The Los Angeles Rams will begin training camp on July 27 which means the begin of football season is getting closer. While fans look forward to training camp, we’ve already gotten a look at some players who will be wearing a Rams uniforms in 2021. During OTA’s fans got a glimpse of Matthew Stafford in a Rams uniform for the first time. Jacob Harris also drew excitement showing off his athletic ability.
Before we head into training camp, here are three players who are slightly overrated and three underrated.
TE Jacob Harris – Overrated
This isn’t a knock on Jacob Harris or his ability whatsoever. This is simply based on how he’s currently rated by the fanbase. Harris can undoubtedly develop into a good player and contributor on offense. The chances of that happening in year one are just very slim.
The transition from college to the NFL is already difficult. However, it seems to take even longer at the tight end position. Harris is a tight end, but he enters the league after playing wide receiver at Central Florida. Not only will Harris be making the transition to the NFL, but he will be doing it at a brand new position.
The opportunity for Harris to contribute is there with Tyler Higbee as the only true starting tight end on the roster. However, it seems unlikely that he will have much of an impact as a rookie. Darren Waller made the same transition and it took him four years to finally break out. It may not take that long for Harris, but day one is a little far-fetched.
RB Darrell Henderson – Underrated
There is good reason for Los Angeles Rams fans to be excited about running back Cam Akers. Akers is a solid running back with the ability to do everything and carry the load. However, with that thought process in mind, some have seemed to forget that Darrell Henderson is in that same backfield. The Rams selected Henderson in the third round one year before Akers. He’s not going to all of a sudden not have a role.
This is especially the case since Henderson was very efficient with his carries last season. The analytics are very high on Darrell Henderson. Henderson had the 14th best running grade with a 79.2 and ranked fourth in DVOA according to Football Outsiders.
This isn’t to say that Henderson is going to be the Rams’ lead back. However, the Rams aren’t going to just have this guy on the bench all game. It’s pretty reasonable to believe that Akers will be the lead back with Henderson still getting five carries and up to 10 total touches per game.
RB Jake Funk – Overrated
In the seventh round of the 2021 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Rams selected running back Jake Funk. It seems weird to call a seventh round selection overrated, but Rams fans seem to love this guy. Like Harris above, this isn’t to say that Funk can’t be good or won’t have some sort of role, but let’s just slow down a little bit.
Funk is likely to be a special teams player in year one and as long as the Rams have Akers and Henderson, it’s unlikely that he’ll have much of a role, if any, in the backfield. It also would not be surprising to see the Rams try to incorporate Funk in a similar role that the 49ers use Kyle Juszczyk. Even still, as a seventh round rookie, that wouldn’t come for another year or two.
It also should be mentioned that Funk has dealt with his share of injuries throughout his college career. Hopefully with the Rams he stays healthy and is able to live up to his potential. However, being able to stay healthy will be crucial for his development.
DE Aaron Donald – Underrated
It seems very odd to call the defending Defensive Player of the Year underrated, especially when that player is Aaron Donald. However, going into his age 30 season, some seem to be writing off Aaron Donald. Some would even argue that Donald didn’t deserve the Defensive Player of the Year award last year and that it belonged to TJ Watt.
Wait, some NFL exec/player/coach thinks not only is Aaron Donald NOT the best interior defender, but that there are THREE better than him???
Remember this the next time you're demanding if somebody played the game before they comment on something.https://t.co/iDV7y9O6jH
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) July 6, 2021
When one executive, coach, or player put Donald fourth on a list of defensive tackles, that shows just how much people are writing Donald just because he’s getting older. The particular voter is ESPN’s poll prioritized youth and upside, but even at age 30, Donald has plenty of upside.
After all is said and done, Donald might go down as the best defensive player ever. He could cement that with a fourth defensive player of the year award in 2021.
LB Micah Kiser – Overrated
Like the other two players on the overrated list, this isn’t to say that Kiser isn’t a good player. However, he’s rated much higher by fans than he should be. Kiser was credited with 10 missed tackles last season according to Pro Football Reference and had a 11.5% missed tackle percentage. Those numbers were among the highest for linebackers last season.
Kiser was also targeted in coverage and allowed 31 receptions on 50 targets for a 62% completion percentage and gave up three touchdowns. His 39.5 grade in coverage according to Pro Football Focus ranked in the bottom-10. The Rams were thin at linebacker, but there is a reason the team drafted Ernest Jones.
Despite being with the Rams for three seasons, a starting spot is not a guarantee for Kiser this season.
NT – Sebastian Joseph-Day – Underrated
I debated putting Jordan Fuller here as I do think that Fuller is underrated by Los Angeles Rams and NFL fans and pundits alike. Rams fans might think Fuller is good, but Fuller is better and will take on a huge role in the Rams defense this season.
However, Sebastian Joseph-Day seems like the better fit here. He’s finally getting some of the respect that he deserves. Throughout his time with the Rams, he’s been nothing short of solid. SJD can be eat space in the middle like a typical nose tackle and is arguably the defensive lineman that the Rams have when it comes to stopping the run.
Last season, Joseph-Day had the 13th best run defense grade according to Pro Football Focus. He also led the team in defensive stops and had the team’s 3rd-highest defensive overall grade. According to Cynthia Frelund Joseph-Day made 55 tackles on 400 defensive snaps, good for a 13.8 percent rate — the highest among interior defensive linemen. Said Frelund, “On rushing downs, he significantly limited yards gained (ranking sixth-best among interior DLs) and first downs/touchdowns (ninth-best).”
The Rams struggled to find their nose tackle after moving to a 3-4. SJD has fit that bill perfectly.