Sam Sloman Jersey

After losing Greg Zuerlein to the Cowboys in free agency, the Los Angeles Rams took a little time to find a potential replacement. And then on the same day, they agreed to terms with two kickers from different leagues: Lirim Harjullahu of the CFL and Austin MacGinnis of the XFL.

But it’s possible neither of them actually replaces Greg Zuerlein. The Rams still have the draft as a chance to add another kicker, and it seems they’re showing interest in one of the top prospects in the class.

According to Justin Melo of Draft Wire, the Rams are showing interest in Miami (Ohio) kicker Sam Sloman.

In his career at Miami, Sloman made 49 of his 62 field goal attempts, a rate of 79%. He also made 112 of his 115 extra-point tries (97.4%). Last season was by far his best year, making 86.7& of his FG attempts, including an impressive 11-for-14 rate from beyond 40 yards.

The Rams have emphasized the importance of a kicker’s accuracy from 40-49 yards after Zuerlein went just 5-for-11 last year, and Sloman was 12-for-15 in his career from that range.

Jordan Fuller Jersey

Jordan Fuller was more than just a muti-year captain and starter for the Ohio State secondary.

He was the eraser. If a running back leaked through into the secondary, Fuller was there to make the play. If a slant route could have gone the distance, Fuller made sure that didn’t happen with a saving tackle.

Now, he’s off to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL, and the task to replace his production on the field and leadership in the locker room won’t be easy. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Fuller has some suggestions on who could be the perfect fit to take over his spot.

“I would say at safety, definitely Josh Proctor and Marcus Hooker,” Fuller said during his NFL Combine interview. “My boy Bryson Shaw is definitely gonna turn some heads, too. Really, there’s so much talent in the room, I can’t even quantify it. But I would say, whoever’s able to lock in the most into their job and to sacrifice the most for the team is gonna make the biggest impact… I’m telling you, there’s a lot of talent.”

Ohio State is always going to have talent, but can those guys be the ones to replace Fuller? Lettermen Row is exploring all options and making a pick as to who will be the next Ohio State starting safety.
Ohio State options

Josh Proctor: There’s been plenty of hyping up Josh Proctor, who has become a trendy pick to truly break out on an Ohio State defense that once again should be loaded with talent. Proctor was on the field for much of the Big Ten title game and Fiesta Bowl, but those were different kinds of appearances than being the full-time starting safety. Can Proctor finally become a superstar in the back end of the defense? This season might be his best shot.

Marcus Hooker: After taking a redshirt during his first season at Ohio State, Hooker began to work his way onto the field last year. He started all 14 games on special teams and saw defensive action in seven games. He showed up on the field later in the season, proving that he was steadily getting better as the year went on. It’s still to be determined whether he can be the true ballhawk his brother was a few years ago, but his chance is coming soon. Can he take the job Fuller had last year and make it his own?

Bryson Shaw: Only a three-star prospect out of high school, Shaw redshirted last season and saw the field in three games. He had tackles against both Maryland and Rutgers, gaining some experience in Big Ten games. He might not be a leading candidate to get the job, but his name was brought up by Fuller in February as somebody who should be on radar. That has to count for something.

Ronnie Hickman: Hickman is the wild card of the group because he was injured during his senior year of high school and was forced to take a redshirt last season. He wasn’t able to practice. Could he make a quick and surprising rise in the depth chart this fall? Possibly, but he hasn’t had the experience others in the room carry.

Kourt Williams: An early enrollee, Williams was supposed to go through his first spring camp with the Buckeyes and get a step ahead on everything in the program. But the shutdown has him sitting at home instead of in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Ohio State has more experienced options, so maybe Williams time will come down the road instead of this season. Or maybe he’ll surprise everyone and turn from a hybrid to a true safety and find a role.
The pick: Josh Proctor

Thought to be an option last year, Proctor became a regular within the Ohio State defense as the year went on, and it all built up to his bone-rattling hit of Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan on the final play of the Big Ten championship game.

Those kind of highlights could become a normal occurrence for Proctor, who draws praise from coaches and players.

“He’s one of the most talented individuals you’ll ever come across in my opinion, in a lot of people’s opinion,” Fuller said of Proctor. “Just how big he is, how long he is but the speed and agility that comes with it and his competitive nature is off-the-charts.

