Been waiting to type this. Now I can officially pound these words on the keyboard in excitement: Los Angeles Rams football is back.
And it begins on Sunday when the future of the franchise report to the UC Irvine campus, as the 2021 rookie class is the first to enter the building. And I think it’s time we get an idea of who will be setting the tone for the 2021 camp season: The rooks.
Here’s how it breaks down: Who is coming in and what role they will likely serve.
The Drafted Rams Coming in
Nine new Ram players were added beginning on May 1 through the NFL Draft. Seven of the draft picks represent a skill position, while two rookies were drafted to help bolster the defensive trenches. Here’s who will be coming in and what their roles will likely entail:
- Tutu Atwell, wide receiver: The first Rams selection at No. 57 overall. Atwell is expected to improve a deep attack that disappeared in stretches last season, with no Ram wideout catching a pass that extended beyond 60 yards. The 5-foot-9 Atwell, though, could be another red zone option for L.A.
- Ernest Jones, linebacker: The third round selection at No. 103 is heading to a pretty crowded ILB room. However, Jones is a tackling machine and cerebral ‘backer who could be a future alignment caller. He’s likely to start with special teams.
- Bobby Brown III, defensive tackle: Fourth rounder is considered the fourth option in the interior rotation alongside a veteran heavy group. At 6-foot-4, 325-pounds, he’s built to take on centers and guards in the Rams’ 3-4 look. Expect him to be plugged in at the zero technique early.
- Robert Rochell, cornerback: The 130th overall selection has this opportunity: Replacing Troy Hill as the “star” cornerback, also known as the nickel corner. He’s versatile enough to line up at safety too, but is heading to camp ready to compete for the slot CB spot vacated by Hill.
- Jacob Harris, tight end: Pick No. 141 gives the offense a tall, versatile and explosive red zone option with his 6-foot-5 frame and reported 4.3 40-yard dash time. The Rams could also be convinced to throw him at WR on third downs given his speed and frame.
- Earnest Brown IV, defensive end: The lone fifth rounder brings line versatility as someone who can line up on the edge or inside. At 6-foot-5, 270-pounds, he’s likely to be aligned as a five or nine technique option early.
- Jake Funk, running back: Already a favorite by Sean McVay by being called “mature.” Plus has “arguably the best name in the NFL.” Seventh rounder was originally slated for special teams but now, with Cam Akers out for the year, he could become a RB option especially near the goal line.
- Ben Skowronek, WR: Nephew of former Ram Trent Green could be a Gerald Everett-type; as a TE and fullback blocking option though he’s a WR. Skowronek isn’t a blazer, but is a physical blocker and can catch in traffic. He may have a future at TE.
- Chris Garrett, OLB: A decorated NCAA Division-II star, Garrett has a chance to add a pass-rushing element opposite of Leonard Floyd. He also shattered the DII record of forced fumbles with 15.
The Undrafted Rams Heading to Irvine
Eleven more rookies make up the rest of the rookie class. Who are they?
- Landen Akers, WR: All-Academic Big 12 wideout at Iowa State. With Nsimba Webster’s departure, has a chance to make the roster on special teams.
- Paris Ford, safety: From Aaron Donald’s alma mater Pittsburgh. Known for his punishing hits at Pitt. Could be a future box safety in the NFL.
- Jovan Grant, safety: Averaged 51.6 tackles a season at FCS program Merrimack College. School didn’t play in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns.
- Brontae Harris, CB: Went from basketball player to walk-on football player at UAB. Has four career interceptions in three collegiate seasons.
- Jeremiah Haydel, WR: All-American kick returner by ESPN. The Texas State standout has a chance to be Webster’s replacement given his own KR background.
- Alaric Jackson, offensive tackle: Started in all 42 games at Iowa and earned First Team All-Big 10 honors in ’20. Could add depth at left tackle.
- Jordan Meredith, offensive guard: All-Conference USA second team member at Western Kentucky. Started in 37 straight games at right guard.
- Max Roberts, OLB: Bounced around colleges in the FCS but starred at Boston College as a grad transfer in ’20 with 4.5 sacks in 10 games. Full name is Maximilian.
- George Silvanic, DE: Didn’t see much action at Air Force. Got 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss in truncated season.
- Troy Warner, S: Younger brother of 49ers LB Fred. Had 16 career pass breakups and two picks at BYU.
- Otis Anderson Jr., RB: The versatile UCF standout has a great chance to make the roster as a specialist or on offense with Akers’ injury.
There’s lots of speed in this class, fitting since McVay likes playing a fast style. These are the guys who will usher in the 2021 season.