We’ve made it to training camp and players have got their pads back on not just in the pursuit of a successful season, but a season in general. You probably forgot that the NFL draft DID happen this year, and with that, we look at three rookies that are ready to stand out and three that will face an uphill battle their first year.
Three Rookies That Will Impact The Rams This Season, And Three Rookies That Won’t
Rookies With Impact
Cam Akers – Running Back
This dynamic running back out of FSU could not have landed with a better team. After an aching breakup with former Rams darling Todd Gurley, Cam Akers has become the speculative lead back for an offense looking to find its spark again. With a head coach on a mission to become an NFL mainstay rather than a flavor of the week, the Rams Sean McVay may be pulling old tricks with a loaded offensive roster that carries the same ceiling as the Super Bowl 51 team. But with greater potential to eclipse 13 points on the biggest stage.
Akers’ flashes of elusive speed out of the backfield for FSU makes you wonder if this team will be better with a hungry Akers compared to an elite running back with injury issues. The ceiling for Akers will be an intriguing aspect to watch this upcoming season.
Sam Sloman – Kicker
The process of helping the Rams move on from coveted kick Greg Zuerlein rests on the shoulder of 7th-round pick Sam Sloman. The kicker out of the University of Miami Ohio was a well-warranted pick with the departure of Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein.
The Rams are a team that can play to stay in close competition, setting up their special teams to convert field goals with a McVay offense can carry the team downfield. You’ve probably heard some statement about correlation not equalling causation, but when you look at how rarely you see good kicking on a bad offense, success in kicking is a great indicator for an elite offense.
The Rams average number of field goal attempts in 2019 was the 12th highest in the league with 2.1. In 2018 as a top-3 offense, the Rams finished the year with 2.7 field goal attempts per game (highest average in the NFL). Whoever wins this position in training camp will have their jersey called plenty in a comeback year for the Rams offense and one of the top kickers from this year’s draft is nearing his moment in the spotlight.
Van Jefferson – Wide Receiver
Van Jefferson’s obstacle this season is the abundance of talent at the receiver position for the Rams. The trio of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Josh Reynolds will put a heavy cap on Jefferson’s snaps in favor of the veteran three.
Josh Reynolds is first in line to give up snaps to the rookie, and while everyone’s expecting Reynolds to break out this season, we’ll be the first to tell you that we like Van’s outstanding potential enough to bet he climbs the depth chart at some point in the season.
Rookies Facing The Uphill
Jordan Fuller – Safety
The safety out of Ohio State is more of a project than prospect coming into the league. Lacking size, speed, and footwork to cover the field at the same level as Taylor Rapp or John Johnson III will keep this rookie’s time away from the field. A chance to shadow both players and arrive for DC Brandon Staley’s first year leading the defensive unit gives this player hope of a starting role in the future.
Burgess must pick up where Robey-Coleman left off in a year that feels like the Rams’ last shot at a Super Bowl in a long time.
Brycen Hopkins – Tight End
Consider this a good season for any tight end on the Rams roster not named Tyler Higbee or Gerald Everett to sit back and watch the emerging tandem put up numbers. Hopkins has a similar skill set to Noah Fant, but unless an injury or trade were to happen, this player fit for a starting role or solid package feature will remain on the sidelines.
Terrell Burgess – Safety
Terrell Burgess is another case of inheriting a position that was once preceded by an elite player. What Sloman inherits from the departing Greg Zuerlein, Burgess receives the call to fill a void at the nickel corner position left by Nickell Robey-Coleman. As mentioned in a previous article, the Rams have a good shot of returning to the Super Bowl — still led by a great organization, coaching staff, and roster — with a return to playing with a stout defense shaped by an elite secondary.
What Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters left was a blueprint that allows the McVay system to find its groove by keeping the opposing offense off the field. Burgess must pick up where Robey-Coleman left off in a year that feels like the Rams last shot at a Super Bowl in a long time. He can be a Jason McCourty type of cornerback/safety for the Rams which will go a long way.