The LA Rams needed to nail their 2020 NFL Draft, and it appears they did. In fact, the 2020 draft class may be the best class for the team in many years.
Throughout these past four NFL drafts, LA Rams general manager Les Snead has directed some fantastic drafts. He has also directed some questionable ones. With this 2020 Draft Class, the team appears to have addressed each of their needs and maximized the value of the overall talent. Since head coach Sean McVay was hired in 2017, the Rams have yet to use a first-round pick.
The Rams traded-up for quarterback Jared Goff which cost them their 2017 first-rounder. The team next traded away their 2018 first-rounder for Brandin Cooks. In midseason of 2019, the Rams traded both the 2020 and 2021 first-round picks for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. But Snead doesn’t seem to have an issue finding the gems in the mid-rounds. The Rams have acquired some key starters in the 2017,2018 and 2019 NFL Drafts. Still, has 2020 yielded the best draft class ever?
The young safeties are shining at camp
This past week Coach McVay was asked about which rookies are standing out in camp. His answer? Rookie safety Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller. When the Rams waived cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, it was a questionable move to most. But McVay and the front office had a gameplan and knew exactly what they were doing.
Per Pro Football Focus, Burgess was ranked number two in coverage grade from the slot. Even more so, he provides versatility in the secondary which is extremely valuable in the defensive packages new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley is implementing.
Fuller filling in for Rapp
With the absence of safety Taylor Rapp due to injury, Fuller is making a name for himself. Fuller has had consecutive days of interceptions in camp, multiple pass breakups, and a fumble recovery. It seems that he is seamlessly fitting in with the defense and brings a John Johnson type energy to the field.
Out of the entire camp, we’ve probably heard Fuller’s name mentioned most frequently. He was a captain at Ohio State and presents the we-not-me attitude McVay has insisted upon in the Rams culture. The depth at safety is a luxury and could affect a possible contract for Johnson in the near future.
Did the Rams find first-round talents on day two of the draft?
OLB Terrell Lewis is a physical specimen with a similar frame of Minnesota Vikings Danielle Hunter at 6-foot-5 and 265-pounds. He is a highly-touted pass rusher coming out of Alabama with some explosive traits. The main concern most teams had on him was his injury history, which generated a medical flag on his draft profile. If Lewis can stay healthy, the Rams might’ve found them another gem.
During the Rams training camp live segment, Lewis was shown dominating the right side of the line. He made quick work of most of the players he went against, but most notably the Rams rookie standout from 2019, offensive lineman Bobby Evans. Ram’s free-agent acquisition NT A’Shawn Robinson has taken Lewis under his wing and has been coaching him up on the sideline after every play. They have a connection from the University of Alabama and Robinson is a great mentor to learn from as he is a stud in stuffing the run.
Van Jefferson has been dominating his one on ones
At the start of camp, WR Van Jefferson was working with the number twos and catching passes from QB John Wolford. He has shown enough already from dominating in those sessions that he’s already working with the ones. He even scored twice in the RedZone on the Rams lockdown elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey in training camp. Coach McVay has been praising his name all camp and Jared Goff had stated in an interview:
"“He’s been really impressive and has done a good job. It reminds me a lot of when Cooper Kupp was a rookie, he was just so far ahead of where a rookie should be. He’s done a great job and he’s really picked things up fast.” – per Eric Williams via Twitter"
This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. He’s an elite route runner who creates separation with ease. He had dominated practices at the senior bowl and now is dominating at the Rams training camp. Sports analysts also said he was the fastest wideout at the senior bowl. Unfortunately, due to an undiagnosed foot injury, he didn’t end up running his 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Jefferson was projected as a first-round pick if it weren’t for the medical flag and the inconsistency at the quarterback position at the University of Florida.
Cam Akers has all the tools
During the draft, it seemed as if Coach McVay was the most thrilled after drafting the running back out of Florida State, Cam Akers. McVay openly pumped his fist in the air at the excitement because the organization thought another team was going to try to trade up for him. And for good reason. Cam Akers is a running back that can do it all. He can catch passes out of the backfield, pass protect, run in between the tackles and has an exceptional burst to attack the perimeter. Akers was the number one ranked running back coming out of high school and every college wanted him. He eventually chose to go to Florida State. There, he had a tremendous amount of success despite one of the worst offensive lines in all of college football.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey gave him his welcome to the NFL, in a moment in practice by laying him out. At the scrimmage game at SoFi Stadium, Aaron Donald has already forced a fumble from him. This is good though, iron sharpens iron. Ramsey has already mentioned how excited he is for Akers and that he’s a great teammate already. The amount of success he can have in the McVay system is through-the-roof. So don’t be overly shocked if he continues the legacy of another great Rams’ running back in the organization.
Don’t forget about these players
Tight end Brycen Hopkins is an intriguing player who has a great amount of athleticism. He was most likely drafted because veteran tight end Gerald Everett is projected to test the NFL Free Agency market at the end of this season. The Rams are always drafting for the future. This pick could end up being great in the long run as the Rams have transitioned over to mostly 12 personnel.
Inside linebacker Clay Johnston has an infectious energy and a high football IQ. If it weren’t for a season-ending injury at Baylor, he more then likely would’ve been drafted much higher than the seventh round. You can tell he’s a player that just loves football and loves to learn. He has a great relationship with Rams linebacker coach Joe Barry and he’s a player you just want to root for. His most likely destination is the practice squad but you shouldn’t be surprised if he makes the active roster with the inexperience at inside linebacker.
Offensive lineman Tremayne Anchrum has been getting some good reps in camp. His first day it looked as if he was getting tossed around but since that time, he has continued to show progress. He came from Clemson University so he’s gone against some premier talent in his years there. During the matchups vs Ohio State, he kept first-round pick Chase Young in check for the majority of the game, which is very impressive because Young is a generational talent.