If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Rams and you’ve been following along in training camp, you’ll know that Van Jefferson and Nsimba Webster have been turning heads in practice. Even with a loaded receiving corps, Jefferson and Webster figure to carve out roles with the team — whether it be on offense or special teams.
Jefferson is beginning his career with the Rams as a second-round pick out of Florida. The former Gator brings a football pedigree with him, as his father, Shawn Jefferson, played in the NFL from 1991-2003. The moment you get a chance to watch Jefferson, it’s evident that his whole life has been dedicated to football.
As for Webster, similar to Cooper Kupp, he spent his college days at Eastern Washington. But unlike Kupp, Webster went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft and signed with the Rams. Webster has had to earn his way onto the roster and he continues to work toward securing a full-time starting role in the future.
When looking at the Rams, their wide receivers are arguably the deepest position group on the roster. Besides Kupp, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds round out a talented pass-catching unit that includes Jefferson and Webster. Not many teams can say they could replace a player like Brandin Cooks — who Los Angeles traded this offseason — with relative ease.
It remains to be seen what roles Jefferson and Webster will have in Los Angeles’s crowded receiving room in the upcoming season. Nonetheless, let’s take a deeper look at what Jefferson and Webster can each bring to the Rams in 2020.
Seeing that the Rams took Jefferson with the No. 57 pick, they have extensive plans for the Florida product. Given his polished route-running and savviness as a rookie, it’s been noted that Los Angeles could have selected him as a possible replacement for Kupp. But who’s to say that both of them can’t coexist in the offense together in 2020 and possibly in the future?
Following the departure of Cooks via trade, Reynolds is currently expected to be the third wideout on the depth chart. However, telling from how the Los Angels media — and even Sean McVay — is speaking about Jefferson, he may be involved in the starting offense sooner rather than later.
According to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue (who has done a remarkable job covering the Rams in her short time with the team), Jefferson has been getting work with the 1s in training camp. During Saturday’s scrimmage, Jefferson was able to haul in a 30-yard reception from Jared Goff as he was being covered by David Long.
For reference, and I hope they give you video, Jefferson creates some space just before the catch point against David Long JR. on fourth down, and secures a 30-yard ball from Goff. https://t.co/InqnbXPGpd
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 29, 2020
On Saturday night, Stu Jackson of the team’s official site (who is also worth a follow for his coverage of the team) posted the video of Jefferson making the fantastic reception. As seen in the video, Long plays the coverage well, but Jefferson is able to snag the ball over his shoulder after creating just enough separation for Goff to fit the ball in.
This is the 30-yard completion from QB Jared Goff to rookie WR Van Jefferson during the scrimmage that everyone was talking about earlier. pic.twitter.com/WwuN2j2C3n
— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 30, 2020
Ever since Jefferson has arrived in Los Angeles, McVay has raved about his natural ability despite being a rookie. While Reynolds could very well start the season alongside Kupp and Woods, Jefferson will likely see his role increase as the regular season progresses. It also wouldn’t come as a surprise if Jefferson supplants Reynolds between now and Week 1.
Once again, Webster was an undrafted rookie that had to prove to the coaching staff he deserved a roster spot in 2019. Webster didn’t receive a single snap on offense in his first season with the Rams. Similar to other young players looking to make a name for themselves, Webster saw most of his time on the field with the special teams unit.
Near the end of the 2019 season, when kick/punt returner Jojo Natson was placed on injured reserve, Webster saw some reps returning kicks for the Rams. The Eastern Washington alumn would return seven punts for 18 yards, along with 57 yards on only two kick returns.
Entering his second season with the team, Webster’s spot on the roster seems to be secure. A positive sign for Webster is that he’s been working with the other starting receivers and Goff in individual drills, as evidenced by Rodrigue.
5 receivers working with Goff a second censecutive day in individuals: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Van Jefferson, Nsimba Webster.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 26, 2020
In seeing this, Webster should have the fifth wide receiver spot safely secured for the upcoming season. Despite the fact he’s been working as the go-to returner in training camp, Webster is more than capable as a pass-catcher.
Still, barring any injuries or roster moves, the Rams likely won’t ask Webster to do much offensively in 2020. Off of his name alone though, Webster warrants some consideration as a possible contributor on offense in the future.