Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman played like an elite slot corner for LA last season. However, with the additions of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, the re-signing of Robey-Coleman has somehow flown under the radar.
Thriving in the slot
Robey-Coleman, an undersized defensive back by typical NFL metrics, was seemingly built to play in the slot. A quick, wiry defender, he is able to keep up with even the shiftiest of slot receivers. Signed as a free agent to a one-year deal from the Buffalo Bills before the 2017 season, Robey-Coleman was looking to prove himself. He did just that. In 15 games the veteran defended nine passes, intercepted two, and fell on top of a fumble.
However, an underrated aspect of Robey-Coleman’s game is his aggressiveness when coming up to make a tackle. Weighing in at 180 pounds, he is outsized by most opponents. NRC doesn’t care, he routinely flies up and blows up screen/swing passes, which he has very good instincts for identifying. Another testament to his aggression is his ability to rush the passer. NRC has tallied five sacks in as many seasons, very solid numbers for a cornerback.
What lies ahead
So, every time you hear mention of the Rams “lockdown secondary”, think of more than just Peters and Talib. While Robey-Coleman may not be responsible for the deep threats, and he may not be making a lot of acrobatic interceptions on jump balls deep down the field, do not forget his name.
If it were not for the crafty cornerback, the Rams would be painfully exposed underneath, allowing opponents to regularly pick up first downs piece-by-piece. The need for a prominent slot corner is stronger now more than ever, as most top-level teams have a dominant slot receiver. Think of Julian Edelman on the Patriots, Cooper Kupp on the Rams, Nelson Agholor on the Eagles, etc.
So, Rams fans, don’t let Robey-Coleman get lost from the conversation. His dominance from the slot goes a long way in allowing the Rams secondary (and defense) to play at a high level. If the Rams hope to go as far this season as many people around the league expect them to, they will count on Robey-Coleman often.