Will LA Rams offense feature 2020 NFL Draft class anytime soon?

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Bewildering many, the LA Rams used valuable 2020 NFL Draft picks on offensive skill players. So the question is, why are they not playing them?

The LA Rams have a knack for fitting young rookies into their rotation. For defense, the team seems to focus on players in the later rounds. Then, they are drafted pretty quickly into the defensive rotation, sometimes even winning out a starting role. But for offensive rookies, they sit on the bench, biding their time. On the remote chance that they will see action, it’s a brief series. Then, it’s back to the bench.

The LA Rams have serious offensive talents and weapons among their class of 2020. There is running back Cam Akers, wide receiver Van Jefferson, tight end Brycen Hopkins, and even offensive lineman Tremayne Anchrum. To date, the LA Rams have played all four rookies a total of 140  offensive snaps.  That is out of an estimated 1,680 offensive snaps played so far for four players. So why are the Rams not playing them?

Rams rookies in reserve

Well in reverse order, the Rams knew all along that playing OL Anchrum would be on an emergency basis only.  Even still, he is getting some modest work on special teams. A similar story exists for TE Hopkins, who joined the team as insurance for 2021. He is fourth on the team’s depth chart, and the Rams have struggled to get the ball into the hands of their existing tight ends. Hopkins did get two offensive snaps in the game against the Chicago Bears and may see more work as he continues to develop.

That leaves just running back Cam Akers and wide receiver Van Jefferson.  Akers was thought to be the eventual featured-back of this offense, but he has only seen 44 offensive snaps or nine percent of the plays so far. He’s carried the ball 26 times for 113 yards for an impressive 4.3 yards.

The strategy of playing rookies now

But the true head-scratcher has been the absence of Jefferson from the aerial assault.  In 94 offensive snaps, 20 percent of the plays, he has been targeted just 12 times. Of those passes, he has caught seven for 98 yards.  While the completion rate of just 58 percent needs to improve, Jefferson is a rookie who will need more work to get into a rhythm on the offense.

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Perhaps the Rams will work rookies into their offensive rotation after the bye week. Certainly, our hope was that both Akers and Jefferson would have established themselves in the rotation by now. If the Rams cannot ensure the performance of younger players in the regular season, they will be of little value to the team in any post-season contests.  Hopefully, the Rams will be strategic and involve younger players in the offense now. Rookies should not be seeing their first major action in the NFL playoffs.