The St. Louis Rams have one of the most talent-laden young defenses in the league even if the stats don't quite bear that fact out yet.
From last year's first-round pick Aaron Donald, to Robert Quinn, to Alec Ogletree, the previously unheralded EJ Gaines, not to mention the recently added Nick Fairley, what was already a stout unit last season should be even stronger going forward as NFL neophytes develop further and new pieces more fully integrate into the St. Louis defensive system.
Luckily for the Rams - and unfortunately for the rest of the NFL - there's the 2015 NFL Draft still to come and yet another chance for St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead to add more cheap, young talent to the group.
While it's expected that the Rams first few selections will likely go toward upgrading the offensive line and skill positions on offense, there's almost no doubt that at least a couple of picks will go toward additional developmental prospects for the defense.
As such, the Rams have reportedly kept their eyes squarely on a small-school cornerback throughout the pre-draft process who recently took part in the Samford Pro Day named Travis Lee.
"Also taking part in the workout was Miles cornerback Travis Lee, who stood on his times from an earlier workout. The St Louis Rams, who've been hot on Lee's trail, again commented on how much they like the cornerback after watching him today," reports Tony Pauline of Draft Insider.
Lee may hail from tiny Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, but he's big on confidence, according to a report from Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com who watched Lee participate in the College Gridiron Showcase in January.
"The most talkative player on the practice field was Miles College CB Travis Lee, who also stood out for his play on the field," writes Brugler. "Although his reaction quickness needs work, he showed quick movements and natural athleticism needed to survive at the position at the next level. Lee is very lean at just 172 pounds, but he has adequate height (5-11) and above average arm length (32-inches) for a cornerback."
Lee, speaking to New Era Scouting in December, said that he enjoys playing a physical game and using his knowledge and understanding of the opponent to bait the quarterback into mistakes.
"I like to use the bait word. I like to bait the quarterback. I like to play possum with them," Lee said. "I like to make them think that I'm playing a different coverage, to disguise my coverage. They know that I'm more of a physical corner. I'd rather be physical. I'd rather get my hands on a receiver and disrupt his timing with his quarterback. I'll walk down sometimes in cover three making it seem like I'm in man or I'm up in press and I'll bail just trying to mess with the quarterback. I like to think of it like Tom and Jerry. You can never catch the mouse, but you always know where the mouse is. I like to use my knowledge to bait the quarterback."
With Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after next season the Rams would do well to start thinking ahead. Neither player has turned into a shutdown corner and Johnson has struggled to stay healthy at times, so big decisions loom for Fisher and Snead in the not-too-distant future.
The Rams have been known to take chances on cornerbacks - Gaines was overlooked during the draft process because of his lack of ideal height and Jenkins was given an opportunity despite his plethora of off-the-field issues - and the NFL is riddled with small-school cornerbacks who made the leap to the pro ranks.
Perhaps Lee can become the Rams next diminutive, small-school cornerback success story.