“Really can’t say enough about him and this year especially, he’s really focused a lot more on the playbook and I know that’s gonna keep going in an upper trend so yeah, Josh Proctor, I expect big things and I know he expects big things out of himself too. So I’m really excited for him.”

If Proctor continues to grind and improve, his untapped potential could be unleashed. And if that happens, the Ohio State defense will be able to replace Fuller without fear of a drop off from the safety spot.

Terrell Burgess Jersey

While there are some questioning the Rams’ decision to draft Cam Akers and Van Jefferson in the second round, no one is criticizing them for selecting Terrell Burgess in the third round at No. 104 overall. Many are actually praising the Rams for selecting the versatile defensive back at that point in the draft, calling him a steal in Round 3.

Burgess only has one year of starting experience, but his versatility is his best asset and something that will get him on the field right away as a rookie. Sean McVay has even said the ideal scenario is for Burgess to be the starting nickel corner.

Les Snead was thrilled to come away with the Utah safety at No. 104, praising his position flexibility after the draft.

“Really, really impressed with his versatility. Our special teams coach liked him, so he’s going to make an impact on game day for the Rams in many different ways,” he said.

Director of draft management JW Jordan also praised Burgess for his versatility, saying he can play just about any position in the secondary.

“He’s a guy that can basically play anywhere on the backend that you need him to,” Jordan said.

Burgess will still have to beat out players such as David Long and Darious Williams for a starting job, but he certainly has the talent to be a Day 1 starter for the Rams.

Terrell Lewis Jersey

Aaron Donald is one of the most dominant defensive players in the game today. He’s also among the league leaders in double-team percentage, constantly drawing an extra blocker his way.

Teams typically pay when they don’t double Donald, since he makes such quick work of individual blockers when rushing the passer. One way to help him get more one-on-one rushes is by finding a productive edge rusher as a complement.

The Rams had one in Dante Fowler Jr. the last season and a half, but he left to join the Falcons in free agency. Clay Matthews was also cut this offseason, too.

But in steps Terrell Lewis, who the Rams spent a third-round pick on this year. The promising pass rusher out of Alabama dealt with injuries during his college career, but if healthy, he can be an instant contributor for the Rams.

Having Donald on the same defensive line will help, but Lewis hopes he can provide some assistance for Donald, too.

“I know that I won’t be able to be double teamed and I’ll kind of take the pressure off of him. So, I think it’ll be something that we can both benefit off of, being able to contribute and help him, take a load off of him, and he take a load off of me,” Lewis said after the draft.

Lewis will first have to earn a starting job at outside linebacker. He’ll be competing with Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Samson Ebukam for the spot opposite presumed starter Leonard Floyd.

Lewis shouldn’t be ruled out as a Week 1 starter, but the altered offseason won’t do him any favors, either. The veterans on the roster have a leg-up on him already as a result.

Clay Johnston Jersey

Clay Johnston didn’t get much attention on the national landscape when the Los Angeles Rams drafted him in the seventh round. But among Rams fans and those close to the organization, there was a lot of excitement about the pick – in part because of the energy Johnston brought to the phone call after the Rams drafted him.

Johnston’s draft stock was hurt by the fact that he tore his ACL in October, but there are a lot of reasons to feel good about this selection. In just six games for Baylor last season, Johnston still had 58 tackles and 2.5 sacks, as well as eight tackles for loss and an interception. He was named second-team All-Big 12 despite missing most of the season, which is an indicator of how well he played in limited action.

Johnston may not be the fastest or most athletic linebacker, but he’s a smart player who’s great against the run. Two of Johnston’s biggest strengths, according to the linebacker himself, are his hit power and intelligence on the field.

“I think I can bring the punch if I get a good read on the play. I think I can bring some power when I hit someone, honestly, so I think that’s a decent trait,” Johnston said in a recent interview. “But I think I’m smart on the field, more than anything. I think with the help of coaches and them teaching me all the schematics, I think I can apply that – that would bear its fruit out on the field. I think that’s a strong trait of mine.”

Johnston only forced one fumble in his college career, but he’s like a heat-seeking missile in the middle of the field, showing good range and instincts after the snap. Take a look at some of these plays he made in just one game.

Johnston will first have to make the team before he can make an impact on defense, but with the Rams lacking proven talent at linebacker currently, Johnston has a great chance to be on the roster in Week 1.

