Have you heard? LA Rams RB Cam Akers is switching his jersey number from 23 to number 3. The significance? Number 3 was the digit worn last campaign by wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr, injured with a torn ACL in Super Bowl LVI.
Akers had worn the jersey since he was six years old and reclaims it now. What does that mean for OBJ? Is this a sign that the former LA Rams Super Bowl-winning wideout is done with the Rams? If so, who will be his replacement? Will the Rams move a ton of compensation for disgruntled San Francisco 49ers Deebo Samuel? Or will they try and acquire his replacement in the later rounds of this year’s draft? Given that trading for Samuel is a whole other conversation, let’s explore the draft as a means of reinforcement. If the Rams want a WR, who is still left available? Let’s take a closer look.
First up is the brilliantly named Charleston Rambo out of Miami (FL). Apart from the fact that I personally would love nothing more than to rock a Rams jersey with ‘Rambo’ emblazoned across its back, the 6-foot-1, 177-pounds Miami Hurricane standout would be a great addition to the Rams. Though not as physically imposing or tough as his more famous movie namesake, he makes up for it with versatility. Miami used him in multiple formations during his time there, lining up on the outside for one play, coming in to play slot the next, without any drop-off in production.
Calm and patient when going deep, he managed to rack up 90+ yards receiving in every ACC game bar one. if selected by the Rams, he could provide competition for a place on the practice squad, perhaps even a late roster spot.
Next up is WR Justyn Ross from Clemson. Unfortunately, his draft stock took a hit after he missed all of the 2020 season due to surgery on a congenital spinal fusion condition. Proving to be prone to injuries in the past, he would represent a gamble if selected by the Rams, though may prove a useful backup he can stay healthy.
WR Bo Melton of Rutgers is small at the position, 5-foot-11, and 195-pounds. He is subject to drops, but he makes up for it with a competitive spirit. He is a good route runner but doesn’t seem to have the vertical burst or get off of as a downfield threat. He has suffered drops in contested catches, too. Something which will be a worry for prospective NFL teams. He is perhaps best suited to a spot on special teams. A reliable receiver, then, but nothing special, and certainly not an adequate replacement for Odell Beckham.
WR Kyle Philips, Chip Kelly’s first recruit out of the hometown UCLA, is also undersized for the position (almost exactly the same height and weight as Bo Melton, above). Quick off the line, defensive backs have little chance to jam him., though he does need to add gears to his game in the second and third levels, where his speed tends to wane. Modeling himself on Keenan Allen is an ambitious aim, though his best chance of making a team may well be as a return man.
Being small for the position seems to be a theme among the remaining available receivers in this year’s draft, something also true of honorable mentions Khalil Shakir and Erik Ezukanma. Perhaps that is why many of them are still on the board. Standing even smaller than Melton and Philips, though, Calvin Austin III is the shortest of them all.
Standing at 5-foot-8, the Memphis Tiger WR may be the smallest receiver left, but potentially the fastest, turning Ahmad Gardener inside out during one competitive faceoff. His route running ability is very good but, needing weapons to negate the strike against him that is his height, it would need to be exceptional for teams to take a gamble on him. Like his predecessors in this list, though, he can return punts effectively, so may prove to be of use to a team in later rounds.
At 6-foot-2, 201 lbs, Romeo Doubs is my pick to replace the (potentially) outgoing Odell Beckham JR for the Rams. Once considered a first-round pick, his draft stock has suffered a little of late, but don’t let that fool you. A hometown prospect out of Jefferson High School, Doubs has what it takes to succeed in the NFL.
Playing his college ball in Nevada, Doubs posted back-to-back 1000-yard seasons and proved to be an explosive playmaker with highlight-reel potential, often stretching short gains into improbable touchdowns. A wide frame gives him an outstanding catch radius, and he has good, strong hands.
Though route running is not his strongest suit, potentially causing him issues when trying to shrug off defenders at the elite level, this is no doubt something that can be improved with coaching. Doubs is an alpha personality, just like Beckham, and will have no issues catching the ball in traffic, no doubt relishing the competition and contact. I think he would make a great addition to the Rams should they be bidding Beckham goodbye.
Wherefore art thou, Romeo? How about Los Angeles?