The Rams have locked up free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe for the long term, giving St. Louis a much-needed playmaker. The Rams are starved for playmakers and difference-makers on both sides of the ball. With a penchant for getting his hands on the football and his range as a centerfielder-type of safety, Atogwe is certainly a playmaker. Although he had only two picks last season, Atogwe had five interceptions in 2008 and eight in 2007. St. Louis is young and unproven at cornerback , so Atogwe as a last layer of defense will help Steve Spagnuolo sleep better at night.
Atogwe, however, is a one-dimensional player who doesn’t excel out of his element, which is deep patrol. He is not much of a presence against the run, isn’t particularly adept at coming up to the line of scrimmage and playing man coverage against a quick slot receiver and is not a punishing, intimidating hitter who sets the tone for his team. Also, even with Atogwe, the Rams tied the Raiders with a league-low eight interceptions in 2009. He is easy to find and account for because of his lack of versatility. Atogwe’s skills vary tremendously from projected starting SS James Butler, who is a true in-the-box player with limited coverage skills.
Versatile do-it-all safeties are all the rage in the NFL, and that’s why Atogwe was not more coveted on the open market. Atogwe also must prove that he is over his late-season shoulder injury, but St. Louis surely has a better feel for his recovery than any of the other 31 franchises.
I am not bashing this signing. As noted, the Rams need playmakers. But don’t expect Atogwe to be a huge difference-maker.