As long as he’s healthy, Johnston will be a player to watch at linebacker in 2020.

Jonah Williams Jersey

The Bengals are now exiting the offseason after not making any wholesale changes to their offensive line. This has left many fans upset, but there is also reason for optimism at the position.

The headline for a positive outlook is finally getting 2019 first round offensive tackle Jonah Williams back healthy. He was the first offensive lineman taken in that draft, and he was expected to be the team’s starting left tackle from Day 1. There were even plans in place to have Cordy Glenn — a player the team had traded to fill that position the year before — to move inside to left guard. That is how much this team believed in Williams.

It turns out that Williams doesn’t have a lack of belief outside of the building either, as the greatest tackle in Bengals history (no offense to Andrew Whitworth) Anthony Munoz also thinks that Williams will fill a hole in Cincinnati’s offensive lineup.

“They’re young, but I’m excited about that,” Munoz told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “You’ll go through some growing pains, but I think eventually you’re going to be pretty good over there.”

Last year, Cincinnati seemed to try and patch an offensive line together early in the season. Williams was lost for the year early in training camp, and then the team lost Glenn to a concussion early in the season that lasted most of the year. That led to John Jerry — a career guard who had spent the previous year out of the league — along with Andre Smith trying to pick up the slack, which ended predictably bad.

Some fans may be concerned with trusting Williams with protecting the Bengals first-overall pick from this season, quarterback Joe Burrow. That is a concern that Munoz doesn’t think will apply to a player in Williams’ situation.

“He’s had a full year in the system. He knows the system. That’s an advantage. He’s not coming in cold,” Munoz said. “He’s in uncharted waters, no question. From what I hear he’s got an unbelievable work ethic. My advice is, ‘It’s your spot. Get after it like you were there last year. Continue with that work ethic. Believe in your technique.’”

Williams work ethic off the field is one of the reasons he was such a sought after prospect. Stories about him spending hours dissecting tendencies of opposing players and honing is craft are reminiscent of what you’d hear about the top players in the league. It is something that Bengals’ offensive line coach Jim Turner still lists as one of his best traits.

“I feel as good about Jonah Williams as I did the day we drafted him,” Turner said. “Just the character he brings. The work ethic. We’re 180 degrees from where we were last year there.”

…He’s not your typical rookie He knows the offense backwards and forwards. It’s like getting a guy after he has a mega minicamp.”

It really just feels like a matter of time before Williams hits the field and erases all doubt about whether he is the man who Cincinnati can rely on to protect Burrow’s blindside. Until then, it is very reassuring to know he has such talented people in his corner.

Tremayne Anchrum Jersey

1) “18 going on 28”

As Rams Director of College Scouting Brad Holmes was gathering information on Anchrum, one quote from one of his sources stood out among the rest about his background.

“One of the guys says that he was like 18 going on 28 when he first arrived there (at Clemson) as a freshman,” Holmes said on a Rams post-draft show. “I just thought that spoke volumes about his maturity and his intangibles.”

2) Los Angeles connection

Anchrum’s father played basketball for George Raveling at the University of Southern California and led the Trojans in rebounding as a sophomore and three-point shooting percentage as a junior.

“I guess the closest to Los Angeles I’ve been is standing next to his jersey that’s mounted downstairs in the basement,” Anchrum said on a video conference call with local media last month. “I have not been there many times, but I have been to California before.”

3) Winning background

Clemson reached the College Football Playoff National Championship in each of Anchrum’s final two seasons, defeating Alabama 44-16 in 2019 then falling to LSU 42-25 this year. Still, the Tigers went 55-4 overall in Anchrum’s four seasons, including a perfect 15-0 season punctuated by that 44-16 victory over the Crimson Tide.

4) Versatile prospect

After being a spot starter for Clemson his first two years, he became the team’s full-time starting right tackle for his last two years. However, he also spent time during Clemson’s postseason practices playing guard, which is where Holmes projects him to play on the Rams offensive line.

5) College coach spoke highly of him

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney called Anchrum “a very underrated guy in this draft,” also praising those same intangibles Holmes brought up.

“He’s incredibly smart, very athletic, strong, and has a great football I.Q.,” Swinney said in a statement posted to the program’s Twitter account. “He is another guy that’s going to change a locker room from a leadership standpoint.”

