8 2021 LA Rams rookies who could surprise in 2022

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams Roster Alaric AJ Jackson
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

IV: Surprising starting-capable LT

The LA Rams certainly did their homework very well when signing up undrafted rookie free agent OT Alaric Jackson. Despite the Rams’ practice of red-shirting rookies, particularly those who are undrafted, Jackson not only made the roster but was called to action in a Week 16 game against the very intimidating pass rush of the Minnesota Vikings.

So the LA Rams re-signed Joseph Noteboom, meaning that Jackson will spend the season on the bench, right? I really wouldn’t be so sure of that. Noteboom was injured in 2019, an ACL injury that ended his season after just six games. That really stymied his development that season. In 2020, he was the projected starting left guard but strained his calf muscle after two games, and David Edwards took over and never looked back.

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To his credit, Noteboom did return from injury in 2020 and take over at left tackle for eight games in the latter half of the 2020 NFL season. Now, he is the projected starting left tackle. So much for Jackson’s chances, right? Well, let’s think about this just a wee-bit longer.

First of all, Jackson, a lean but tremendously powerful 6-foot-7 and 285-pounds offensive tackle should be prepared for duty. Even as the Rams want Noteboom to assume the left tackle position, Jackson has proven to be a backup who can handle the job should Noteboom fall to injury.

Jackson made his claim to the active 53-man roster with demonstrated meanness as early as the joint Dallas Cowboys-LA Rams scrimmages. From that moment on, Jackson inched his way into an active roster role in 2021. I think he is only just beginning to rise in his NFL career and will be hard to dislodge from a starting offensive line role if he takes over.