When it comes to the NFL, the term “prospect” isn’t necessarily a popular term like in baseball, hockey, or even in the NBA. The NFL doesn’t have a developmental league and upon being drafted, rookies are expected to start right away unlike in baseball or hockey where they may spend a few years in the minor leagues.
However, that doesn’t mean young talent doesn’t matter in the NFL. With rookie contracts being the biggest bargain for any NFL general manager, drafting well and having talented young players may be more important now than ever before. With that said, here are the Los Angeles Rams’ best young prospects that are headed into their third year or less that are most important to the team’s future.
1. WR Cooper Kupp, 3rd Year
Since arriving in Los Angeles, Kupp has not only been a fan favorite, but a favorite of Jared Goff’s as well. Kupp led Rams receivers in receptions as a rookie and was on pace to do so once again before tearing his ACL midway through his second year.
Kupp will never be this team’s number one wide receiver as that will always be Brandin Cooks, however, he might be the most important receiver. In games Kupp played, Goff completed 69.6 percent percent of his passes while throwing for 2,637 yards, 17 touchdowns, six interceptions, and averaging 9.7 yards per attempt.
In game’s without Kupp, Goff completed just 58.5% of his passes for 2,266, 11 touchdown, and eight interceptions. The Rams quarterback averaged 6.76 yards per attempt with a passer rating of 80.6. It’s hard to question the importance of Kupp in the Rams’ offense.
2. S John Johnson, 3rd Year
John Johnson might be one of the best up-and-coming safeties in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson tied for seventh in Interceptions, tied for fourth in tackles among defensive backs and had the fifth-best coverage grade among safeties. In today’s NFL it is important to have a safety that can cover everybody. Johnson is a guy that you can put on a running back like Kamara or a tight end like Rob Gronkowski.
Johnson showed promise as a rookie and continued that development and became very good in his second year. He’s emerged as one of the NFL’s best coverage safeties as he’s displayed great coverage ability while being a sure-fire tackler. Having Eric Weddle will only push him to that next level.
3. TE Gerald Everett, 3rd Year
The 2017 draft was a good one for Les Snead and the Rams. Gerald Everett started that trend. Year three will be a big one for Everett as he hasn’t done more than just show flashes, but there is little question that the talent is there. He needs to show more on a consistent basis which should be his goal for year three.
4. T Joseph Noteboom, 2nd year
Noteboom didn’t get a lot of work as a rookie, but during the preseason he showed what kind of promise he brings. He didn’t allow a single pressure in the preseason which is an impressive feat despite it being the preseason. Andrew Whitworth is most likely in his last year with the Rams, meaning Noteboom is the left tackle of the future. He’ll get work at guard this season with the departure of Rodger Saffold, but he’ll be ready to step in on the blind side when his name is called.
5. RB Darrell Henderson, Rookie
We haven’t seen anything from Henderson outside of the short video coming from Rams OTA’s. However, not only is he important to the Rams’ future, he may be one of their more promising prospects as well. With the concerns surrounding Todd Gurley’s knee, Henderson will supplement and take a load off of Gurley right away. And if the injury is worse than all fans hope, Henderson may just be the team’s running back of the future.
What the rookie running back out of Memphis brings to the table however is unmatched. His similarities to Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt are parallel and he will bring another dimension to an already creative Sean McVay offense. Henderson was knocked for poor vision in the pre-draft process, but might be the biggest home-run hitter there is. He brings versatility and adds a talented piece to an already talent offense.