Can LA Rams rookie RB Zach Evans shock the NFL in 2023?

NFL Combine Zach Evans
NFL Combine Zach Evans / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

Oh, you have to enjoy the unbridled optimism and enthusiasm that is everywhere in the NFL right now. It's that time of year when the worst NFL teams from a year ago, fueled by a solid rookie class, begins to think about the NFL Playoffs. And the NFL Playoff teams from a year ago, whether due to a draft class or added veteran free agents, are just as optimistic over the hope that this will be their year.

History is on the side of optimism, at least for those teams that were shut out of the NFL playoffs in the previous year. The LA Rams failed to make the NFL Playoffs in 2019, but did so in 2020. One year later, in 2021, the Rams claimed the Lombardi Trophy. Curiously, the Rams did so with a phenomenally effective passing game.

So where was the Rams' running offense over the past two seasons? We believe that although the Rams did not balance the offense out by committing to the running game in the past, the current state of the Rams team will force the team to commit to the run in the 2023 NFL season. And that means that the Rams will need to improve running rapidly.

The LA Rams are not exactly known as a ground-and-pound offense any longer. There was once a time in NFL history when the Rams were truly committed to the running game. It was such a common experience that former Rams head coach Chuck Knox became known as 'Ground Chuck,' as a play on words to his unshakeable commitment to the running game on offense.

Rams could commit to run in 2023

Still, if early indications are accurate, the Rams have taken significant steps to improve running the football. From the moment that the team hired Mike LaFleur to become the new offensive coordinator, the offense has, at a minimum, shown new respect for running the football. Now the question is: Who will run the football for the LA Rams?

The Rams have a very accomplished and dynamic group, From veteran RB Cam Akers and Sony Michel, to second year RB Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rives, to rookie RB Zach Evans. While I am less inclined to believe that Zach Evans will get enough offensive snaps to any sort of material contribution to the Rams offense this year, there are other opinions on the subject. Draft Analyst Chad Reuter has some very kind things to say about Zach Evans and named Evans to his 2023 NFL Offensive All-Rookie Team projections. Shockingly, it was Evans, and not interior offensive lineman Steve Avilla, who was the lone LA Rams rookie nominated for future honors.

Can Zach Evans shock the NFL?

Can Evans leapfrog so many established runners on the Rams roster? After all, we know that the Rams loved the way Cam Akers finished out the 2022 NFL season, We know that the Rams made it a point to sign FA Sony Michel. And we have heard the praises about Kyren Williams for the past 12 months. Does Zach Evans have a chance of seeing playing time?

I think so, yes. But not right out of the gate. After all, the Rams offense is still exploring, finding ways to show up on game day. Under those circumstances, I expect the Rams will want to control as many personnel variables as possible. That means that the team will likely stick to a tight rotation of no more than two runners.

But over time, players get dinged up. At about the mid-season mark, I believe that the Rams will promote Zach Evans to some level of rotational work. If he grounds out huge chunks of yardage, well the Rams may never look back.

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While I believe that Zach Evans shocking the NFL is unlikely in 2023, I would not rule it out completely. One of the Rams running backs are due for a huge season. Who that might be is anybody's guess. What are your thoughts?