Brycen Hopkins Jersey

If when Brycen Hopkins was drafted by the LA Rams, and you heard that his dad was an NFL offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans, you may have said something like, “Who? Never heard of him.” There’ve been thousands of NFL players you’ve likely never heard of, so who can be blamed for not knowing of some second-string guard who toiled for a couple of years on a practice squad and then made a handful of starts for a basement feeding team? That would be understandable. If that’s what Brad Hopkins was for the Titans.

It’s not what he was. And Brad Hopkins is well aware that many people aren’t well aware of him. He knows who to blame for that too.

The Tennessee Titans.

“My accomplishments don’t seem to matter,” said the elder Hopkins a few years ago in an interview with The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Is he just “whining”? That’s what Hopkins figured people would think about him when he came out and said he felt “disrespected” and slapped in the face by the team he spent all 13 of his NFL seasons with. He wondered why he wasn’t in their Ring of Honor.

Reading his story, I wonder that too.

It is difficult to go back to find recruiting info on him now, but Brad Hopkins was born in South Carolina in 1990 and was a basketball/football star at Moline High School in Moline, Illinois. He played alongside power forward Acie Earl, a future first round pick of the Boston Celtics. On the football team, he played tight end and defensive line, but committed to play Illinois, where he would hone his skills as a tackle.

Entering Illinois in the 1990 season, Hopkins blocked for future No. 1-overall pick Jeff George and the 9-2 Illini. Following his freshman season, however, Hopkins cemented himself as a starter for the Illini and never relinquished the job. In his junior year, Hopkins was named All-Big Ten. His senior campaign saw him flourish in Orange and Blue. As an All-Big Ten and All-American, Hopkins went on to have one of the best careers on the Illinois offensive line.

Heading into the 1993 NFL Draft, the Houston Oilers were already a successful team, having won at least nine games in each of the previous six seasons. They had made the playoffs as a wild card in ‘92, losing to the Buffalo Bills 41-38 in overtime that year.

You may remember the score just after halftime: Oilers 35, Bills 3.

Perhaps anxious for redemption following “The Comeback” (which from Houston’s perspective, was more of “The Collapse Down”), the Oilers traded up from 19 to 13, sacrificing a third rounder for the jump. That draft saw Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer go 1-2, the PHOENIX Cardinals drafted a two-time Pro Bowl running back (Garrison Hearst) at three. The first Hall of Famer off the board was tackle Willie Roaf to the New Orleans Saints at eight, followed by the second two picks later when the LA Rams selected Jerome Bettis, another running back, at 10. Between them was a three-time Pro Bowl tackle in Lincoln Kennedy going to the Atlanta Falcons, and the Oilers must have felt the pressure to make a move now.

They moved up and picked Hopkins out of Illinois to be the blindside protector of 37-year-old Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon.

They spent one season together and in 1994, the team fired head coach Jack Pardee after a 1-9 start and promoted Jeff Fisher to interim head coach. Fisher is the last head coach that Hopkins would have over the rest of his career. The first pick in Oilers history with Fisher as the head coach: Steve McNair. One year later, they picked Eddie George.

McNair, George, Frank Wycheck. These are the names I think most people would say they remember from the mid-90s teams, just as the franchise re-located in 1997, two years before they would change their name to “Titans.” That was also the offseason that Brad Hopkins had a son. Named Brycen. March, 1997.

Hopkins started 11 games as a rookie and stayed there without missing a game until his sixth season in the league, when he missed three. Hopkins was essentially the only left tackle they had from 1993 to 2005, starting 188 games and only missing 14 games in his 13-year career. He made the Pro Bowl in 2000 and 2003. He blocked for George as he rushed for at least 1,294 yards in each of his first five seasons, and at least 939 in all eight seasons with the Titans. He blocked for Steve McNair during all three of his Pro Bowl appearances. He was the left tackle for a Super Bowl team.

You of course remember that Super Bowl team. At 13-3, perhaps one of the most “well-balanced” teams of the era in that they did a lot of things good and few things great. Jevon Kearse and Bruce Matthews may have been the only “stars” on the roster. In fact, it was that year that the Titans would in some small way answer for “The Comeback” with “The Music City Miracle.”

