Rams bring back Troy Hill, draft four DBs to replenish secondary – NFL Nation

In an offseason of upheaval in the Los Angeles Rams’ secondary, cornerback Jalen Ramsey remains the constant. The group’s best player, sure, but also the team’s most vocal and enthusiastic recruiter.

Which is why it was no surprise to see Ramsey take to Twitter during the NFL draft encouraging Rams fans to “blow up” the mentions of then free-agent safety Tyrann Mathieu. Alas, Ramsey’s pursuit of Mathieu didn’t go far, as he signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Absent that one big move, the Rams weren’t shy about making plenty of other additions to a secondary that lost cornerback Darious Williams to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.

Headlining the list was a trade that made Ramsey quite happy, as the Rams sent a 2023 fifth-round selection to the Cleveland Browns to re-acquire cornerback Troy Hill. Yes, the same Hill who played for the Rams from 2016-20 before signing a two-year, $9 million deal with Cleveland last offseason is back in the fold after the Rams struggled to replace him last season.

Armed with seven picks on Day 3 of the draft, the Rams spent four of those choices on defensive backs, adding South Carolina State cornerback Decobie Durant in the fourth round, UCLA safety Quentin Lake (sixth round), Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick (sixth round) and Kansas State safety Russ Yeast (seventh round).

Prior to playing for the Browns last season, Troy Hill spent five seasons with the Rams, including a 2020 campaign in which he scored three defensive touchdowns. Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

“DB was definitely something we were going to strategically target,” Rams general manager Les Snead said. “There was a moment where players that we liked were still on the board and let’s double down, triple down.”

If nothing else, Hill’s return gives the Rams needed stability and versatility to complement Ramsey as the Rams sort through other options that include the aforementioned rookies and the likes of David Long Jr., Robert Rochell, Grant Haley and Tyler Hall.

Because Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris likes to use Ramsey all over the defense, Hill’s ability to do a little of everything should also come in handy.

“He’s a guy that played really good football for us,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I think just the overall production, the position flexibility, the ability to play that nickel, the star position and be able to play outside and, as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder. … Being able to get him back, he was excited and I know the players are excited to get him back here with us as well.”

Hill enjoyed a breakout season with the Rams in 2020 in which he posted three interceptions, 10 passes defended and scored a league-high three defensive touchdowns. In 12 games with the Browns, Hill had no interceptions and just one pass defended.

While Hill said he enjoyed the people he met in Cleveland, he said he learned “the grass is never as green on the other side” in his year away from the Rams.

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“Even when I was in Cleveland, I always found myself trying to compare things to how it was done over here in L.A.,” Hill said. “I don’t know if it was me more so just trying to compare as far as this is what a winning program [does], or if I was just missing everything that was happening over here.”

As for the rookies, immediate playing time will likely have to come in the form of special teams, but each brings something different to the table the Rams could tap into if needed.

Regardless of how it shakes out in the near term, Snead believes that making the secondary the first priority in this draft will pay off over the long haul.

“I often say in some draft classes where it’s very similar to a mutual fund where OK you are going to bring in a lot of players with different skill sets, genres, and you put them in the room and it just becomes a very competitive and obviously deeper room,” Snead said.