Los Angeles Rams All-Pro cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, while on the “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” podcast on Sunday, shared his widely speculated top three hardest receivers to guard featuring DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones.
One noticeable All-Pro receiver left of the list: Davante Adams.
Adams and Ramsey may not have stood toe-to-toe with each other as many times as others, but in their limited snaps against one another, Adams was arguably favoured.
Green Bay Packers fans have fond memories of the NFC divisional round game against the Rams this past post-season when the green and yellow defeated L.A. 32-18. Ramsey may not have the same feelings towards that game or Adams’ second-quarter touchdown he allowed.
Ramsey talked about his January matchup with Adams on Kevin Hart’s SiriusXM show “Straight from the Hart,” saying how Adams is “at the same level as those other guys like [DeAndre Hopkins], D.K. [Metcalf], Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill.”
The cornerback also mentioned to Hart that no one gave him any issues until that playoff game against the Packers.
“This season? No, nobody gave me no problem. … In the playoffs, I played Davante Adams when we played Green Bay, and we was chirping a little bit before the game. We got a lot of respect for each other, and we wanted the matchup and the people wanted the matchup, like mano a mano, man to man,” said Ramsey.”
So, is Ramsey telling his truth when he says Hopkins, Beckham Jr. and Jones are the hardest receivers to defend in the NFL? Only he can know that answer, but it’s worth investigating if it really makes sense to those on the outside looking in.
Adams versus Ramsey
One fact that could be keeping Adams off Ramsey’s list is that the two superstars have only faced off against each other twice in their respective careers.
Their first meeting was during Week 1 of the 2016 regular season when Ramsey was with his former team — the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even then, Ramsey wasn’t following Adams around on every play.
Ramsey did stop Adams in the second quarter for just a five-yard gain after Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was forced to roll out for a short pass.
The divisional round game between the Packers and the Rams offers a little more insight into how these two work against each other.
After some pre-game chirps between the two, Adams caught an early 10-yard ball against Ramsey for a first down in the opening quarter.
In the second frame, Adams showed his true dominance facing a goal-to-go series. As the Packers were inches away from the goal line on third down, Adams quickly motioned from the boundary to the field side, with Ramsey following, and reeled in the first touchdown of the game.
He didn’t see much of Ramsey in the second half, but most fans knew Adams won that battle.
Hopkins versus Ramsey
The first receiver on Ramsey’s list, Hopkins, sees much more of him during the season as the two are divisional rivals. But while he has to deal with Hopkins more often, Ramsey’s performance was proven to be more fruitful against the Arizona Cardinals receiver compared to his experience with Adams.
In their two matchups in 2020, Hopkins recorded just five receptions, 48 yards and no touchdowns when defended by Ramsey.
Their first matchup this season was in Week 13 when Hopkins caught three balls for 20 yards against the cornerback. In Week 17, they met again and Hopkins’ results were similar: two receptions for 28 yards.
While the yards per catch did improve from 6.7 to 14 for the Cardinals’ top pass-catcher, the numbers don’t add up to an impressive outing against one of the top defenders in the NFL.
OBJ versus Ramsey
Ramsey has not faced OBJ since September 2018 when both players were with their former teams — Ramsey was with the Jaguars and OBJ was still in New York.
It was actually their only meeting of their careers to date but according to Ramsey, he still remembers OBJ’s performance.
The former Giants receiver did play well across the board in the Week 1 contest, catching 11 of his 15 targets for 111 yards. OBJ faced Ramsey 27 times, finishing with five catches and 75 yards.
But some experts say Ramsey won the matchup because much of OBJ’s yardage was due to the offensive schemes. There were a number of plays where teammates would set a pick for OBJ so he could pick up a first down. Approximately 55 of his 75 yards were made possible by Giants offensive players sacrificing themselves to take out Ramsey.
There were also at least 16 plays in which Ramsey played zone coverage and passed him off to the next defensive player.
The remaining plays and yardage saw OBJ gain 20 yards on Ramsey throughout the game when the two were playing head-to-head with no help from teammates.
Jones versus Ramsey
Ramsey’s third receiver on his list, Jones, has also only played the All-Pro cornerback once.
Jones’ Atlanta Falcons hosted Ramsey’s Rams in 2019 for a highly-anticipated Week 7 matchup. Ramsey had been traded from the Jaguars for three draft picks just five days prior.
Ramsey was all over Jones from from start to finish and was especially aggressive against number 11 — one play even shows Ramsey roughing Jones up enough off the line that Jones’ shoulder pads were in disarray following the whistle.
A 39-yard reception was one of the few plays that Jones appeared to have an advantage over Ramsey on as the newly-acquired defender was dominant in his task: following Jones around on every play in the first half and shut him down.
Ramsey would go on to force a fumble against Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, which was one of the defining plays in L.A.’s 37-10 victory over Atlanta.
Is Ramsey’s top three accurate?
So, while Ramsey can talk all about how tough it was to cover Hopkins, OBJ and Jones, the stats are clear that he shouldn’t leave Adams completely out of the loop. There is still more future tape to review when Ramsey sees Adams and the Packers again on November 28 and maybe then can we get a true answer if the Rams don’t shy away from a Cover 1 defense.
With all the uncertainty, there is one thing for certain: Adams had one more touchdown against Ramsey than anyone else on his list in the past year.