Should the Rams sign Justin Simmons?

The Los Angeles Rams are still rebuilding their secondary and loaded up on adding veterans, signing Tre’Davious White, Darious Williams, and Kam Curl in free agency, after relying on youth the last two seasons.

The team has made several moves at safety, signing the aforementioned Curl and spending a third-round pick on Kamren Kinchens out of Miami. Despite these moves, I don’t think they should stop adding to the secondary and there is a prime candidate still available in free agency: safety Justin Simmons.

Simmons would immediately boost their secondary and truly let the Rams be creative with the pieces they have in their secondary. He would also add a proven deep safety, something the Rams need in their secondary.

Last summer, I spent time writing up scouting reports for players across the NFL for a job. Coincidentally, one of the players I wrote up happened to be the new Rams’ addition Kam Curl. I won’t write out the full scouting report, so a tl;dr looks like this:

“Overall, Kam Curl is a very good box safety. In run support, has the build, demeanor, and athleticism to be an integral part of a team’s run defense. In coverage, Curl has solid awareness in zone and can handle curl-flat responsibilities but can be targeted by bigger targets and isolated in man coverage. He will need to be on a defense that has other players that can handle slot and deeper range responsibilities that will allow him to play closer to the LOS as a dime backer or big nickel.” 

Kam Curl is at his best when he can play closer to the line of scrimmage as an overhang defender and box safety. He’s not at his best playing split-field or single-high deep, though that has been the role that many have lined him up for. Curl *can* drop deep on occasion, but again, it’s not his ideal role.  

Think of Curl as a better version of Taylor Rapp. When Rapp was at his best on the Rams, he was their drop safety, consistently coming downhill and playing closer to the box. The Rams could play off of Rapp using players like Jordan Fuller, John Johnson III, and Nick Scott deep. 

The Rams live in two-high shells, something that isn’t going to change under Chris Shula. With Curl not being an *ideal* pick to play the deep safety spot next to Kinchens, that spot currently goes to one of Russ Yeast or Jason Taylor II…neither of whom are as good as Simmons is. 

If the Rams truly do want to be multiple & unpredictable, adding Simmons lets them move Curl into a role he’s best suited for, as well as takes some of the pressure off of Kinchens as he adjusts to a new defense. Simmons’ ability to play deep, in the slot, or fill in the box adds another layer of unpredictability to their secondary. 

People have assumed Simmons was cut because he “fell off” in play as he got older, but this is simply not true. Simmons was a second-team All-Pro this year and closed the year as one of the best safeties in the game. Much like the rest of the Broncos’ defense, Simmons fell victim to a confused coaching staff, but his return to quality play coincided with the defensive turnaround Denver achieved after the mid-season point.  

Simmons also has previous familiarity with coaches on the Rams’ roster. New safeties coach, Chris Beake, spent nine years with the Broncos with Simmons and knows just how good he can be. Beake’s one year as the defensive passing game coordinator coincided with Justin Simmons making an All-Pro appearance. 

Also, the Rams’ new ILBs coach, Greg Williams, was the defensive backs coach in Denver in 2018, the year that Simmons broke into the starting lineup with the Broncos. 

Simmons already has familiarity with the scheme as well. The Rams scheme is extremely similar to the ones that Vic Fangio and Ejiro Evero ran in Denver over the last few seasons. This scheme allowed Simmons to flourish. It’s not a coincidence that Simmons made his first All-Pro the same year that Fangio was hired. 

In my opinion, there’s no real downside to making a move like this. Simmons adds such a veteran presence to their secondary and allows them to truly get creative in the secondary. To fully maximize their current roster, signing Justin Simmons would be a savvy move that would benefit the Rams, now and in the future, as he can pass on his experience to younger players on the Rams’ roster. The Rams’ roster is already full at 90 players after their rookie haul, but signing a player like Simmons is just too good of an opportunity versus having a 7th or 8th tight end, for example. 

If the Rams are serious about being aggressive while building around Matthew Stafford, adding Simmons to their secondary would be a key move to taking that next step defensively. 

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