Nickell Robey-Coleman is just one of the multiple new faces we’ll see line up in the Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary this year. The 28-year-old veteran could very well be poised to serve as the Eagles’ slot cornerback.
In order to learn more about Philly’s new defender, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Los Angeles Rams perspective on NRC. Here’s my exchange with Joe McAtee (@3k_), formerly of Turf Show Times.
1 - Can you recap NRC’s time with the Rams?
Man, it just feels ... unfinished.
He came on board in the 2017 makeover along with a ton of other free agents and the coaching staff switch to Sean McVay. While he maybe didn’t have the star power of guys like LT Andrew Whitworth, WR Robert Woods or WR Sammy Watkins, he had a base of support from his days at USC. With Lamarcus Joyner moving from the slot to safety, NRC settled into DC Wade Phillips’ defense immediately and with aplomb.
Of course, he’s going to be best known for the Nickell no-call in the NFC Championship when the refs failed to flag him for pass interference, but it’s a shame because he was deserving of much more praise throughout his time.
I assumed he would be back for 2020 and the team would reassess thereafter, so it was a bit of a shock that the Rams let him go.
2 - How do Rams fans feel about the team not picking up his 2020 option and letting him walk? Right move?
I think it was a combination of a quality player with history and chemistry but also one that wasn’t exactly breaking the bank. The team shelled out major extensions to QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley and WR Brandin Cooks. To have a player like NRC making just more than $5m per year seemed like a bit of a steal. I suppose internally they could be high on some of the potential replacement candidates, but their resumes are pretty blank whereas NRC’s was long and well-established.
3 - What are his strengths?
At this point, awareness. He’s going into Year 8, so you’re going to see him in the right position more often than not. Quickness is a plus as well, but that’s almost always the case for a slot guy. Beyond that, at some point that’s going to slip just enough to be problematic.
Durability is also a plus as well having missed no games due to injury. The game he missed in 2017 was the season-ending contest in which the Rams held out their starters.
4 - What are his weaknesses?
Well, size. But yanno. That’s often what turns a cornerback into a slot cornerback. You don’t want him isolated man up either on the sidelines or deep, because at 5’8” he’s easier to muscle out or get on top of than bigger corners.
I’d also go beyond just noting that specifically to note that it limits his availability. He played between 50-66% of the snaps in all of his three seasons with us mainly because of the vulnerability his size offers. He’s a great guy to have darting in on routs and closing on quick outs and slants, but if a QB is dropping back with time to let routes develop it just puts NRC in a position that he can’t win consistently. It’s not his fault per se. More like having a running back blocking an edge rusher or a linebacker trying to cover a wideout. It’s a systematic disadvantage. So you’re not going to be able to put him out there all three downs every series. Not a huge drawback, but something to account for.
5 - Anything else to know about him off the field?
Only that he’s a really good guy.
When he signed for USC, he promised his mother he’d graduate. Two weeks later, she died from a heart condition at just 44-years old. After signing with the Rams, he re-enrolled at USC to complete a degree in real estate development.
He’s not a lockdown outside corner that’s pushing the top of the market, but I don’t care. I’m gonna miss him.
Well always have that motherf*ckin’ Waffle House frying pan.
Spider graph via Mockdraftable: