in the box on the run or vice versa. It will be interesting to see how the Rams utilize his elite athletic ability when the 2013 season arrives.
Rookie minicamps could reveal quite a bit about the Rams’ intentions when it comes to the usage of Ogletree and McDonald in regards to the safety spot. After having the league’s 15th ranked pass defense a year ago, the Rams weren’t exactly awful, but they were beaten for some backbreaking completions at crucial junctures. It’s too early to know just who has the upper hand on earning the starting safety spots, but it’s safe to say that the Rams will have a hard-hitting group that is anything but bashful in the upcoming season.