The Los Angeles Rams must fill a significant hole in their secondary after free safety John Johnson departed in free agency, leaving for the Cleveland Browns on a three-year deal.
Johnson established himself as one of the best safeties in the league during his time with the Rams, who drafted him in the third round in 2017. While the recognition he has deserved in terms of Pro Bowl nods has not been forthcoming, the Rams will undoubtedly have a hard time replacing a safety who allowed the second-fewest yards per target in the NFL among safeties last season, per Pro Football Reference.
Giving up only 4.4 yards per target in 2020, it will be difficult for the Rams to find a rookie safety who can be as stingy against the pass as Johnson was, while his playmaking ability will also be tough to replicate. He had 11 pass deflections in each of his first two seasons and had eight in 2020 after an injury-shortened 2019.
Rams are in luck with deep safety class
Yet, having found him on day two four years ago, the Rams can afford to be confident in their own ability to identify difference-making safeties in a draft where they do not have a first-round pick. And this is a class not short on safeties who have flashed the potential to suggest they will be successful in making the jump to the highest level.
Here we look at three such safeties who deserve to be on the Rams’ draft board as potential successors to one of the most underrated contributors on what was the NFL’s best defense by several measures last season.