LA Rams finally bring back veteran FA ILB/DB Jake Gervase

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams have finally gotten around to signing ILB/DB Jake Gervase. While it has been expected for some time, it hadn’t occurred as quickly as expected. And that may not be hesitancy from the team’s point of view as to the talent of Gervase as much as the uncertainty of how the team plans to use him going forward.

He is either a small linebacker or a big defensive back. And therein lies the rub. How will the LA Rams use him in the 2022 NFL season?  Or even will they? He joined the team as an undrafted rookie after the 2019 NFL Draft and has been primarily a special teams contributor.  Will that be different this year? Well, the LA Rams had to re-sign him.

Which they’ve now done:

So what will be any different for Gervase this year? Actually, there are a couple of factors that could prove to be significant for Gervase this year.

Athletically gifted

For starters, the young man is an absolute athletic freak. Seriously? Yes, seriously. I was amazed at just how athletically gifted Gervase is. But if you need more than my word for it, here you go:

While that had not translated into meaningful playing time, the truth is that the Rams front office appears to have a greater appreciation for overall athleticism than ever before. His size and speed indicate that he has the basic ability to fill whatever role in the Rams’ defense (albeit not the line of scrimmage) that is needed.

Productive final two college seasons

Jake Gervase was a very productive player for the Iowa Hawkeyes in his final two seasons. In those two years, he combined to generate141 tackles, four tackles for a loss, seven interceptions, and 12 deflected passes in 24 games. But even in college, he was a bit of an oddity.

He was seldom used in his first two college seasons, perhaps a result of his walk-on freshman status. But once he earned a starting role, he quickly proved that he was every bit deserving of starting.

Gervase arrived in the NFL a bit raw as well. So far, he has emulated his first two college seasons as a walk-on, seldom used but slowly developing all of the skillsets necessary for a more significant role. Could this be the year that Jake Gervase earns playing time in this defense?  Perhaps.

Now that the Rams have a big-bodied inside linebacker to handle the primary downs, the team can continue to cross-train Gervase from safety to inside linebacker, giving them a huge niche player for nickel and dime packages. If successful, the team can weigh safeties in a more traditional pass coverage role.  That would be a positive development for Terrell Burgess, Nick Scott, and even Jordan Fuller.

Will Gervase earn playing time with the defense this year? Well, one thing is certain. He has returned to the roster, which is the first step to doing so.

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