Meet The Los Angeles Rams UDFA’s: Offense

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The Rams signed a total of 20 undrafted rookie free agents last night during the UDFA frenzy post-draft. I take a dive into the offensive players and what they will bring to camp this year for the Los Angeles Rams.

QB Bryce Perkins, Virginia

Height: 6-2

Weight: 215

40-Time per draftscout.com: 4.52

I love this pickup by the Rams. Bryce Perkins was a two-year starting quarterback for the Virginia Cavaliers and he was highly efficient. A player that could create when nothing seemed available at first glance. Perkins started off at Arizona State and unfortunately suffered a broken neck that stole his 2016 season from him. He transferred to Arizona Western College for 2017 for one year before transferring to Virginia. He showed off the ability to escape a would-be sack, to throw against his body, to throw off-platform in general, to throw the deep ball, the velocity needed to fit the ball into tight windows and more than anything athleticism. Perkins is simply put, a dual-threat quarterback that will make defensive coordinators furious with how often he can make magic when nothing appears there.

Taysom Hill has brought all of these types of QB’s a blessing and a curse. The blessing is, a dual-threat quarterback that never could get out of the bottom of the depth chart and/or off the practice squad now might find themselves as an offensive weapon in sub-package roles. However, the curse, is how almost every dual-threat quarterback now is pigeonholed into that category. Hill just signed a two-year contract with the Saints worth over $20 million. To me, Perkins is younger than Hill was coming out of college, he’s a much better prospect in general. He’s more athletic, he’s a better thrower and I think he’s far more explosive than Hill. So, at first, Perkins could 100 percent have a role in the Rams offense as a sub-package player. That would be great but I think the Rams need to look at Perkins who has the skills to be a potential starting QB someday.

He needs to be developed as a passer in areas such as going through progressions, making more than one-read consistently and staying comfortable in the pocket. However, the last thing you want to do is hinder what Perkins can do as a runner. The broken neck in the past may have had teams scared but we no one thing, it hasn’t scared Perkins the way he plays the game.

QB Josh Love, San Jose State

Height: 6-2

Weight: 215

40-Time per draftscout.com: 4.70

The fact the Rams added Bryce Perkins and Josh Love to the QB room with Jared Goff and John Wolford leaves me absolutely stoked. This is one of the best QB rooms in the league now in my humble opinion. Love was an incredible college quarterback for San Jose State and one of the highlights during his time there came in a game he helped lead San Jose State to a game-winning drive on the road versus Arkansas. That game marked just the first time the school had beaten a power five conference team since 2006. Love started off his collegiate career at San Jose State by redshirting his first year in 2015. He started one game the year after, five games in his redshirt-sophomore season, eight games in his redshirt-junior season and took his game to the next level in his redshirt-senior year. Love won the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award in which he became the first San Jose State player to win the award since the program joined the Mountain West in 2013.

What Love brings to the table for the Rams day one is deep ball ability and poise in the pocket. It’s interesting because the Rams signed two polar opposite quarterbacks in Love and the aforementioned Bryce Perkins. Love isn’t mobile, at all. In fact, San Jose State would bring in a situational option quarterback on plays where they wanted to try scrambling with the quarterback. Love does in fact, have a pocket presence and he displays that throughout every game he plays in. What I’m most impressed about when it comes to Love is his deep ball placement. Accuracy is one thing, but the pinpoint placement he delivers to his receiver is impressive. Love likes throwing the deep sideline pass and he throws it so perfectly and right on the money more often than not. You do know what beats perfect coverage after all? A perfectly placed football. Love to top it off has adequate velocity on his throws and has the confidence to take the shot down the field other quarterbacks are too afraid to take. He did play in an offense that likes to air it out so we will see how he adapts to Sean McVay’s modified vertical west coast offense. I do think oftentimes UDFA quarterbacks lack the deep ball arm strength teams want to see but in this case I think Love and Perkins have plenty of it.

 

RB James Gilbert, Kansas State

Height: 5-8

Weight: 197

40-Time at K-State Pro Day: 4.59

The former Wildcat running back has striking similarities in stature and overall game to that of former Ram running back Benny Cunningham. James Gilbert was actually a transfer from Ball State first before coming to Kansas State. He spent four seasons there after graduating high school early. Gilbert’s career was consistent as Ball State’s starting back until 2017 when he suffered a season-ending injury. He graduated following the 2018 season and transferred to Kansas State to become their starting running back this past year.

