Unlike most teams, the Los Angeles Rams have had the luxury of drafting for the future and not putting the pressure of starting right away on many of their rookies. When a team takes a player on day one or two of the draft, fans expect that player to be able to contribute right away. With the Rams, that hasn’t been the case.
The Rams drafted two players in the second round last season – those players were Cam Akers and Van Jefferson. In 2020, only Cam Akers and Jordan Fuller were thrown into the starting lineup. Jefferson played just 23% of the team’s offensive snaps.
However, with the Rams, we’ve see players take a jump in year two and three. Last season, we saw Darrell Henderson take a much bigger role in his second season. David Edwards also became a full-time starter.
With that said, these players will be expected to produce after what was a “redshirt year” in college terms. Let’s take a look at the Rams’ sophomore class.
RB Cam Akers
The Los Angeles Rams selected Cam Akers with the 52nd overall pick out of Florida State. Akers dealt with a porous offensive line with the Seminoles, forcing him to drop into the middle of the second round. Despite dealing with injuries, Akers finished the year as the Rams’ leading rusher with 625 yards.
Last in the year is when Akers really left his mark, with 100 yard games against the New England Patriots and in the wild card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Akers also had an impressive showing against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.
Akers was expected to be primed for a big sophomore season. However, during training camp, he tore his Achilles, meaning he’ll miss the entire season. It’s uncertain how Akers will return after his injuries, but Rams fans will have his back throughout the process.
WR Van Jefferson
With the 57th overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams selected Van Jefferson. Jefferson played in just 23% of the team’s offensive snaps last season and finished with 19 receptions for 220 yards. After losing Josh Reynolds in free agency, some thought Jefferson could fill the third wide receiver role.
However, that was until the Rams drafted TuTu Atwell in the second round of this year’s draft and signed DeSean Jackson as a free agent. Once again, Jefferson looks to be buried on the depth chart and sharing snaps with a multitude of other receivers.
Jefferson was seen as a route-technician and one of the more pro-ready wide receivers in the draft. However, the team extended both Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp last season and then added more receivers with high draft capital this year. It’s hard to see what the future holds for Jefferson.
EDGE Terrell Lewis
Terrell Lewis’ situation is complicated. He was a first round talent that dropped into the third round because of injuries. However, it’s those injuries that have held him back early on in his career. When Lewis is on the field, he’s very talented. Unfortunately, those appearances don’t come consistently enough.
Last season, Lewis sacked Russell Wilson twice in the Rams’ win against the Seattle Seahawks. Again, when Lewis was on the field, he showed just how physically dominant he could be. Fans hoped Lewis could come into this season healthy. However, despite the Rams managing his knee, Lewis is already being held out of practice with the knee giving him issues.
It doesn’t seem like Lewis will ever be able to play a full-time role. If Lewis can’t get on the field at all this year, his future with the Rams looks very bleak.
S Terrell Burgess
Terrell Burgess had a fairly quiet rookie season as he did spend some time injured. However, like Lewis, when he was on the field, he played admirably. He had eight tackles as a rookie with one pass defended. The Utah safety was target seven times in coverage and allowed just four completions. His 67.6 passer rating allowed in coverage was also second among defensive backs on the Los Angeles Rams behind Darious Williams.
With no John Johnson, Burgess will play a larger role in 2021. He’s someone that can not only play deep at safety, but also come down and play in the slot if needed as well. The Rams will be relying on Burgess to take a big step in his development this season.
TE Brycen Hopkins
No rookie was likely more disappointing than Brycen Hopkins. Despite being drafted in the fourth round, Hopkins played a grand total of three snaps. Those three snaps came in a game in which Tyler Higbee did not play. While the Rams had three capable tight ends in Higbee, Gerald Everett, and Johnny Mundt, it would have been nice to see Hopkins take advantage of that opportunity.
Instead, the Rams drafted Jacob Harris in the fourth round this past draft as another tight end and who has likely passed Hopkins on the depth chart. Hopkins has reportedly put on a lot of muscle this offseason which has some thinking he could turn into more of a blocking tight end. Still, his overall future on the Rams might be in question.
S Jordan Fuller
To put it simply, the Los Angeles Rams got the steal in the draft in safety Jordan Fuller. When draft analysts talk about finding that diamond in the rough on day three of the draft, they’re talking about the Jordan Fullers’. However, even that is a high bar for most day three draft picks.
Fuller’s impact was felt on day one. His fourth down stop against the Cowboys secured a Week 1 win. Later in the season, he intercepted fellow 199th overall pick Tom Brady on two separate occasions.
With no John Johnson, the Rams will be relying heavily on Fuller this season and he’ll likely be the player to wear the green dot on defense. Fuller is the captain now and he’s ready to lead the NFL’s top defense.
K Samuel Sloman
Drafting Samuel Sloman was an absolute disaster. Does anything more really need to be said? Sloman missed a field goal in all but one game last season. He was cut after missing a field goal against the Chicago Bears.
LB Clay Johnston
Seventh round picks typically don’t have a lot of expectations. However, it should be expected for them to at the very least make the roster. Rams fans loved the Clay Johnston pick and some tabbed him to be a future starter. He was cut from the team during final roster cuts.