Give it time but I’m sure eventually a reporter or writer will use the headline “Fuller House” for a piece about LA Rams safety Jordan Fuller. All it takes is a reason for the public to be interested in Fuller and a writer to connect the dots between the name Fuller and a pop culture reference and there you have it — headlines.
Through three weeks of Rams training camp, Fuller is proving to have the potential of making headlines.
In her most recent report on LA’s camp, The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue notes that by her count, Fuller is getting the most reps of any defensive rookie. Offensively, that title may go to Van Jefferson (“Van Wilder: Rams Rookie Moves Ahead of Flyin’ Reynolds on Depth Chart”) or Cam Akers (“Green Akers: Rams RB Signs Contract, Receives Money, Which is Green by the Way”) but Fuller may not only be in a position for more playing time than third round linebacker Terrell Lewis, it sounds as though he could be in a position to outplay third round safety Terrell Burgess.
Fuller certainly appeared to earn more snaps than pretty much any other defensive rookie in the first week of padded practice. We didn’t get to see what happened in the onboarding days leading up to last week, but it’s safe to say Fuller has recorded at least three interceptions and a handful of pass breakups, first with the second-team defense, and now with the first team.
Something that seems especially notable and interesting: Teammates don’t seem to worry about Fuller when he’s on the field. McVay said he’s a really bright football player. Even the body language from teammates — which indicates Fuller is handling his own space — is telling.
That’s not to say that Burgess is having a bad first camp either.
Rams rookie safety Jordan Fuller just showed some closing SPEED to breakup a deep pass. The rookie safeties, including Terrell Burgess, have looked strong so far.— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) August 21, 2020
It’s not terribly uncommon to see a team draft two players at the same position and have the lower selection contribute more early or long term. Just last season, the Rams drafted tackles Bobby Evans and David Edwards in the third and fifth rounds respectively, but fifth rounder Edwards seems to be ahead of Evans on the depth chart. He also started more games and had more snaps.
In 2018, Les Snead picked up John Franklin-Myers in the fourth and Sebastian Joseph-Day in the sixth, with the latter being the 6’4 defensive lineman with a dash in his name who they’ve retained thus far and played more often. That same year, LA picked linebackers Micah Kiser and Travin Howard in the fifth and seventh rounds and as of Monday, they are projected to both start on the inside for the Rams.
Then of course are the times when Cooper Kupp (“Cooper-man Returns”)” goes before Josh Reynolds (“JoshKosh B’Gosh: Rams WR is Ready for his Christening as Starter”) and nobody disagrees with it short term or long term.
Of course, what Sean McVay and Snead really want to see is that they have leverage, wiggle room and insurance when it comes to pending free agent safety John Johnson. I’d assume there’s no scenario in which McVay and Snead would “prefer” to lose Johnson in 2021 but if they did — well, they just drafted two safeties. And if the lower-drafted of those safeties plays even better than Burgess, a player they’re excited about in large part because of his versatility anyway, then it gives the Rams more options moving forward.
Fuller’s also not opposed or incompatible to playing wherever he is needed.
As a recruit out of Old Tappan High School in 2016, Fuller was listed as the number two “athlete” in the nation behind Mecole Hardman, now a receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs who ran a 4.33 at the combine. Fuller’s time was not that fast (4.67) and he wasn’t a standout in any drills, but as a starter at Ohio State he was one of the leaders in a secondary that included first rounders Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette.
The Rams similarly don’t need Fuller to be the best player in a secondary with Jalen Ramsey and John Johnson, but they’re hoping to be able to plug these players depending on when and what is needed. Fuller has sounded comfortable with that, as noted in this piece from The LA Times just before camp:
Staley has indicated that in his hybrid 3-4 scheme, a premium will be placed on versatility. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is among the players Staley is expected to deploy in various roles.
Fuller said he was comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage as a run-stopper or in the back end of the defense.
“I consider myself very versatile,” he said, “So, really, plug me in anywhere and I’ll get the job done.”
With Johnson missing most of 2019 and Rapp missing a lot of practice right now as he recovers from an injury, the Rams are giving opportunities to their rookie safeties and seeing results ahead of and perhaps above expectations. Whether a player was drafted on day two or day three, whether he was taken by the same team after another player at the same position, regardless of the circumstances, all of these players get their chances. It seems as though when coaches need a play, or when they need a player, they’re turning to a rookie sixth round pick and asking if he can step in.
And Fuller responds:
“You got it, dude.”