Gilbert has a smaller stature as a running back. He is built well for a change-of-pace back role and does a nice job using sneaky play strength that allows him to break tackles. Gilbert displays the balance you love to see in a running back and has the short-area burst to blow right through the hole when needed. The initial explosion is there but the long speed is not and that is why he ran in the 4.6’s at his pro day. Gilbert did struggle at times picking up blitzes quickly and dealing with them efficiently. Far too often was he caught out of position which ultimately led to him being blown up and the quarterback being hit. However, Gilbert does have the desire to pick up blitzes and he shows the potential in pass protection. He just needs to build more consistency. His ball-carrier vision is about average and he does tend to miss an easier path and force himself to do much more than he had to, to get about the same yardage.

Gilbert should make the camp battle between John Kelly and Xavier Jones a fun one at the very least.

RB Xavier Jones, SMU

Height: 5-10

Weight: 208

40-Time per draftscout.com: 4.59

The former three-star recruit out of high school, Xavier Jones immediately played his true freshman year and even started in six games. The following year, Jones had to take a medical redshirt after his season was cut short due to a shoulder injury. The following season he was back and the full-time starting running back for the Mustangs as he went over 1,000 yards on the season. In somewhat of a surprising turn, the SMU coaching staff decided to go with more of an emphasized passing attack and thus cut the former 1,000-yard rusher’s carries down to 69 that year. However, apparently in 2019 they realized that was completely insane and went back to a heavy run-game with Xavier Jones who led the nation in scoring (11.5) and rushing touchdowns with 23. He took on a load of 244 carries that went for 1,276 yards. Aside from his bizarre junior season, Jones was very impressive in college.

Jones runs with great balance and has a decent enough amount of speed to really make something happen in the open field. If nothing is available, Jones does a nice job of carving out room or forcing something to happen. He makes magic quite often as judged from his college film. He has an overall impressive game and seems to be solid enough in pass protection that could even give him a bigger role at the next level. His overall vision is above-average and to be entirely honest, it’s confusing that he wasn’t drafted.

If you had to pick a dark horse to make the roster, Xavier Jones would have to be your dark horse. I think he brings more explosiveness to the table than John Kelly or James Gilbert.

WR Easop Winston Jr., Washington State

Height: 5-11

Weight: 192

40-Time at Virtual Pro Day: 4.42

The former JUCO athlete enrolled at Washington State in 2017 and redshirted his first year. The next season in his redshirt-junior year, Easop Winston Jr., played in every game for Washington State and ended up starting five games at receiver for Gardner Minshew’s offense. The following year after Minshew went to the NFL, Anthony Gordon came in at QB and Winston put up big numbers in his offense. Winston finished that year with 970 yards receiving on 85 receptions that went for 11 touchdowns. He had become a Pac-12 force and teams were lucky to see him already in his redshirt-Senior season.

Winston is a very talented receiver that has the ability to win vertically while going over the top and stacking the defensive back. When in tight coverage, Winston is able to stick with the play and contort his body position to make the awkward catch. His field awareness is very impressive as he always has a knack for getting two feet inbounds even when that wasn’t necessary at the college level. Winston showed teams with his virtual pro day that he has burner-level speed and most importantly the toughness to withstand serious punishment coming over the middle and making the tough catch. He’s a very solid route runner that doesn’t give any information away to what he is about to do to his defender. His reliability can’t be stressed enough and it’s why Minshew and Gordon used him as their go-to-targets in key situations.

With adequate size, speed and strength for the position, Winston should be seen as a serious threat to make this roster. His ability to make plays and fight for every yard as a true chain-mover not only including his ability on special teams will make him a valuable asset that the Rams will have a hard time letting go of.

WR Earnest Edwards, Maine

Height: 5-10

Weight: 175

40-Time at Virtual Pro Day: 4.41

Edwards played all four seasons at Maine and was a dynamic return man as well as a receiver. In 2016, he became the only FCS player to score a rushing, receiving, passing and return touchdown. His first two seasons were his introduction and he was used in a gadget role. However, in 2018, his junior season saw Edwards take off as a receiver while coming down with 14 touchdowns which led the conference on top of 1,597 all-purpose yards. Edwards became more of a receiver in 2019, rounded out his game and ended up with his first 1,000-yard receiving season, 11 touchdowns and even two back two kicks to the house.

