The Los Angeles Rams rookies have reported to camp and before you know it, they will be suiting up in horns and getting ready for their first NFL action. Unlike rookies of the past NFL, rookies in today’s game are expected to contribute right away. Here’s what Rams fans can expect from their rookies from the 2019 class. ‘
Round 2, Pick 61 – S Taylor Rapp
The Rams were drafting more for the future with this pick. While they did take Rapp in the second round, like they’re top pick last year Joe Noteboom, expectations should be tampered for Rapp. The Rams signed Eric Weddle in free agency and he will get most of the work next to John Johnson.
That’s not to say Rapp won’t play, but most of his work will likely come on special teams and on specific packages on defense when Weddle may need a breather. The Rams got a solid player in Rapp, and letting him learn behind a player like Weddle may not be a bad thing.
* Special teams contributor and rotational player on defense.
Round 3, Pick 70 – RB Darrell Henderson
Henderson may be the rookie that contributes the most for the Rams in year one. Teams don’t just draft running backs in the third round to sit on the bench and wait for the starter to go down with injury. While it is true that the Rams may be looking to take some of the workload off of Gurley, Sean McVay clearly has a plan for Henderson.
It’s fair to expect a solid role for Henderson much like Christ Thompson in Washington, James White in New England, Tevin Coleman, and a lesser version of Alvin Kamara. Gurley has been the Rams’ do everything running back over the past two years. With Gurley taking on a lighter load, I could easily see 60 carries and 30 receptions in year one for Henderson if not more.
* Rotational player on offense in the running game with a specific role as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
Round 3, Pick 79 – CB David Long
As is the case with Rapp, there are just better players in front of Long. With Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, it is highly unlikely that Long will start. However, that does not mean that he won’t have a role. The Rams lost LaMarcus Joyner in the offseason who could fill in at cornerback if needed and they did not bring back Sam Shields.
Secondary depth was a need and that is what David Long will be initially. While the fans may not trust him, the Rams certainly trust Troy Hill. However, outside of that, the secondary is thin. With Kevin Peterson and Dominique Hatfield as the only real options, this pick was needed whether or not you agree with the player selected.
Long won’t start, but he could have a role on special teams and will certainly play in a rotational role and fill in when injuries occur.
* Depth corner
Round 3, Pick 97 – T Bobby Evans
With the loss of Rodger Saffold and the eventual retirement of Andrew Whitworth, it doesn’t hurt to bring in guys that can serve as depth and develop. That’s what the Rams have here in Evans. They have a guy that won’t start right away, but will be able to learn behind Whitworth and get coached by Aaron Kromer and be ready for year two, much like Noteboom and Allen last year.
* Developmental and depth offensive lineman
Round 4, Pick 134 – NT Greg Gaines
The transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is never easy and it takes time. Even in today’s NFL, it takes different personnel as well as some coaching adjustments in the meantime to make it work. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has made the transition seamless for the Rams and now in year three they are finally moving to a more traditional 3-4 it seems.
The Rams have lacked the space-eating nose tackle that most 3-4 defenses have and because of that, the run defense has struggled. That is no longer the case with Gaines. Gaines may be the only rookie for the Rams to start from day one.
* Day one starter
Round 5, Pick 169 – T David Edwards
This was a good value pick for the Rams. Edwards arguably could have been taken on day two, but he goes in the fifth round and like Evans, he gives the Rams depth on the offensive line, something they haven’t had a lot of in the past. He won’t have the pressure to start right away and can take time to develop.
Like Evans, Edwards may or may not be the left tackle of the future for the Rams, but he gives the team much needed depth up front.
* Developmental and depth offensive lineman
Round 7, Pick 243 – S Nick Scott
It’s highly unlikely that Scott plays any role on defense this season, but he will have a chance to be a special teams stud. The Rams released Blake Countess, who played 75 percent of snaps on special teams last season, which opens up a spot for Scott. Scott was a special teams captain at Penn State and he’ll join one of the best groups in the NFL.
* Special teams ace
Round 7, Pick 251 – LB Dakota Allen
The Rams are very thin at inside linebacker, but I would find it very hard pressed if Allen were to start inside for the Rams as a rookie. Most likely he finds a role on special teams. If he does have a good camp, maybe he finds a role as a rotational player on defense given the lack of experience next to Cory Littleton, but even that seems far-fetched.
* Special teams player with potential for defensive role
Notable UDFA – TE Keenan Brown
The Rams are thin at the tight end position and don’t have a true No. 3 after Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. Brown has the athleticism and after the catch ability where he could find a role in Sean McVay’s offense. It’s hard to expect that from an undrafted free agent, but I think it’s at least fair to expect him to make the final roster.
* Final 46-man roster candidate with potential to find role in offense.
Notable UDFA – DL Boogie Roberts
If it’s one position the Rams do have depth at, it’s the defensive line so this will be an uphill battle for Roberts. However, his 80.4 Pass Rush grade tied for 19th for all interior defensive lineman last season via PFF and his 42 pressures tied for eighth. You can never have too many pass rushers, and that’s what Roberts does. If he has a good camp, he should be able to find time as a rotational player.
* Rotational pass rusher on defensive line
Notable UDFA – WR Alex Bachman
Mike Thomas has had his opportunity with the Rams and it’s time to move on. The team has brought in a handful of wide receivers to compete in camp and one that will catch eyes and the hearts of fans in Bachman. The local product is small, but when it comes to depth receivers it’s what they can do on special teams that helps them stand out. Bachman has experience as a returner but also brings a lot as a receiver as he averaged 14.6 yards per reception and quarterbacks had a 117.6 passer rating when he was targeted.
* Depth receiver and special teams contributor