3 LA Rams veterans who got a huge boost from 2023 NFL Draft
By Bret Stuter
Player II: Running back Cam Akers
I may be in the minority right now when it comes to the LA Rams expectations for running back Cam Akers. I have not problem with a young running back who is so passionate about competing in the NFL that when his role with the team fails to be clearly defined, he is willing to march into the head coach's office and set the record straight. What began to many as an insubordinate player turned into the Rams organization completely reshuffling their coaching staff.
Some may not have forgiven Akers for his role in that come-to-Jesus scenario held by the LA Rams in 2022, but I believe that much of the discovery of the factors that came to a head lead to the team doing a complete renovation for 2023. The LA Rams hired one of the most respected NFL running back coaches in the business in Ron Gould. As far as Cam Akers, he certainly fulfilled his side of the bargain by rushing for 100+ yards in three consecutive games to close out the 2022 NFL season, and all behind a patchwork offensive line.
Reasons why he will flourish in 2023:
I don't believe that Cam Akers himself could have acted this offseason to create a more running back-friendly team than the LA Rams did and remain on budget in doing so. While the Rams did rescue the freefall in the draft at the running back position by choosing Ole Miss running back Zach Evans with their 215th overall pick, the Rams clearly did so out of the tremendous value he presented. The Rams were able to add a competent running back who was projected to hear his name called as early as Round 2 as late as the 215th overall pick.
While that will add some competition, Evans arrival will add more pressure to Ronnie Rivers and Kylie Williams than to Cam Akers. After all, Rams HC Sean McVay loves players he can trust, and he learned last season that he can trust Akers to run with the football.
Perhaps more importantly, the LA Rams sudden interest in adding rookie offensive linemen was not just a dalliance with an early draft pick, only to ignore the group the rest of the way. The Rams invested two draft picks, and then signed three more rookie offensive linemen after the draft. That is five new faces to a group that suffered a huge number of injuries last season. Will all five earn a slot on the team's 53-man roster? Perhaps not. But the level of competition to get to that slot has increased dramatically. And a stronger offensive line can only mean great things for the LA Rams featured running back.