But one of the most important attributes in any player who agrees to smash bodies for money is availability. It is perhaps the greatest ability, they say. And while versatility is also important, so too can be consistency. I’ve rarely seen players who have careers this long, with this many starts on the offensive line, without moving positions.

He was overshadowed by Hall of Fame guard Bruce Matthews for most of his career, but Hopkins was with the Oilers/Titans for many great moments. He gave them a lot and expected more to come his way after going so far above and beyond what most teams should actually expect from their first round picks. He expected better from the Titans.

He’ll now hope that the Rams can do better for his son Brycen if he succeeds, just as they did better in that Super Bowl. (I do not mean to rub it in, Brad, but this is a Rams website you understand.)

Brycen Hopkins played at The Ensworth School in, you guessed it, Nashville, Tennessee. It is interesting to think about how the life of Brycen, and therefore many other people as a result of the ripple effect, would have gone differently if the Oilers had stayed in Houston. What high school would he have gone to then? Would he have chosen to play football sooner?

Clearly not intent on being quite as big as his dad, but perhaps with height and athletic gifts, Hopkins focused on basketball first. He began playing organized football as a junior and as a result, wasn’t heavily recruited. But because of his bloodline — not just name recognition but the size and athleticism — Hopkins couldn’t be totally off the national radar in spite of making only 11 catches as a senior. And it was his skills as a basketball player, not a football player, that eventually attracted Purdue to have him come play for them … as a football player.

Gerad Parker, the Boilermakers’ recruiting coordinator at the time and currently the interim head coach, told the Washington (Ind.) Times Herald he offered a scholarship after he watched Hopkins in a pick-up game.

“He drove the baseline and just ripped the rim off the hinges, almost,” Parker said. “I was like, there you go.”

Hopkins, the son of former Tennessee Titans tackle Brad Hopkins, only took up football as a high school junior. Therefore, he did not have a big reputation in recruiting circles. Rivals.com rated him a two-star prospect. 247 Sports saw him as a three-star prospect.

He ultimately drew interest from a number of schools. Florida made him an offer after he committed to Purdue but he stuck with his first choice.

Another alternate reality would be to think of what would have happened if Hopkins had chosen to go to a traditional powerhouse to spurn one of the worst programs in division-I at the time. Purdue had gone 1-11 in 2013 under first-year head coach Darrell Hazell, then 3-9 and 2-10 in the following two seasons.

Hopkins redshirted during that 2-10 season, then caught 10 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. Despite his lack of playing time, Hopkins finished second on the team in touchdown catches. His quarterback was David Blough, who you may remember as the QB who shockingly made five starts for the Detroit Lions last year when injuries struck the top two options. Blough was a fun story, but went 0-5.

He also threw 21 interceptions for Purdue in 2016.

The team mixed in Elijah Sindelar at QB in 2017 and improved to 7-6, the first year under new head coach Jeff Brohm. Hopkins caught 25 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns. The formula was mostly the same in 2018 and Hopkins improved to 34 catches, 583 yards, but only two scores. His 17.1 yards per catch average led the team and was third-best in the Big Ten after Terry McLaurin at Ohio State and K.J. Hamler at Penn State.

McLaurin had a fantastic rookie season and Hamler was the 46th overall pick this year. The Lions used the eighth overall pick on tight end T.J. Hockenson last year (to pair him with Blough, of course) and while there’s plenty that separates Hockenson from Hopkins, their 2018 campaigns in the Big Ten were statistically similar: 49 catches, 760 yards, 15.5 YPC, six touchdowns for Hockenson at Iowa.

While Brohm didn’t get the results he wanted in the W-L column last season (4-8), there were some individual successes. True freshman receiver David Bell made national headlines (86 catches, 1,035 yards), but somewhat in his shadow, Hopkins had done more than just catch up to what Hockenson had done a year before:

61 catches, 830 yards, seven touchdowns. For a 4-8 team with Jack Plummer (no relation to Jake, unfortunately) at QB, plus Aidan O’Connell, and Sindelar. The Boilermakers threw the ball a lot and Hopkins helped get them down the field a few times. He was name a co-captain. He had a 10-catch, 140-yard game against Maryland, most by a Purdue TE in either case since Tim Stratton in 2001 and Dustin Keller in 2007.

