David Rosenthal, CBS Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles rejoined the NFL after a 21-year absence when the Rams announced their return to the City of Angels last week.
Thousands of fans rejoiced, but with such a long drought of professional football in the Los Angeles, I can’t blame you if you aren’t totally familiar with the Rams’ current roster.
Here are the seven most exciting players to watch on the Rams for the 2016 season.
7.) Janoris Jenkins, CB
Jenkins was selected late in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Rams and has improved tremendously over his time in the NFL.
He has started no less than 13 games a season for the team since coming into the league and has collected at least 55 total tackles in each of his four seasons.
Jenkins set a career high with four interceptions as a rookie but did haul in three interceptions last season, as well as a career-high 15 pass deflections.
The 5-foot-10 defensive back is an unrestricted free agent, and hopefully the Rams front office looks to keep the exciting Jenkins on the team.
6.) James Laurinaitis, MLB
Also drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft, Laurinaitis has started every single game for the Rams since he’s been on the team.
He’s a stalwart at middle linebacker, and in 2015, collected his third season with over 100 or more tackles.
The 29-year old attended Ohio State before joining the Rams, and in his 112 career games in the NFL, has tallied 10 interceptions, 16.5 sacks and 653 total tackles.
5.) Trumaine Johnson, CB
Perhaps one of the most underrated players in the NFL, Trumaine Johnson has turned into a superstar cornerback.
After coming out of the University of Montana, Johnson was taken by the Rams in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Johnson is a ball-hawking corner who has greatly surpassed his expectations in the NFL.
With seven interceptions in 2015, Johnson trailed only the Bengals Reggie Nelson and the Chiefs Marcus Peters for the league-lead in interceptions.
Johnson had 17 pass deflections to go along with 71 tackles as he led the Rams secondary in 2015.
Like Jenkins, Johnson is an unrestricted free agent and should be the Rams’ main focus this off-season.
The team cannot afford to lose its top corner, especially one like Johnson, who is capable of making game-changing plays week in and week out.
4.) Robert Quinn, DE
The team’s first pick (14th overall) in the 2011 NFL draft, Robert Quinn is a critical member of the Rams’ impressive defensive front line.
Quinn sacked the quarterback 10.5 times in 2012, 19.0 times in 2013 and 10.5 times again in 2014.
He was forced to miss half the 2016 season due to a back injury but still managed to collect 5 sacks.
The 6-foot-4 Quinn is a two-time Pro-Bowler (2013, 2014), and finished second in the NFL in sacks and forced fumbles in the 2013 season.
When healthy, Quinn one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL and a force to be reckoned with.
I have a feeling when he returns from his back injury, he will be one of the most popular and dominant players on the team.
3.) Tavon Austin, WR
Tavon Austin is perhaps the most versatile player in the NFL.
The speedster lines up at wide receiver, running back and returns punts and kickoffs.
He set a career-high last season in catches (52), receiving yards (473) and receiving touchdowns (5).
Austin also set career marks for rushing attempts (52), rushing yards (434) and rushing touchdowns (4).
He also has a punt-return touchdown in each of his three seasons with the Rams.
A highly coveted talent out of West Virginia, it took Austin a year or two to adjust to the NFL, but it looks like the talented athlete has found his place.
Expect even bigger numbers from Austin next year, or as I like to call him, “The Triple Threat”
2.) Aaron Donald, DT
Donald, the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft, has looked like the first overall pick in the draft after his first seasons of play in the NFL.
Describing him as a man among boys doesn’t even do the big man justice.
The 6-foot, 287-pound defensive tackle has dominated the NFL.
In his rookie year, Donald tallied nine sacks, two forced fumbles and 37 total tackles, earning him a Pro Bowl selection and 2015 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award honors.
Last season, Donald tallied 11 sacks, one fumble recovery, 47 tackles and yet another Pro Bowl selection.
Donald’s play also earned him a spot on the NFL’s First-Team All-Pro this past season.
His 4.68 second 40-yard dash was an NFL-combine record for a defensive tackle.
Donald is already being compared to players like Ndamukong Suh and J.J. Watt.
If you’re looking for a Rams jersey to invest in, I would suggest buying Donald’s.
He will be around for a long, long time.
1.) Todd Gurley, RB
The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is probably someone you should have heard about if you are a fan of the NFL.
Todd Gurley quieted all the doubters after putting up an incredible rookie season in which he rushed for 1,106 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns.
He was also named to the Pro Bowl and was just the second rookie in Rams history to rush for over 1,000 yards while collecting at least 10 touchdowns.
Gurley amassed an NFL-record 566 yards in his first four games.
He was taken by the Rams with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, despite looming injury concerns.
Gurley left the University of Georgia after tearing his ACL toward the end of his junior year.
The Rams didn’t seem to mind the injury, and neither did Gurley, who launched himself into NFL stardom after his dazzling rookie season.
I know we haven’t even made it to this year’s election, but it’s never too early to campaign, right? Gurley-Donald 2020!
David Rosenthal is a web producer for CBS Los Angeles. David lives in Los Angeles and is a Dodgers, Kings, Lakers, and Rams fan. If you have any questions or comments for him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.