LA Rams rookie LB Clay Johnston top-shelf player for Coach Barry

(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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LA Rams Joe Barry
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Good things

The LA Rams have a rather traditional method to integrate rookies into their roles. While many fans consume the positive impact stories about a young man’s talents after the draft, the Rams’ perspective for the rookies is one of gradual integration. It’s an err-on-the-side-of-caution for their young additions, rather than a sink-or-swim pressure cooker. So far the process seems to work, as even in the chaos of 2019’s injuries to the offensive line, the team eventually found bedrock and actually improved.

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That’s not to say that the Rams place rookies on the bench with pen and paper and direct them to take notes. Instead, the Rams platoon rookies on special teams, particularly those who play defensive back and linebacker.  The ability to cover most of the field and make a tackle are skills needed on special teams.  Succeed there, and it opens doors to other roles

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The LA Rams may not look to the rookies to start the 2020 season, but there will be plenty of defensive snaps to distribute to players. The LA Rams defensive formations will frequently change this season.  While the team has loaded up with versatile players who can play multiple roles, there will still be a place on the defense for players who can deliver the thump as well.

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Clay Johnston can certainly develop in a very good NFL starting linebacker for the Rams. But don’t expect him to deliver all that on day one. NFL linebackers take time to transform into a starter, and that’s likely the route for Johnston this season.