This year’s crop of rookies from the draft has most Rams fans extremely excited for the future. With potential starters all across the board, there is bound to be one rookie that stands out among the rest and may have rookie of the year potential. So I’ll be recapping the scouting reports of the rookies that have the most potential for making the biggest impact.
Biggest Impact Player:
E.J. Gaines, cornerback
Scouting Report: Had a great year at Missouri, frequently shutting down receivers. His stock dropped because of his inability to participate at the combine, but looking at his tape you can’t help but wonder why his grade is so low. He’s great in man-to-man coverage, good hips and feet, knows how to utilize his hands, and has decent play recognition. He’ll move to slot if put on the Rams’ roster, but I believe that he has the potential to be the number one corner on the Rams scheme. He is the perfect fit for the Rams’ scheme, playing under an off-ball zone/man switch scheme at Missouri.
Why? This might surprise most of the readers by saying that a sixth-round pick might be the biggest rookie contributor, but look at the tape. Gaines is a perfect fit for the Rams’ zone scheme and has the potential to be a starter on day one. He’ll probably start out at slot for the Rams, but I believe that he can become the starting quarterback alongside Janoris Jenkins.
Aaron Donald, defensive tackle
Scouting Report: Donald is a defensive tackle that can come in right away and plug into the defensive line. He has great push off the line, can penetrate, quick off the snap, great at snapping long-arm blocks, and is very powerful. He has an array of pass-rushing moves that will be useful in third down situations and is stout when it comes to the run.
Why? Probably the best value pick from the draft, Donald is a phenomenal tackle that will fill in immediately as either the 3-tech or the 1. Donald is a great fit in the Rams’ defensive scheme and has the potential to have a Suh-esque rookie year because of the defensive line talent around him.
Lamarcus Joyner, free safety
Scouting Report: A rangy free safety with the agility of a corner, Joyner will become the center-fielding free safety that the Rams sorely need in the zone defense. Though he struggles with run support, I don’t find this to be a problem because the Rams have one of the best front sevens in all of football. At times, he has problems with play recognition and zone switches, but that’s a problem that’s prevalent with most college corners/safeties who haven’t played zone.
Why? I’m going to predict that Joyner will start day one as the starting free safety. He’s a rangy enough free safety to cover the center field on cover-one and won’t need to concentrate on run support because of the front seven. As a vast improvement at free, Joyner may have the potential for the best rookie year for a safety.