The Los Angeles Rams didn’t make a pick until the 61st selection in April’s draft, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t get a solid rookie class. The Rams ended up making eight picks, and they have a few guys with the potential to contribute right away.
The Rams start training camp practices next week, which will be the first real chance for the eight drafted guys as well as the UDFA class too make their impressions. Here are three rookies who could surprise with their performances in camp:
1. David Long
Despite being the Rams’ third pick in the draft, Long has flown a bit under the radar. The Los Angeles native excels in man coverage, and Pro Football Focus named him one of the biggest steals in the draft. Aqib Talib missed eight games last year with an ankle injury, and Marcus Peters was inconsistent at best.
Talib is 33 now, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to stay healthy. Long has a shot to earn the number three job with a strong camp, and he could turn heads with his coverage abilities.
Not only does Long have a chance to be an important part of the team’s future if Peters or Talib don’t return in 2020, he has the chance to play a real role as a rookie. If he wants to leapfrog Troy Hill, he’ll need to start with a good performance in camp.
2. Dakota Allen
Allen has also been flying under the radar. He’s a seventh-round pick, but he has skills that should translate pretty quickly to the NFL level, and he could impress in camp with his readiness. He started as a freshman at Texas Tech, so he has plenty of experience and will turn 24 in November.
Allen also plays inside linebacker, which is a position of need for the Rams. The team cut Mark Barron this offseason, and second-year player Micah Kiser is expected to take over for him opposite Cory Littleton.
Allen will have the opportunity to push Kiser in camp, and he was a very solid run defender in college. The Rams gave up the most yards per carry of any team in the league last year, so Allen will have an opportunity to shine, especially if Kiser falters. Allen was also a special teams standout at Texas Tech and if he can impress on John Fassel’s unit in camp he’ll greatly increase his chances of making the team.
3. Darrell Henderson
Henderson has gotten a lot more hype than Long or Allen, but nobody really knows what to expect from him either. Henderson will be one of the most closely watched players in camp, and he certainly won’t be lacking for opportunity.
The Rams are almost certainly going to take it easy with Todd Gurley, so Henderson could get the lion’s share of first-team reps in camp. As we saw with C.J. Anderson down the stretch last year, the Rams are open to using multiple running backs in large roles.
Henderson was electric at Memphis, so he should be able to put on a show in camp. In each of his last two college seasons, he averaged an absurd 8.9 yards per carry. Henderson is exactly the type of player who could have a breakout camp, and he’ll get plenty of chances to show off his playmaking ability.