He had eight catches, 127 yards, and two touchdowns against Wisconsin. And eight for 142 and two more scores against Indiana.

Hopkins finished fifth in the Big Ten in receptions, 10th in receiving yards, and tied seventh in touchdowns. First among tight ends in all those categories. He was the Big Ten’s tight end of the year and a first-team All-American by several major publications. But he still had plenty left to prove during draft season, none of which may be bigger than his one-dimensional potential as a receiving tight end with a drops issue.

Not a minor red flag. But also not a typical prospect or athlete.

If not for a shocking time by the 258-pound Albert Okwuegbunam (4.49), Hopkins could have tied as the fastest tight end at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. At 6’5, 245 pounds, Hopkins ran a 4.66, same as the 248-pound Stephen Sullivan.

In the last 10 years, there’ve been some really good tight ends in the same height, weight, and 40-yard range as what Hopkins posted:

Tyler Eifert, 6’5, 250, 4.68
Dennis Pitta, 6’4, 245, 4.68
Hayden Hurst, 6’4, 250, 4.67
Mark Andrews, 6’5, 256, 4.67
Lance Kendricks, 6’3, 243, 4.65
Julius Thomas, 6’5, 246, 4.64

He’s faster than Rob Gronkowski (barely, and at 19 pounds lighter) and taller than Aaron Hernandez (by three inches, but roughly the same speed and weight) and this is a good way to get drafted. He’s got the size. He’s got the speed. He even had production. If you line him up against Andrews and compare their athleticism and college stats, you won’t get much separation. Andrews was a third round pick, Hopkins is a fourth round pick. It’s all there. But there are also plenty of names who I didn’t mention on that list of six names above.

From DraftWire:

Hopkins is an athletic receiving tight end with the potential to be a high-volume ‘U’ tight end at the next level. While he’s a work in progress as a blocker, his speed, body control and route-running abilities should see him be high in command in a class that doesn’t have a lot of top-end talent at his position.

Weaknesses

For all the upside that Hopkins brings as a pass-catcher, he still needs to get better as a blocker. His pad level could use some work, as he isn’t great at sinking his hips into contact and staying low when engaged with a defender. His grip strength is decent at best, and he doesn’t have the nastiest of edges as a run blocker.

Drops have also been an issue Hopkins has dealt with from time to time. His film has a handful of double-catches in it, as well as just straight up drops. If he wants to make it into that upper echelon of tight ends in the NFL, then he will have to work on his hands a bit.

From The Draft Network:

NFL COMP – Jared Cook

While his hands must become more consistent, Hopkins profiles nicely as a receiving threat at the next level. His route running skills are advanced and he has excellent ball skills. While he lacks the mass and power to be an impact blocker, Hopkins demonstrates great effort and brings the fight on every rep. Hopkins does have the upside to start in the NFL and at a minimum should be a quality No. 2 option that thrives in 12 personnel sets.

From another writer at The Draft Network:

NFL Comparison: Vance McDonald

Summary: Brycen Hopkins is a Day 2 candidate for a team looking for a primary target at the TE position who can create explosive plays up the seam or after the catch. Hopkins’ ability to create mismatches against base defenses will be attractive to NFL teams looking for more receiving juice from the tight end position, and his athleticism illustrates a high NFL ceiling as a receiver — but he underwhelms as a blocker, which limits how many snaps he can take early, and inconsistent hands could leave him a bit disappointing as a high-volume target. Hopkins will contribute in Year 1 and can become an impact starter by Year 2 as teams figure out his best usage.

Needing a blocker perhaps more than anything else, the LA Rams selected a player who does almost literally “anything else.” With the 136th pick of the 2020 draft, the Rams selected Hopkins to become their TE3 next season and the eventual replacement for Gerald Everett when he becomes a free agent in 2021. Hopkins can use the time between then to become familiar with the offense, to get comfortable with Jared Goff as a passer, and to ask his under-appreciated father advice on how to improve as a blocker.

Though there aren’t many people pushing for any tight end in the class of 2020 to become a star, and Hopkins was taken after quite a few, many see a future with him as a starter. We just have to remember that not all starters, are stars. Or well known by other teams. Or well respected by other teams.

But they all hope to be respected by their teams, at least.

