Year two will bring with it some raised expectations for last year’s third round selection in cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The St. Louis Rams went corner heavy during the 2012 NFL Draft, and Johnson was their second roll of the dice at the position. His off-field transgressions at the University of Montana made him a bit of a question mark for many teams in last year’s draft, and those concerns came to a head during this offseason.
On March 22, Johnson was stopped in Montana at 2 a.m. for driving without headlights. A drunken driving charge was filed shortly thereafter, but the corner pleaded guilty to reduced charges of reckless driving and refusing a breath test and received a 90-day suspended jail sentence.
Those off-field difficulties were just a small portion of the bigger story that has been the trouble for St. Louis’ 2012 draft class away from the field. If remains to be seen if any further action will be taken as far as Johnson is concerned by the league, but the Rams have to hope the issue is behind them now.
2013 could be an active season for Johnson in year two. The more action he saw, the more productive he proved to be as he had at least one tackle in the final eight games of the season with two interceptions and 29 tackles for a total. That production spread over the course of a full 16-game slate would put him on a level with fellow 2012 rookie Janoris Jenkins who notched four picks in year one.
As far as competition at the position goes, the Rams have Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan ready to start at the corner positions. In today’s pass-happy NFL though, teams need to have three quality corners more often than not to counteract multiple wide receivers with nickel and dime defensive looks. Johnson figures to be the primary nickel corner for this team with plenty of playing time on his plate for the 2013 season.
It’s hard to know exactly what kind of a role he will play this season, but if the closing stretch to 2012 was any indication, Johnson should have a solid campaign lined up for 2013. Look for the Rams to continue improving defensively as the secondary matures and gains even more experience in the year ahead.