The Los Angeles Rams made another surprise move on Thursday when they released Terrell Lewis. Lewis, drafted out of Alabama in 2020, dealt with injuries and never lived up to his full potential. While he showed flashes, in three years, he had six sacks and one forced fumbles.
With limited draft capital and resources, it’s extremely important for the Rams to be able to hit on the draft picks that they do have. Over the last month, they have now released Darrell Henderson and Lewis who were both third round picks.
Looking at the Rams 2020 draft haul, they selected:
- RB Cam Akers - 52nd Overall Pick
- WR Van Jefferson - 57th Overall Pick
- OLB Terrell Lewis - 84th Overall Pick
- S Terrell Burgess - 104th Overall Pick
- TE Brycen Hopkins - 136th Overall Pick
- S Jordan Fuller - 199th Overall Pick
- LB Clay Johnston - 234th Overall Pick
- K Sam Sloman - 248th Overall Pick
- G Tremayne Anchrum - 250th Overall Pick
Out of these selections, four are no longer on the roster and none of them have necessarily been difference-makers.
Akers and Sean McVay had philosophical differences earlier this season. The only reason he’s still on the roster is because there wasn’t any interest from other teams at the trade deadline.
Burgess was cut earlier this season and Johnston and Sloman each didn’t last their rookie season on the Rams roster. The Rams had high hopes for Burgess, but opted to sign retired Eric Weddle during the playoff run last year over playing Burgess in a larger role. Sloman was signed as a Greg Zuerlein replacement, but didn’t make it eight games before the Rams brought in Matt Gay.
Drafted at 57th overall, the Rams would have expected Jefferson to be a compliment and WR2 next to Kupp. Right now, it’s hard to say that he’s more than a WR3 at this point in his career. There’s a reason the Rams went out and signed Allen Robinson in the offseason. Jefferson’s preseason injury certainly should be noted, but he’s taken a step back after a quiet 800 yard season in 2021.
Fuller has dealt with injuries the last two years after having an impressive rookie season in 2020. He had three interceptions and five passes defended as a rookie, but has just one interception and four passes defended since. It’s worth noting the injuries, but with a lack of resources and players like Burgess not working out, the depth hasn’t bee there.
Hopkins meanwhile had more receptions in the Super Bowl than he has all of this season. He’s been a special teams contributor, but hasn’t developed as a compliment tight end to Tyler Higbee. Anchrum has been in the building for three years, but just one snap into starting in Week 2 this year, he broke his fibula.
It’s hard to say that the Rams drafted an impact player in 2020. Again, with limited resources, those misses are felt even more. Everything is in hindsight now, but Joshua Uche at the time was a popular choice in Rams mock drafts.
The Rams could have had Uche over Akers or Jefferson. This season, the New England Patriots edge rusher has double-digit sacks and would be that compliment player on the edge that the Rams were hoping Lewis would be.
Josh Uche beats the tackle with a hesi and speed, gets the sack.— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) December 15, 2022
Next play, rips past the tackle and causes an INT
Bonus clip of him converting speed to power and running over the RT.
This dude is a star pic.twitter.com/WySJxga6Jd
Even a pairing of Uche and Jefferson at 52 and 57 would have been a draft haul that the Rams could have been happy with three years later. Alex Highsmith has found a consistent role with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a pass rusher and was selected with the 102nd overall pick.
Looking at the 2020 draft haul three years later and there are no impact starters. That’s the consequence of no first round pick. Still, there were players available that the Rams could have taken, but opted for other players instead.
The biggest mistake that most bring up over the last few years is Creed Humphrey over TuTu Atwell. However, passing on an edge like Uche for a running back when the Rams had just taken Henderson a year before is also a pretty big miss.
It seems unlikely at this point that any of the 2020 class signs a second contract with the Rams, especially considering nearly half of the class has already been cut. You can make a strong case that Akers nor Hopkins are on the roster next year.
The Rams certainly have gotten unlucky with injuries, but that’s a risk that they decided to take, especially when it comes to Lewis who had injury concerns coming out of college.
Going back, NFL.com ranked the Rams’ 2020 Draft haul as the 23rd ranked class in the league at the time with a B- grade. Given what we know now and everything that’s happened, it’s hard to give that class anything higher than a C-.
The last four drafts for the Rams have lacked that impact player and the 2020 draft is just the latest example. If the Rams are going to turn things around next year, they’ll need a stronger 2023 class in April.