Van Jefferson Jersey

The Los Angeles Rams traded Brandin Cooks this offseason to the Houston Texans. Is 2020 NFL Draft pick Van Jefferson an upgrade as a rookie?

The Los Angeles Rams, fresh off of a very disappointing 9-7 third-place finish in the NFC West, had a little bit of a purge in the 2020 offseason.

In fact, the Rams are low-key one of the most different looking teams in the NFL compared to last year.

Literally.

The Rams changed uniforms. They swapped out defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for a Vic Fangio disciple in Brandon Staley. They even released Todd Gurley…

Among all of the major changes the Rams made to their coaching and player roster was the trade of wide receiver Brandin Cooks, apparently one of the most desirable players in the NFL but also one of the easiest to trade.

Cooks is only entering his age 27 season in the NFL but he’s already playing for his fourth team, and he’s already got over 1,000 yards for each of his first three teams. He has twice been traded for first-round picks, and this time around, the Rams got a second-round pick for him.

Only one player in NFL history (modern history, at least) has been traded more times than Cooks, and that’s former running back Eric Dickerson, who was traded four times.

The Rams shipped Cooks off to the Houston Texans and with the selection they received (57th overall) they took Florida’s Van Jefferson.

Jefferson is an NFL legacy player, the son of former pro receiver Shawn Jefferson who is currently the receivers coach with the New York Jets. Because of the Jets’ desperate need for receivers, it seemed obvious they would take Jefferson’s kid, but it never happened.

The Rams made a direct trade — Cooks for Jefferson. Was it an upgrade?

Despite the fact that Cooks has been an effective playmaker in his six NFL seasons, his catch percentage has consistently been under 70 percent since his rookie year in New Orleans, and the Rams needed a player who could provide more than just a vertical threat.

Cooks has been known in his time in the NFL for being a burner down the field, but certainly not for being much of a possession type of receiver.

In Jefferson, the Rams may have gotten a little bit of both.

While Jefferson wasn’t revered in the pre-draft process for his speed, he showed it off at the 2020 Senior Bowl.

That is a pretty surprising figure for Jefferson, who was more well-known in the pre-draft process for his route running than speed.

Jefferson enters into the NFL with a better understanding of how to handle multiple types of NFL-caliber coverage compared to other receivers coming out who are constantly facing off coverage. He is a man coverage beater who apparently can turn on the jets.

With Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods capable of handling the short-intermediate parts of the field as well, Jefferson should fit right in as a high-impact rookie with this Rams offense looking to bounce back from the 2019 season in which Jared Goff threw 16 interceptions.

As far as proven NFL experience, there’s no doubt the Houston Texans got the ‘sure thing’ in this trade, but the Rams may have upgraded their overall position group by adding a player whose skill set is much more versatile on the whole and who can also take the top off of a defense with long speed if need be.

Cam Akers Jersey

Running back wasn’t viewed as a need for the Los Angeles Rams entering this offseason with Todd Gurley, Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown all under contract already. However, that quickly changed in March when the Rams released Gurley, pushing running back toward the top of the team’s positional needs.

The Rams didn’t waste any time addressing that spot, selecting Cam Akers with their first pick (52nd overall) in the 2020 draft. Akers joins Henderson and Brown as part of the backfield committee, though the share of touches will be worked out closer to the start of the season – and even into the season.

Akers looks like he’ll be the top running back on the depth chart, with Henderson serving as a change-of-pace guy, which makes the rookie a promising prospect in fantasy football. According to Pro Football Focus, Akers is in the fifth-best situation among all rookie running backs.

From a workload standpoint, there’s nothing holding Akers back — there’s little talent at the position on the Rams’ roster and Sean McVay has obviously been willing to ride the position with Todd Gurley in recent years. The issue is the 31st-ranked offensive line that didn’t make a single addition before taking Clemson guard Tremayne Anchrum in the seventh round. It’s still going to be bad. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that Akers is used to that. He ran behind the fourth-lowest graded run-blocking line in the Power-5 last season.

Part of what the Rams liked about Akers was his experience running behind a bad offensive line at Florida State. Les Snead mentioned that it’s closer to what Akers will see in the NFL as opposed to some of the other backs who were given huge running lanes in college.

There are still concerns about the Rams’ offensive line and run blocking, but Akers should still have success as a rookie with all of the other weapons Los Angeles has on offense.