With Butler, Rams' secondary emerging

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams' contract agreement with Giants free agent James Butler, confirmed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, came together amid a tough market for strong safeties.

The Rams had already invested in franchise free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Ron Bartell. The softening market presumably made it easier to justify adding Butler. The Rams certainly had a need at the position -- even before they released Corey Chavous.

We can now envision a Rams secondary featuring Bartell, Butler and Atogwe as starters. Butler started 26 games for the Giants over the last two seasons.

Scouts Inc.'s profile on Butler described him as a player with "upside" and one with good on-field communication skills:

He is an interchangeable player who moves downhill quickly off pre-snap reads. He has good size and range, but is still raw in coverage. He is a competitive player with toughness, but does have some space limitations in deep zones. He shows good transitional skills, but does have some tightness in his hip rotation off speed turns. Butler looks to be more natural in short zones than deep zones. Even though he does have some straight-line range in deep zones, he has average quickness and burst when closing. He has above-average anticipation and downfield awareness.

He does have some ball skills and knows how to use his size and long arms to make plays. He shows a good knack for timing up blitzes off zone fires. As a run defender, he is reckless with his body when he attacks downhill. He is a willing insert player who plays with balance and control in run support. He displays the speed to attack alleys while maintaining leverage on the ball carrier. However, he does have a tendency to play out of control at times. Overall, Butler is an intriguing young player who should eventually move to the next level as he continues to develop.