The Rams play in one of the toughest conferences with the defending NFC Champs. Plus, they’re still recovering from their own Super Bowl shortcoming.
This 2020 NFL Draft they held multiple second and third round picks since trading away Brandin Cooks and Marcus Peters. They also cut players like Todd Gurley and they let Corey Littleton and Dante Fowler go in free agency.
Did these needs get addressed along with upgrades on the offensive line and secondary? Here’s how the Rams 2020 NFL Draft Class graded.
Round 2, No. 52: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
This pick is a solid B. Akers isn’t the best of the running backs at one particular part of the group. However, Akers brings a blend of size, athleticism and production to be a starting back. He is threat as a runner and passer too. It also makes sense as a team need since the Rams got rid of Todd Gurley this season.
The only surprising thing about this move is the Rams really liked Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. Those guys will have to find their roles around Akers like they did around Gurley. You could make an argument Akers went before some other backs like Dobbins but it’s really a matter of splitting hairs so Akers all-around skillet give him an edge.
Either way, Los Angeles could have splurged this pick on the offensive line. Akers might go higher in a dimension where the running back position is not devalued since he has the potential to be a feature back. He also knows how to play well despite bad line play.
Round 2, No. 57: Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
Another solid B grade here. Jefferson made himself some money after the Senior Bowl which was enough to make him the 12th receiver taken. He comes from a football pedigree as his dad played and coached in the league.
The Florida receiver has the size, speed and technique to play across the foundation. Jefferson never caught more than 700 receiving yards at Florida or Ole Miss. but some of that comes from the offense and quarterback play.
Receiver was clearly a need after trading away Brandin Cooks. Jefferson fits into the versatile and scrappy receivers they have and his speed should help replace some of the deep threat vacated by Cooks. L.A. could’ve went with Denzel Mims who is bigger and faster with a bigger ceiling but Jefferson is probably a more natural fit.
Round 3, No. 84: Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama
Lewis could easily be the highest achiever in this class if he’s healthy. The Rams also attacked another obvious need with this selection. Dante Fowler is out and they signed Leonard Floyd as a high ceiling replacement. They also have some other developmental rushers from the past few draft classes.
However, Lewis offers as much upside as anyone in the third round. The only reason he fell this far was injury concerns that held him to only 26 games at Alabama.
Still, Lewis offers the size and athleticism to be a hand down defensive lineman in multiple techniques as well as the explosiveness to be a standup end. He could develop into a nice starter for the Rams and he could be a rotational player immediately too. That makes this pick closer to an A than a B.
Round 3, No. 104: Terrell Burgess, S, Utah
Here is another pick in the B+ range. Burgess gives the Rams another versatile defensive back who can play safety or slot corner. He only started one season at Utah but has the traits to compete for some playing time in sub packages and special teams right away.
He’s a highly intelligent and competitive player from the lineage of Utah defensive backs. Burgess offers solid tackling, ball skills and swagger for the Rams. He could challenge Taylor Rapp for playing time right away.
Even if this is a bit higher than some of his draft grades indicate, it makes sense given the run on safeties after none were selected in the first round.
Round 4, No. 136: Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
Here’s another player with a high ceiling at a position of need who falls to the Rams at the perfect spot. Hopkins is the son of an NFL offensive lineman with the traits of starting tight end. He got better every year at Hopkins which is good news. Hopkins could push Gerald Everrett for playing time or fill in for any injuries.
Nonetheless, Hopkins started playing football in high school so he is still a work in progress as a blocker and pass catcher. He could be utilized as a flex tight end now but he could develop into more if he can get separation and develop as a blocker. Again, A value but not necessarily at their biggest position of need.
Round 6, No. 199: Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State
At this point, it’s about finding the players you can develop into your culture. Fuller is another productive collegiate prospect who could develop into a special teamer and contributor. There are questions about his speed but his size means he could play either safety spot like John Johnson on the roster now. He is also brings a lot of intangibles to the Rams locker room which is a great bonus. This is worth a B because they still have bigger needs.
Round 7, No. 234: Clay Johnston, ILB, Baylor
Another B grade for Los Angeles. Johnston brings the size and athleticism to compete at inside linebacker and on special teams. Knee issues cost him the end of his season but he brings the physicality and intangibles for his new coach Sean McVay to run through a wall to get him.
Round 7, No. 248: Sam Sloman, K, Miami (OH)
With Greg the Leg Gone the Rams draft a potential replacement who scored 259 points in college. Sloman made 25-of-30 field goal attempts and 34-of-35 extra points. B only because you never really know how Kickers will translate.
Round 7, No. 250: Tremayne Anchrum, OG, Clemson
Anchrum was a starting tackle at Clemson but probably has the size and frame to play guard in the NFL. He has the size and feet to be a solid pass protector and zone blocker. The Rams like linemen with versatility and solid resumes so Anchrum fits that profile. This is probably an A pick this late but they get a B for ignoring the offensive line this long.
Overall, the Rams wrapped up a good NFL Draft with players who were productive in college and could develop into starters at position of need.
This class deserves an initial B. It could easily get higher if these guys hit their ceilings. The only reason it’s really not higher is because of the lack of solutions for the offensive line.