Over the last five years, the Los Angeles Rams haven’t had a first round pick, but have still managed to come away with good, young players.
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 and under 25 years of age that are most important to the team’s future.
RB Cam Akers – 2nd Year – 21
Selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the selection of Cam Akers was seen as controversial. However, Akers proved his doubters wrong with a strong rookie season.
While his stats were relatively similar to that of Darrell Henderson, Akers finished the season strong which included a 100-yard performance in the NFC Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks.
After cutting Todd Gurley, the Rams were missing a running back that they could count on. At just 21 years of age, Akers has shown potential to be that guy and could be in for a big sophomore year.
S Jordan Fuller – 2nd Year – 23
It’s impossible not to put Jordan Fuller high on this list. Fuller made an immediate impact last season, coming up with the game-winning stop against the Dallas Cowboys. He also intercepted Tom Brady twice on Monday Night Football.
Fuller is a big reason why the Rams felt confident in letting John Johnson III walk in free agency. He spent some of last season hurt, but when he was on the field, his presence was felt.
This season he should carve out a starting role and it won’t be much longer until he’s a star on the defensive side of the ball.
OL David Edwards – 3rd Year – 24
Among guards who were drafted in 2019, David Edwards ranked fifth in Pro Football Focus last season and his run and pass block grades ranked inside the top-10 in the class.
When the Rams drafted Edwards in the fifth round, he fell due to an injury that he had suffered. Prior to then, he was considered a potential first-round pick. The Rams were forced to play Edwards as a rookie in 2019 and he was a big reason for the turnaround on the offensive line.
With more experience, Edwards is only going to get better. He was the only second-year guard last season to register more than 1,000 snaps and his 97.9 pass-blocking efficiency tied for third among guards drafted in 2019. The Rams have a solid starter in Edwards.
WR TuTu Atwell – Rookie – 21
Atwell is only a rookie and just 21 years of age, but the Rams took him at 57th overall for a reason. The former Louisville wide receiver is fast and will bring an explosiveness that the offense has been lacking.
He may not contribute a lot as a rookie, but in year two or three, it will be the TuTu Atwell show on offense. His size is concerning, but the Rams will give him time to grow into his body as he develops as a wide receiver.
Because of what he can provide in terms of explosiveness, Atwell earns a spot above Van Jefferson. Jefferson doesn’t bring a unique aspect to the offense like Atwell as he’s very similar to Kupp and Woods.
S Terrell Burgess – 2nd Year – 22
Terrell Burgess spent a lot of his rookie year injured, however, when he was on the field, he had an impact. He allowed just four completions on seven targets last season for a total of 30 yards. Quarterbacks only had a 67.6 passer rating when targeting the rookie safety.
Burgess should have a starting role in year two, whether that’s at free safety or in the slot at nickel. Like Fuller, Burgess is another reason why the Rams felt ok about letting Johnson III walk in free agency.
DL Earnest Brown IV – Rookie – 22
The Rams really like the potential of Earnest Brown IV. Like Atwell, he’s only a rookie, but he’ll contribute in year one. He’s a versatile player and the ability to play anywhere along the defense line.
Les Snead has done a good job of hitting on day two and day three picks over the last few years. Don’t be shocked if in three years we’re looking at Earnest Brown and applauding Snead for the selection. The Rams lost Morgan Fox in the offseason and Brown could bring that sort of impact and more.
S Taylor Rapp – 3rd Year – 23
Taylor Rapp is an interesting prospect for the Rams. There’s no doubt in his ability to tackle or diagnose near the line of scrimmage. He’s also a physical specimen. After all, this was a player who burned 10,000 calories in one day.
However, he struggles in coverage. Rapp is versatile, but he excels in the box which limits him. With Fuller and Burgess as the other two safeties, Rapp will have an opportunity to step up and carve out a starting role. To do so, he’ll need to show his development as a complete safety. As it stands, Rapp is similar to what the Rams had in Mark Barron as a safety converted linebacker.
OL Bobby Evans – 3rd Year – 24
The Rams drafted Bobby Evans in the third round in 2019. He had an impact as a rookie, but provided depth last season. What the Rams have in Evans is an unknown. Is he just a depth piece? Is he the future at right tackle after Rob Havenstein?
As it stands, Evans is likely the team’s current right guard. However, even then it’s unknown if he’s comfortable playing inside full-time. The Rams have some potential here, but need to figure out the unknowns.
EDGE Terrell Lewis – 2nd Year – 22
Terrell Lewis is a physical specimen at the edge rusher position. Had it not been for injuries, Lewis could have been a first round pick. Instead, the Rams got him in the third round.