Edwards is a very active receiver that comes off at first as being more of a gadget Tavon Austin type of guy until you go and watch the film from his time at Maine. At surprisingly just 5-10 and 175 pounds, Edwards flies all over the field and is not afraid of anyone. He surprisingly will go up and fight for the 50/50 ball. You could see his development and how much improvement he made just from 2018 to 2019. He improved as a route runner which ultimately made him pretty hard to shut down in his conference when he already was most-oftentimes the fastest on the field. Edwards displays the exciting run-after-catch ability the Rams want all of their pass catchers to have. It’s certainly not a shock the Rams wanted to bring Edwards into their WR room.

Could Edwards make the team or is he just a practice squad guy or even a camp guy? I think the answer to this question might surprise you. Edwards could have been a draftable prospect in other classes before and arguably the coronavirus outbreak had a lot to do with him not being drafted as well. He has the speed to burn, the consistent improvement from college, his will to go up and make a play no matter how crazy of a request it is and the fact he has plenty of big-time experience on special teams sure gives him an advantage. Do not be surprised if Edwards, who returned six touchdowns while at Maine is the Rams primary kick returner next year.

WR Brandon Polk, James Madison

Height: 5-9

Weight: 175

40-Time at Virtual Pro Day: 4.28

Brandon Polk has a very interesting story as he was originally at Penn State from 2015-2018. The problem with that, however, Penn State had a ton of talent that overshadowed Polk. It was quite frankly a laundry list of receivers that included: recent 2nd-round pick K.J. Hamler, 2018 4th-round pick DaeSean Hamilton, now-Florida Gator Justin Shorter, now-Saints wideout Juwan Johnson, Steelers wideout Saeed Blacknall, former XFL-starter DeAndre Thompkins and NFL star Buccaneers wideout Chris Godwin. As you can see, it wasn’t very easy for Polk to get playing time over the course of those three years. So, he left for James Madison to end up playing all 16 games there, lead the team with 74 receptions, 1,179 yards and 11 touchdowns. He instantly became QB Ben DiNucci’s go-to-guy while at JMU for his last year of college eligibility.

Polk’s speed is rare and he showed that on his virtual pro day putting himself in an exclusive list of players that can a 4.2 40-yard dash. That speed certainly translates to the field, the electric Polk does a nice job making plenty of plays after the catch. He provided stability and a reliable outlet for DiNucci. It’s not just moving straight up-field though, Polk’s agility makes him absolutely electrifying in the open-field as he generates plenty of missed tackles. One thing I really enjoyed when watching Polk’s tape was his willingness and then his ability to finish blocks as just a 5-9 and 175-pound burner, I wasn’t exactly expecting him to register pancakes.

The Rams do not have a man this fast on the roster. With that being said, Polk could have been something special that Penn State clearly just overshadowed and the Rams could really reap the rewards if that’s the case. His ability to while holding the football is important but the fact this man went from hardly being used at Penn State to instantly being a difference-making impact game-breaker while at James Madison should tell you something. He’s got to improve and he probably knows that but make no mistake, Polk has a shot to make this roster.

WR Trishton Jackson, Syracuse

Height: 6-1

Weight: 197

40-Time at NFL Combine: 4.50

The story of Trishton Jackson follows a similar trend as Brandon Polk as someone that wasn’t utilized enough and then transferred to end up being the most important piece of the offense. Jackson was at Michigan State for his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he only barely went over 200 yards receiving for both years combined. He sat out per the lame NCAA transfer rules in 2018 and started his redshirt Junior season in 2019. His junior season was incredible as he started every game for the Orange and logged in a 1,000-yard season which ended up being just the sixth Syracuse receiver to do that and the first junior to ever do that. He also reeled in 66 passes that went for 11 touchdowns. You could argue if Jackson should have stayed at Syracuse for another year especially with talented signal-caller Tommy DeVito but it’s worth mentioning Jackson had day three draft grades on him and was expected by a decent number of people to be drafted.

Jackson has great size for an NFL receiver, he’s got above-average speed to win over the top, he excels in boxing out defenders and using his frame to win most deep-ball opportunities. His hands are reliable and he is an above-average route runner. Jackson will have to work in special teams more but he does have a lot of experience from his days as a Spartan. Jackson does possess the one specific trait the Rams drool over and that is the ability to run after the catch, he displays great sideline awareness as well as balance. He can fully dodge a tackler but has enough meat on his bones to run through defenders. The versatile and yet, the developmental receiver has a chance to be very good in this league.

