The Los Angeles Rams head into a big 2019. Coming off of a Super Bowl appearance, expectations will once again be high. However, with losses of players like Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan, and others, that return may not be easy. The Rams will need a handful of players to step up. Let’s take a look the breakout candidates for the Rams headed into 2019.
TE Gerald Everett
There is little question that Gerald Everett is due for a breakout year. The tight end now heads into his third year. Everett hasn’t eclipsed 50 yards in a game since the second game of his career and hasn’t surpassed more than 350 yards receiving in a single season.
In 2016 tight end Lance Kendricks recorded 50 receptions and 499 yards and in 2015 it was Jared Cook who led the Rams tight ends with 481 yards. Despite his athletic ability and potential, the Rams simply haven’t gotten that production from Everett.
However, there is reason for hope. After seeing four targets in a game just once in the first eight weeks of the season, Everett saw four or more targets in five games in Weeks 9-17.
He also went from averaging 12 yards per game to almost 28 in that same time span. If you take Everett’s stats from the final eight weeks of the season and project them over 16 games, the Rams tight end would have 444 yards and 46 receptions. While that’s not “breaking out”, it would be a huge improvement over what fans have seen so far and what we should see at the bare minimum going forward.
OLB Dante Fowler Jr.
The Rams traded for Fowler halfway through the 2018 season. While the former No. 3 overall pick may not have had an immediate impact, he posted his best career pass rushing grade according to Pro Football Focus and his 34 quarterback hurries (20 in Los Angeles) marked a career-high.
A full offseason in Wade Phillips’ system will only benefit Fowler. The Rams did pay him a lot of money, but they didn’t give him a long-term deal so they aren’t tied to Fowler by any means. Outside of Aaron Donald’s 20.5 sacks last season (excluding playoffs), the Rams’s next closes was Nndamukong Suh was the next closest at 4.5. Corey Littleton led Rams linebackers with four sacks and Samson Ebukam’s three sacks led the team’s edge rushers.
In just 11 games with the Rams last season, Fowler had 3.5 sacks in 11 games with the Rams last season (including playoffs). Projecting that over 16 games would give Fowler five sacks. While that would be seen as a disappointment to Rams fans, it still bests any pass rusher that the Rams had in 2018. It’s hard not to see Fowler hitting that mark and most likely besting it.
DE John Franklin-Meyers
Last season the Rams drafted a kid from Stephen F. Austin that not many had heard of – John Franklin-Myers. Franklin-Myers made his presence felt right away and will be looking to take that next step in 2019.
In Weeks 8-15 and then the playoffs, Franklin-Meyers had the sixth-highest pass-rushing productivity in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. In that same time frame, he recorded the second-highest rushing grade on the team according to Pro Football Focus and had just one fewer sack than Suh despite playing just 19% of his number snaps.
Franklin-Myers was a rotational piece as a rookie, but after a strip-sack of Brady in the Super Bowl and being one of the team’s most productive pass rushers, there’s little doubt that he has earned more playing time.
CB Marcus Peters
It seems strange adding Peters to this list, but simply put, he didn’t have a very good debut season with the Rams. Not only is he do to bounce back, but also breakout. He was admittedly hampered by a groin injury in the first half of the season and then once Aqib Talib returned, Peters found his groove.
It was a tale of two halves for Peters as in weeks 1-9 the former Kansas City Chiefs cornerbackrecorded a 39.9 grade in coverage according to Pro Football Focus, with one interception and two pass breakups; compared to a 78.6 coverage grade, the 16th highest, with two interceptions and six pass breakups in the second half of the season and playoffs.
With Peters healthy and entering a contract year, it’s much more likely that the player that the Rams traded for shows up. It may not be #ClampSeason in Los Angeles, but expect a breakout year from Peters.
OG Joseph Noteboom
For the first time since 2010, the Rams will not have Saffold on the offensive line. Those duties will left to second-year player Joseph Noteboom. In the preseason Noteboom didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure.
That continued in the regular season. While he only played 79 snaps as a rookie (10 at right guard), he posted an 88.8 pass-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus and again, didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure.
Noteboom played the most snaps among any offensive lineman without allowing a pressure and his 88.8 pass-blocking grade would have ranked him third among offensive linemen on Pro Football Focus.
The sample size is small from Noteboom, even smaller than Franklin-Myers, however, in that small sample size, he showed what he is capable of.