LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Rams went into the 2020 NFL Draft with seven picks and a quite a few needs on both sides of the ball. The list included wide receiver (with the departure of Brandin Cooks), running back (with the exit of Todd Gurley), and line on offense and safety and linebacker on the defense. Coming out of the draft, the team can be cautiously optimistic.
The Rams did not have a first-round pick for the fourth straight year, after trading for cornerback Jalen Ramsey last fall. (They won’t have one next year either.) So general manager Les Snead and company were quiet Thursday evening, when most of the bigger names were coming off the board.
They made up for it Friday with two second-round and two third round picks. The Rams selected Florida St. running back Cam Akers with the 52nd pick. Akers gained 1,144 yards on the ground in his final season, and he did it the hard way — up the middle behind a suspect Seminoles line. He also remained productive on screens and short passes over the middle. Akers should capably split time in a backfield that already includes Macolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. In coach Sean McVay’s eyes, he “adds great value to the group, and that’s the way we’re looking at it right now.”
In a deep wide receiver class, the Rams added Van Jefferson out of Florida. Jefferson was considered among the best route-runners available, a skill prized in McVay’s offense. He hauled in 49 catches for 657 yards and six touchdowns in his final college season. The ex-Gator probably won’t start, but should be given an opportunity to contribute. According to McVay, “I think Van really provides the opportunity to play all three spots.”
The Rams looked to the other side of the ball in the third round, adding outside linebacker Terrell Lewis and safety Terrell Burgess. Pass rush became a concern this past offseason with Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews both. Lewis, out of Alabama, has injury concerns but proved capable of getting after the quarterback when healthy. Secondary turned into a primary concern as well when Eric Weddle retired. Burgess, a converted cornerback out of Utah, may see action his rookie year in nickel packages.
With their fourth-round pick, the Rams selected tight end Brycen Hopkins after trading back and adding two more seventh-round picks. The 6’5″ Hopkins out of Purdue caught 61 passes for 830 yards and seven touchdowns in his final season for the Boilermakers. His game progressed in college but still has enough holes that he poses little danger to starter Tyler Higbee.
The Rams added Ohio St. safety Jordan Fuller in the sixth round. Fuller, who tied for the team lead in tackles last season, could contribute on special teams. Seventh-round picks linebacker Clay Johnston and kicker Sam Sloman could as well.
Their first and only offensive-line pick came in the seventh round, when the team selected guard Tremayne Anchrum. This seems a little curious for a team that struggled in both run-blocking and pass protection. The aging Andrew Whitworth returns at left tackle, the rest of the line remains a work in progress. Who knows how Anchrum fits into the mostly young group?
As Snead told the team’s website, “we’ve been adding those players, and fortunately or unfortunately a lot of them got to play last year, with David Edwards and Bobby Evans in particular. They got a chance to play when we were really going to spend a year developing them as backups. We felt confident that if we continued grooming and developing these players, they’d have a chance to become a very solid offensive line.”
Aside from their nine draft picks, the Rams have agreed to terms with 20 undrafted free agents.
Here’s the complete list of draft picks:
RB Cam Akers (52)
WR Van Jefferson (57)
OLB Terrell Lewis (84)
Safety Terrell Burgess (104)
TE Brycen Hopkins (136)
S Jordan Fuller (199)
LB Clay Johnston (234)
K Sam Sloman (248)
G Tremayne Anchrum (250)