Will the LA Rams draft class of 2021 impact the 2022 NFL season?

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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There was not a lot of noise from the LA Rams draft class of 2021. While there was a measured expectation of contribution, even that modest hope was tempered by many rookies who were redshirted, injured or both in their NFL debut. But there are some reasons to expect that to change this year. From the eight rookies who could surprise this year, we’ve been quietly but steadily raising the bar on the players who return this season.

Are we just showing our true homerism? Or do we have a factual basis for a more optimistic view of the team’s returning sophomores? Well, we’d like to believe that we are a bit objective. So what type of evidence do we hold that the team can get more out of the likes of wide receivers, defensive linemen, defensive backs, and even a running back?

Well, if you are looking for direct evidence, that will be in short supply. After all, that type of proof is a Catch-22. Returning players cannot prove that they will perform better this season until they actually go out and perform better this season. So we will need to infer our optimism indirectly.

Rams red-shirt rookies deliver in year two

For starters, much of a rookie’s first season is spent on familiarizing themselves with the new city, culture, coaches, and teammates. They arrive as a blank slate, and must learn everything, and then prove their mastery on the practice field. Only when they have satisfied the checklist of the coaching staff will they be given an opportunity to perform on the football field.

This year, much of that foundational work has been accomplished. Robert Rochell has proven his knowledge of defensive coverage. Jake Funk has proven his knowledge of the rushing plays. Bobby Brown and Earnest Brown IV already know the rigors of the LA Rams defensive line.  For all of last year’s returning rookies, this year holds the opportunity to hit the ground running.

The team has proven that the coaching staff has a good track record of coaching first-year players into second-year rotational players. Three factors play a huge part in that progression: A grasp of the role/responsibility, availability to perform, and the opportunity to do so. Based on how the LA Rams‘ front office approached the offseason, it would be a logical conclusion that the team expects many of last year’s rookies to step into larger roles for the team this year.

The Rams certainly have opportunities for players to step up this year. So it will come down to how well those players have learned their roles and remaining healthy. I believe a number of players will do so, particularly those on the defensive side of the ball.

Stay tuned as we all wait to see how the Rams roster shakes out through training camp.

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