New Rams 6-foot-5 Addition Predicted to Have Surprise Breakout Season

Sean McVay

Getty Sean McVay talks to Brycen Hopkins on November 27, 2022.

Many NFL fans and analysts blasted the Los Angeles Rams following what they received from the March 2023 Jalen Ramsey trade to the Miami Dolphins.

The Rams not only gained a 2023 third round draft selection with the deal, which gave them Byron Young of Tennessee, but the Rams first received little-known tight end Hunter Long — who has spent his career as a reserve.

However, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski believes the newest 6-foot-5 option for the offense is capable of being more impactful than many believe — writing Long’s name down on Sunday, June 4 as one of nine players primed for a breakout season with their new team.

“As part of the Jalen Ramsey trade, the Los Angeles Rams received a third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long from the Miami Dolphins. Long’s inclusion shouldn’t be overlooked, because he can play a big part of in Sean McVay’s offensive scheme,” Sobleski said.

Why Long Could Impact the Rams Than What Others Believe

Again, Long isn’t considered a household name in the league — or even during his brief time with the Dolphins.

Long only has one catch for eight yards during his regular season career according to Pro Football Reference. He’s also started in just two games while seeing part-time action in 16 total contests. He’s been more on the reserved size following his arrival to the league out of Boston College.

“After being a third-round pick in 2021, the 6-foot-5, 254-pound Long primarily served as an in-line blocker for the Dolphins,” Sobleski wrote. “But he left the collegiate ranks as an accomplished receiver, with first-team all-conference credentials.”

Long was indeed a valuable receiving option in the Atlantic Coast Conference. His receptions and yardage totals improved each season — going from four catches his first collegiate season to 57 his final CFB year of 2020. He also ended the coronavirus season of ’20 with 685 yards and five receiving touchdowns, two more career-best marks. He was even described as a “pass-catching tight end with decent speed and plus ball skills” by draft expert Lance Zierlein ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

While the Rams are already set at tight end with a longtime veteran and one of the last Rams from the Jeff Fisher era, Long could still make a push for increased snaps as an extra receiver off a look McVay likes to throw.

“Tight end Tyler Higbee led the Rams in targets last season, though Cooper Kupp’s ankle injury certainly played its part. A healthy Kupp will return as Matthew Stafford’s top target, but 12 personnel packages with Higbee and Long on the field at the same time might become the new norm,” Sobleski said.

That could mean a new, needed red zone presence for the Rams in 2023.

State of Rams TE Room

Is tight end a strength heading into 2023 in the “Rams House?”

Time will tell, but it is a position that could use more consistency and healthy options.

“Big Rig Higs” has been the stalwart at this spot under McVay, but he has a history of not staying healthy and has had games where there’s a notable drop off in his catches.

Brycen Hopkins has also stuck around, as he enters season four. However, the Super Bowl 56 winner is entering a contract year.

Then there’s Christian Sims rounding out the rest of the room, who comes over as an undrafted rookie out of Bowling Green. Sims caught 94 career passes for 948 yards and scored five touchdowns.

Long is likely in a battle with Hopkins for TE2. But his receiving background could provide a needed jolt for this position. What could also help Long and the Ram tight ends? New offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur previously helped oversee George Kittle’s career-best 1,377-yard season of 2018 when he was the passing game coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.

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