Is it fair to say Trishton Jackson is the best receiver out of the Rams crop of UDFAs? No, not really. However, he is a very talented wideout that could be labeled as a one-year wonder by the glass half empty audience. However, I would make the argument it should be looked as a clear overshadowing done at Michigan State and his ability to make an instant impact once he got an opportunity. Jackson can make a run at a spot on the Rams 55-man roster but if he doesn’t he should be considered a surefire candidate to make it onto the practice squad if no one claims him first.

WR J.J. Koski, Cal Poly

Height: 6-1

Weight: 186

40-Time at Virtual Pro Day: 4.44

Koski redshirted his first year at Cal Poly coming off an impressive high school campaign at San Ramon Valley High School. Koski went onto his redshirt-freshman season where he started all 12 games. The following year he increased his production and then did so the year after that. It wasn’t until his senior season, Koski had developed into the guy at Cal Poly. He finished his career with the Cal Poly Mustangs coming down with 121 receptions, 2,311 yards and 18 touchdowns.

The things that point to Koski’s game are the fact that he was Cal Poly’s deep threat. He ran extremely well and had the height you look for in a wideout on the outside. He didn’t have any issue stacking defensive backs and climbing upfield to make a play. Koski is a solid all-around receiver that has the hands to catch anything thrown his way and the speed to keep the defense honest.

It’s going to be very tough for Koski to make this roster. He’s a good camp receiver to have but he doesn’t have the type of production or experience against top competition like some of the other guys have. If he can continue to develop he has a shot but without serious production, in the return game, his abilities are slightly limited in a very good receiving room.

OL Cohl Cabral, Arizona State

Height: 6-5

Weight: 300

Cabral is a former 4-star recruit out of high school. He was an offensive line depth piece his freshman year, the following year Cabral started every game at left tackle, and his junior year became a team captain and started the whole season at center after moving there. He was considering the possibility of entering the NFL Draft but he decided to ultimately stay and work on his game while developing another year at Arizona State. Cabral was once again voted as a team captain and once again started every-single game from the moment he became a starter in 2017.

Cohl Cabral’s strength is in pass protection. He displays an adequate anchor and often-times wins early on in the rep in which he doesn’t allow his opponent to get back in the fight until it’s too late. Cabral has the ability to work on short pulling blocks, his football IQ is perfect for the center position and he displays clear-cut consistency in pass sets. His weakness comes in the running game. He’s not overly effective or athletic enough to get to the second-level and make that impact block to spring a five-yard run into a 25-yard run. He has some serious work to do but there’s enough there to work with and find a role for on your roster. Most importantly, Cabral never looks lost and he never panics. Cabral will whiff on a block on the run but he will never look absolutely lost and out of the play.

The great thing for Cabral is that the Rams only brought in one offensive lineman in UDFA and that’s him. He’s not undersized, he has versatility after starting 13 games at left tackle and 25 games at center. It’s pretty open for Cabral to make this roster especially now with the increased 55-man roster. The Rams may want to keep more offensive linemen than they have in the past due to only drafting one in the draft. Cabral’s versatility, pass protection efficiency, intelligence and most importantly, his availability might be enough to push him onto the active roster.

Summary

All in all this looks like a very tough group of offensive players that are all coming into camp with a chip on their shoulder. Players like Bryce Perkins and Josh Love who are arguably a lot better than some of the quarterbacks that were drafted. You have players like Trishton Jackson and Brandon Polk that were held back in their young careers due to mismanagement or overshadowing that caused them to transfer and find success late. You also have players like Cohl Cabral and Xavier Jones that have loads of production in college and simply were forgotten about during the draft. Of course, to conclude you have your Earnest Edwards and J.J. Koski type of players that didn’t get the exposure they needed and to top it off were heavily limited due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Teams did not have a ton of confidence in going with a small-school prospect in the draft that they weren’t able to meet or watch on TV, so because of this a lot of bigger-named school players got drafted than most years.

It’s going to be a fun battle and it’s also going to be impossible to predict who makes the roster but do not sleep on any of these guys because the UDFA title is next to their name. We’ve recently seen the Rams organization keep undrafted players like rookie QB’s Austin Davis, John Wolford, undrafted rookie RB’s Malcolm Brown, Trey Watts, Justin Davis, undrafted rookie WR’s Paul McRoberts, Bradley Marquez, Nsimba Webster and of course undrafted rookie OL’s Pace Murphy, Coleman Shelton and Jeremiah Kolone. The point is, this isn’t a team that throws their UDFA’s in a trash can, they will give you an opportunity if you prove it and earn it.

This undrafted rookie class should have fans and the team in general very excited for this summer and what could be the final product of their team when the time comes.

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