Rams Pressure Rankings
The Los Angeles Rams have had a lot of good things going for them over the last six months. Looking at the big picture, the team has had a great five-year run since Sean McVay joined the team. However, 2021 was far from perfect for several players. As such, they find themselves under more pressure than anyone else on the team to keep their job or cash in at the end of the year. That said, some may take issue with players like Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, or Aaron Donald not being featured on this list.
There’s an argument that these players and others on the team will attract more attention than ever, but with new, massive contracts already under wraps, their job now becomes just simply not getting fired. That bar is much lower than needing to prove oneself to get the contract in the first place. Basically, these players have the lead and just need to not lose. With that said, here’s a look at the four players under the greatest amount of pressure in 2022.
Bobby Evans – OG
Bobby Evans has failed to impress since the beginning. In 2019, he earned a 49.4 PFF grade. In 2020, he earned a 60 grade. In 2021, he earned a 48.2 grade. In other words, it didn’t start out great and hasn’t gotten much better. He may be the starter right now, but there are no guarantees going forward. For much of 2021’s training camp, he was the starter with Austin Corbett at center. That changed within the last few days. Evans was replaced at guard by Corbett and Brian Allen took over center.
Also, with him in the final year of his rookie contract, a failure to impress could leave him jobless in 2023. There has also been chatter coming out of Rams HQ that Logan Bruss is in the mix for the starting job as well as others on the depth chart.
Tyler Higbee – TE
After years of battling Gerald Everett for the unchallenged starter role, Tyler Higbee finally won the job for himself for 2021. Many expected him to find a new gear and put on a 1000-yard year, but he finished the year with just 560 yards and nearly 200 fewer than his best when Everett was on the team.
According to Spotrac, the tight end is entering the first year of his contract that the Rams could save money by moving on from him. No one expects that, but it does give the team extra leverage in contract negotiations. Put simply, the tight end is entering another negotiation window and a big year could earn him or lose him millions. Will Higbee step up to the plate? Currently 29 years old, his next contract will likely be his last big bite at the apple. If there was a time to breakout, 2022 is that year.
Cam Akers – RB
Cam Akers seemed poised to have a good follow-up season to his rookie effort. It is unfortunate that Akers missed almost all of last season due to his Achillies injury and, as a result, is now under more pressure to perform in 2022. Had he missed the entire season, the amount of pressure would be decently low. Instead, the last memory of the running back is him rushing 13 times for 21 yards in the Super Bowl, according to Pro Football Reference.
The most recent memories tend to last the longest and the last memory of Akers leaves plenty to be desired. With a full offseason and months to heal, the number of excuses for him is few. Lastly, With already one season-ending injury on his record, another one in 2022 would be catastrophic for his career. However, if he doesn’t take the extra risks needed to separate himself from Darrell Henderson, he could still lose his starting job this year.
Darrell Henderson – RB
2022 will be a big year for the Rams’ backfield. Since Todd Gurley‘s injury, Henderson has been a key piece in the Rams’ grand experiment in going from a bell cow system to a committee system. If Henderson and Akers both fail to provide stability in the Rams’ running game this year, the team may continue the search for the next Todd Gurley without Henderson in 2023. Drafting Kyren Williams is even more writing on the wall pointing toward Henderson’s potential fate if he doesn’t produce or stay healthy.
Right now, Henderson’s career stats won’t excite many other teams in the league. In 2020 and 2021, the running back has earned fewer than 700 yards per season. It hasn’t been said, but Henderson and Akers could also be in a battle to become next year’s bell cow. Meaning, that this year will test each back and in 2023, the winner could get 20-plus carries per game while the other gets five or less.