The Rams may not have had a first-round pick, but they did have two second-round picks. A lot of needs for the Rams team, specifically at the Edge position, inside linebacker, depth in the secondary, offensive line, running back, and now wide receiver; so needless to say, the Rams need talent all over the field. So how did they do in the second round? Let’s take a look.
Grading The Rams 2nd Round Draft Picks
Pick 52 – Cam Akers, RB Florida State
Let’s get the bad out of the way first. This was a shock to pretty much everyone, and here is why. When the Rams made the tough decision to release Todd Gurley, most thought it was because they had faith in Darrell Henderson, whom they drafted in the third round last year, to become the feature back. Drafting a running back wasn’t shocking, they would need to add another for depth, but as their first pick in this year’s draft, that’s what is surprising.
If there is one thing that we need to learn about the Snead/McVay era, it’s that they tend to say and promote one thing and do another. While the offensive line struggled last year, those close to the organization felt that the team feels confident with the players they have and hope that the group will continue to grow. They have drafted heavily at that position the previous two seasons, so it would be tough to start over there again.
Now looking back at the RB position, Darrell Henderson was not drafted to become a featured back. He is a true complementary back. His style of play and big-play ability is meant to open up the field and playbook. As a play-caller, you use this ability if you are using him 25-30 plays a game. Not saying he couldn’t be successful, but his value would be diminished. Think of a player like Tevin Coleman. Very solid running back, but he is much better suited when he is in a complementary role.
That’s where Cam Akers comes into play. Whether or not you think the Rams should have taken a running back here, you really can’t argue with how good Cam Akers is. I admit, with the players available, I was a bit mystified when I first got word. But the more I chew on it, the more I’m coming to terms with it. Anytime you upgrade a position through the draft, that has to be a win. Cam Akers upgrades the position, no doubt.
At 5’11, 212 pounds, he is a big body that can punish defenders. He finished last year with 1,144 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 30 receptions for 225 yards and four scores.
Look at this description from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:
“He is elusive but lacking the instant burst of a slasher capable of stacking long runs in a single game. Akers has above-average open-field vision once he’s into the second level and looks to run through the tackler’s pads as a finisher. He’s a three-down option…”
So Akers does something different than Henderson and brings the durability of a true three-down back. Maybe tough to swallow at first, but when you really look at it, this is a really solid pick that will flourish in McVay’s offense. I’m not necessarily saying 2017 Todd Gurley, but you get the idea.
Final Grade: B-
— Ryan Dyrud (@RyanDyrudLAFB) April 25, 2020
Pick 57 – Van Jefferson, WR Florida
Here was another pick that surprised a lot of fans and draft analysts, not because of the talent of the player, but because of the position taken at this point of the draft while other players at positions of need were available.
We can again look at McVay and Snead perhaps singing praise a little louder than necessarily intended. Since the trade of Brandin Cooks, a lot has been said about an expanded role for Josh Reynolds. This may certainly be the case, but typically you don’t take a WR in the second round to have him become your 4th receiving threat.
And Van Jefferson probably won’t be the 4th option because he is a very good receiver. He is a TREMENDOUS route runner, and what he lacks in speed he makes up for in route-running allowing him to create separation. He is a pro-ready receiver that will make an impact immediately on this Rams’ team.
So again, it’s not the player that I have a problem with, it’s just the timing of the pick when there were much greater positions of need, as well as players at the WR position that fit the Rams better.
When analyzing the 52nd pick of Cam Akers I said that he undoubtedly upgrades the position, adding a skill-set and versatility that wasn’t there. While Van Jefferson certainly adds value to the receiving room, I don’t think he necessarily upgrades it with his style of play. He plays a lot like Cooper Kupp and would be most suitable in the slot. The Rams need a receiver that can high-point the football and be a true red-zone threat that can go up and get it. Denzel Mims, WR out of Baylor, was still on the board and would have been a much better fit for the Rams, in my opinion.
Again, love Jefferson as a player, just don’t love his fit with this unit.
Final Grade: C