In year two, injuries are still a cause for concern. Lewis’ knee is a serious concern and he likely won’t ever be a full-time player or be able to play a full season. However, in limited time in 2020, Lewis had two sacks and managed 10 pressures. Among rookie edge rushers, Lewis had the fourth highest grade on Pro Football Focus.
LB Ernest Jones – Rookie – 21
The Rams clearly like what they have in rookie linebacker Ernest Jones. In fact, it would not be surprising if he started pretty early as a rookie. You know the Rams liked him when they said they would have had no issue taking him at 88 before trading back.
Jones isn’t a perfect prospect by any means, but with the way that the Rams use their safeties to cover for their linebackers, Jones should succeed. He has the intangibles and excels in quickly diagnosing plays. The Rams said that Jones had one of the highest leadership grades on their board. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jones as a captain on the defense soon.
1 – WR Van Jefferson – 2nd Year
2 – CB Robert Rochell – Rookie
3 – RB Darrell Henderson – 3rd Year
4 – TE Brycen Hopkins – 2nd Year
5 – DL Bobby Brown – Rookie
The next group of guys could also have a case to make their way into the back half of the top-10. Van Jefferson is likely the third wide receiver on the Rams this season and should take a jump. However, as mentioned above, he doesn’t bring anything different like Atwell does. The same can be said about Henderson. He’s shown that he can have moments, but he doesn’t necessarily stand out like Akers does.
Robert Rochell and Bobby Brown are both rookies who could have an impact early in their careers. Rochell could jump David Long on the depth chart while Brown serves as a rotational guy on the defensive line.
Lastly, Brycen Hopkins didn’t see a lot of action as a rookie. However, Gerald Everett left in free agency which opens up a spot. Hopkins could be the big-bodied receiving threat that the Rams need in the middle of the field.
Others With Potential
1 – QB Bryce Perkins – 2nd Year
2 – OL Tremayne Anchrum Jr. – 2nd Year
3 – LB Christian Rozeboom – 2nd Year
4 – OL – AJ Jackson – Rookie
5 – TE Jacob Harris – Rookie
6 – WR Ben Skowronek – Rookie
This next group has three rookies and three sophomores. We’ll start with the sophomores. Without John Wolford, the Rams might feel comfortable with Perkins as a backup option. He brings a mobile dynamic and could find a role similar to Taysom Hill.
Tremayne Anchrum is someone that the Rams really like as depth on the offensive line. It’ll be interesting to see if he finds a role this season as one of the first linemen off the bench. Meanwhile, Rozeboom spent last season on the practice squad, but he’s another undrafted linebacker to keep an eye on.
The rookies on this list are interesting. Jackson was a potential fourth-round prospect who went undrafted. Harris is a huge project, but his physical attributes give him a ton of upside. If the Rams can unload his potential, he could be a good option at tight end. Lastly, Skowronek plays bigger than his size and could grow into a legitimate threat on the boundary as a depth piece.
Players that Need to Develop
1 – EDGE Chris Garrett – Rookie
2 – DL Eric Banks – 2nd Year
3 – CB David Long – 3rd year
4 – DL Michael Hoecht – 2nd Year
5 – RB Xavier Jones – 2nd Year
6 – DL Marquise Copeland – 2nd Year
7 – S Jovan Grant – Rookie
8 – OL Jordan Meredith – Rookie
9 – RB Raymond Calais – 2nd Year
10 – OL Jamil Demby – 3rd Year
11 – OL Chandler Brewer – 3rd Year
12 – RB Jake Funk – Rookie
These are guys that will likely be at the bottom of the depth chart, but have potential to carve out a role in a few years. Chris Garrett dominated competition at the DII level. David Long hasn’t impressed and if he doesn’t show something, he could get cut. Jamil Demby has started games with the Rams, but those games have been a disaster.
Likely Cut in Training Camp
1 – WR Trishton Jackson
2 – WR JJ Koski
3 – OL Max Pircher
4 – S JuJu Hughes
5 – S Troy Warner
6 – WR Jeremiah Haydel
7 – S Paris Ford
8 – EDGE Max Roberts
9 – WR Landen Akers
10 – DL John Daka
11 – DL George Silvanic
12 – LS Steven Wirtel
These are players that will likely be cut in training camp or make the practice squad. Troy Waner and Paris Ford bring some competition at safety. Trishton Jackson and JJ Koski have spent time on the roster, but the Rams just drafted two wide receivers and added more as undrafted free agents. Pircher will likely make the practice squad as the Rams’ international prospect from Italy.