The LA Rams added 9 new rookies at the 2020 NFL Draft. What is the floor/ceiling of their new rookie linebacker, LB Clay Johnston?
With the 234th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the LA Rams selected Clay Johnston, linebacker, out of Baylor. Clay Johnston is a 6-foot-1 227-pound versatile linebacker who helped the Baylor Bears compete in the Big-12 football conference for four seasons. Over that period, Johnston recorded 237 tackles, 26.5 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks, and seven passes defended. He likely fell due to his injury history, but his production was solid prior to his October 2019 knee injury. That injury ended his season, but he still had 58 tackles 2.5 sacks, and an interception on the play where he was injured.
By looking at his play we can see what players who played in the NFL resemble him his style of play the most. Next, we can use that information to project to see what he can become. First, let’s look at his basic attributes. Then looking at we know we can use it to project a comp for both their floor and ceiling.
-Won’t say he’s a sideline to sideline player but he’s damn fast
-Great instincts for the run and can be blitzed
-Not too great in pass defense
-Suffered small-time injuries that have caused him to miss games
Both Danny Trevathan and Johnston are short, late-round picks, and play very similar to one another. Their strengths are the same, and so are their weaknesses; though I’d argue Johnston is faster. While Trevathan is who I project as his NFL player ceiling, I can argue that he can get a little higher than that. Just with the pure emotion, this kid showed when he was drafted you can tell he wants it.
Another seventh-round NFL draft pick out of Baylor who played for the Rams, linebacker Bryce Hager should be his floor at worst. They’re so similar they both wore number 44 in college. Hager was better against the run than the pass like Johnston but Johnston seems to have been better than Hager was with how he finished plays with his tackles. At worst, Johnston will be a depth player who plays very well on special teams as Hager did and even have a couple starts when needed.
How many games? I have no clue but I do think he can be a bona fide player. The only problem is him and Micah Kiser are very similar players which could be an issue in pass defense. Maybe the Rams help them with one of our safeties in the box as both are talented in the run and pass? He could be a solution at Rams’ linebacker question. Johnston has passion, you can tell by his draft-day phone call. He should make a run to be one of the starting linebackers, especially since the depth is pretty thin.