Trade rumors are flying fast and furious with the NFL’s trade deadline set for November 1. The Los Angeles Rams are in competition with every team in the league, scrambling for a last shot at filling roster holes or at the very least, upgrading them.
One position L.A. could improve upon without giving up hardly any capital at all is running back. All it would take is an active roster spot and the league minimum salary. Maybe the best bang for for the buck would come from poaching a talented runner off another teams practice squad. And the Rams do need another running back.
While nothing is official as of yet, L.A. will have only Darrell Henderson and Malcom Brown available to tote the rock in Sunday’s huge matchup with the hated San Francisco 49ers. Ronnie Rivers will likely be elevated from the practice squad, but Cam Akers is still in limbo.
Kyren Williams and the Rams are teasing his return, although his recent injury history does not instill confidence that he can handle the workload. Brown has looked at step slow in his return and Rivers is a micro-back, even with the unit’s relative lack of NFL size. Henderson has ran hard, but has been nicked up in the past, as well.
Sean McVay says they may be able to start discussion about RB Kyren Williams’ 21-day return window after this week; indication is it’s a developing situation with his recovery but not a discussion for this specific week.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 24, 2022
There are good runners to had in the bargain bin, players that for whatever reason, have not been able to crack a lineup. The Rams don’t need a bellcow, they are in full committee mode. What they do need is another well-rounded back with a track record running in a zone scheme. A player with good vision, can catch out of the backfield, help a little in pass protection. Here are three players that fit that mold.
Kennedy Brooks- 5’ 10” 209 lbs. from the Philadelphia Eagles
A sneaky good back who is buried on a deep unit in Philly. He is not a freak athlete or a pounding bruiser and wins with vision, patience, and contact balance. Brooks has a gliding running style, with light feet, good pace, and a natural feel for cutbacks and angles. His ball security is excellent, he’s a willing, adequate blocker and while not an experienced receiver, he catches with his hands and has good hand/eye coordination.
After a stellar three year college career averaging 7.0 yards per carry and scoring 31 touchdowns, Brooks was signed in 2022 as an undrafted free agent. He dropped in the draft because of questions about his long speed and burst. He also had a 2019 run-in with authorities, accused and cleared with physical and mental abuse and sat out 2020 because of COVID-19.
He’s not a slug by any measure. At the NFL combine he ran a 4.59 forty, 7.03 3cone, and 4.40 shuttle. He leapt 10’ in the broad and a 31” vertical. His RAS score is 6.04, with his only excellence in the 10 and 20 yard splits in the forty yard dash.
When you watch his college film and then his few preseason reps, it’s a mirror. While his smooth style just doesn’t impress at the eye test level, he has consistently produced and no matter the level of competition, never looks out of his comfort zone. Kennedy Brooks is not a game breaker, but can run to daylight and move the sticks.
Darrynton Evans- 5’ 10” 203 lbs. from the Chicago Bears
Originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans at pick #93 of the third rounding 2020, Evans was limited by hamstring woes as rookie to 14 carries for 54 yards and two receptions for 27 yards and one touchdown. He also chipped in nine kickoff returns for 206 yards. A knee injury kept him shelved in 2021. Now he’s healthy and sits on the practice squad of the NFL’s top rushing team.
Evans reportedly had a pre-draft meeting with the Rams and his skillset would be a welcome addition. Burst, long speed and open field running are his strengths and he has heavy experience in the zone run game. He runs behind his pads and is stellar in ball security. He has very good hands as a receiver and can line up both outside and in the slot. When he was with the Titans, they cross trained him at wide out to get him more touches.
He blew up the NFL Combine with a 4.41 forty, 37” vertical, 10’ 5” broad and 20 reps on the bench. He has a 9.12 RAS score and was marked down only in composite size. Evans meets the athletic benchmarks, but doesn’t have success to show for it. Minor injuries have drug him down, but he’s only 24 and in college, he only had over 20 carries in five games during that three-year span. There is plenty of tread left on the tires and would give the Rams a homerun threat out of the backfield.
Jermar Jefferson- 5’ 10” 206 lbs. from the Detroit Lions
Drafted by the Detroit Lions at #257 of the 7th round in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jefferson has extensive experience in a zone run scheme and is solid in all facets of the running back skillset needs. He has a lot of good tape from both college and his short tenure as a a pro. Although many draft pundits had him as a top 10 running back prospect, it was a mediocre showing at the NFL Combine that that led to his plummeting down the draft board.
He ran a 4.60 forty, 7.39 3cone, and 4.39 shuttle. In the explosion drills, he recorded a 31” vertical, a 9’ 7” broad and 13 reps on the bench. He has a poor RAS score, 2.28. I cannot explain away those numbers, but Jefferson certainly looks much more athletic and faster on tape with stellar burst through tight spaces, long speed and loose hips to change direction on a dime. He was a high school sprinter in Los Angeles and on tape, actually looks to have genuine plus speed.
Jefferson has already shown flashes as a pro but is behind two very good backs in Detroit. In his limited action, the stage does not look to be too big for him and it appears that he’s ready for a bigger role. As a rookie, he recorded 74 rushing yards on 15 attempts with two touchdowns and chipped in four catches for another 23 yards.
He has vision, acceleration, and contact balance. Although not a big back, he brings a physical presence and finishers mentality. Building on his vision, Jefferson processes it quickly and has instinctual read-and-react ability. He hasn’t run a big route tree as a receiver, but looks to have good hands and catches with his hands.
What these players would bring to L.A.
These backs all have different styles, but have one thing in common, they can flat-out run the football. All three have zone experience, catch the football well, and don’t fumble. Each is buried in deep units and/or top rushing teams. They all possess a good risk vs. reward quotient. And best of all, the cost is next to nothing, whether on a one-year rental basis or for an extended stay in L.A.