Los Angeles Rams Rookie Watch: Grading the Rookie Class in the Win Over Dallas

by Hunter Sanders
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The LA Rams kicked off the season with a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. While it was far from dominant, a win is a win, and no fan can complain about that. The Rams’ rookie draft class made some key plays that contributed to the victory, but how did they perform as a whole?

RB Cam Akers

Akers, the man who many are expecting to replace Todd Gurley, didn’t shine in his NFL debut. He wasn’t bad by any means, but he was merely average. The 2nd round pick from Florida State toted the rock 14 times for just 39 yards (long of 6) and caught his only target for 4 yards. He played 24 snaps to Malcolm Brown’s 44, and Darrell Henderson’s 5. He received 0 snaps on 3rd down, 8/9 of which went to Brown. McVay clearly trusts Brown more in passing situations (and for good reason), and that likely won’t change anytime soon. It wasn’t a spectacular start for the rookie, but he didn’t make any mistakes. Expect him to get more snaps as he gets better acclimated to the offense. Grade: C+

WR Van Jefferson

After a great summer, Jefferson had a lot of hype surrounding him coming into the season. However, as many expected, he started as the WR4. Jefferson was held to 1 catch for 31 yards on 3 targets, but his 1 catch was a thing of beauty.

One of Jefferson’s targets led to a Jared Goff interception, but that only happened because the refs missed a clear hands to the face penalty on Goff. Jefferson was 4th among the WR group with 33 snaps, just behind Josh Reynolds’ 37. Expect this to be the norm for at least the first few weeks, but I believe Jefferson will solidify himself as WR3 by the season’s end. Grade: B-

OLB Terrell Lewis

Lewis was inactive on Sunday due to a knee injury. We still don’t know the severity of the injury, or when Lewis will don the blue and gold for the first time. HC Sean McVay calls it a “unique situation” and hasn’t given much information on the topic. When he does suit up, he’ll probably play on a limited snap count until he’s fully healthy. Grade: N/A

DB Terrell Burgess

Burgess was active against Dallas but didn’t play a single snap. We’re not exactly sure why that is, but it’s clear the coaching staff likes fellow rookie Jordan Fuller much more. Burgess excelled both as a safety and in the slot in college, and the Rams have liked his performance in training camp. He may not get a ton of action this season due to the Rams’ depth in the secondary, but don’t expect 0 snaps to be the norm for the Utah product. Grade: N/A

TE Brycen Hopkins

Hopkins was inactive, as the Rams chose not to carry 4 tight ends into the game. This was to be expected, as Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett are both good starters, and Johnny Mundt is a reliable run blocker. Hopkins likely won’t get much playing time unless one of those 3 gets injured, but should the Rams decide to let Everett walk next season, Hopkins could play a bigger role in the offense next year. Grade: N/A

S Jordan Fuller

Fuller was, without a doubt, the top rookie on the field yesterday. Heck, he was one of the best players on the field. Not only did he lead the team with 8 total tackles (5 solo), but he was making plays left and right. His best highlight was a key 4th down stop against fellow rookie CeeDee Lamb.

On top of that, the Ohio State product played 71/72 (99%) defensive snaps, which is absurd for a 6th round pick who was expected to be a season-long backup. Fuller received high praise from Sean McVay after the win. “He’s been making plays, he’s mature beyond his years. The way he sees things, his range, his ability to make plays, as he demonstrated tonight. I’m very pleased with Jordan.” Grade: A-

K Sam Sloman

After winning the starting kicker job over Austin MacGinnis and Liriim Hajrullahu, Sloman was solid in his first NFL game. He went 2/3 on FG attempts, missing from 29 yards out, and hitting from 31 and 35. He was also 2/2 on PATs. After his miss off the left upright, the rookie responded by making his next 2 kicks. In a game as close as this one, every point mattered, and Sloman provided more times than not. Grade: B

OL Tremayne Anchrum

Anchrum was inactive for the game, as the Rams are comfortable with their existing starting and backup linemen. I don’t anticipate Anchrum to be active for much of the season. Grade: N/A

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