What roles can 10 remaining UDFAs fill with LA Rams in 2021?
By Bret Stuter
From the moment news broke about the LA Rams signing RB Xavier Jones (who made the 53-man roster) after the 2020 NFL Draft, I was hopeful to see him on the field carrying the football. After all, he was the best scorer in the NCAA in 2019, and the Rams just happened to be a team whose offense was struggling to score points.
It seemed to be destiny.
And yet, throughout 16 regular-season games, and two playoff games, he could get no closer to the football than special teams play. Not one touch of the football on offense. Not even one offensive snap. So there is a disconnect somewhere between the perception of someone special, and the reality that the young man could not crack the rotation at running back.
Well…perhaps? Let’s rewind a bit. The LA Rams entered the 2020 NFL season planning to play veteran RB Malcolm Brown, elusive RB Darrell Henderson, and round out the trio with rookie RB Cam Akers. Despite getting plenty of work in training camp, even Akers found it challenging to break into the rotation. And Xavier Jones did not have any work with the first-string.
So what does Xavier Jones have going for him in 2021? Well, the LA Rams have a position opening up as veteran RB Malcolm Brown tests free agency, And there was a strong endorsement by All-Pro Aaron Donald who named Jones as one of the best players after the second scrimmage game. And then there is the word from GM Les Snead that Xavier Jones would be the featured rusher after Darrell Henderson suffered a high ankle sprain. Jones was the planned rusher in a critical game.
This 5-foot-11 208-pound running back is similar in stature to Brown’s 5-foot11, 225-pound frame. It is Jones’s 4.52-second 40-yard dash time against Brown’s 4.62-second 40-yard dash time where the differences separate. And that difference should be enough to crowbar Jones into the Rams rotation in 2021. Jones is big, strong, fast, and can score. In fact, he may be a key factor in the Rams offense in 2021.