Now that the Los Angeles Rams have solidified their coaching staff with additions and realignments, the next logical move would be to find them some athletically gifted prospects on which to ply their trade.
When the draft rolls around the Rams will have to wait, barring any major trades, until the top 100 players are off the board. So, in theory, all of LA’s picks will be developmental players. But what we want to look at today are players that need more than a little polishing up around the edges. Players that show upside traits but will need a year of seasoning before being of value to the team and could be easily stashed on the practice squad, if need be.
WR Jalen Virgil - Appalachian State
Imagine if the Rams could acquire a receiver with true sprinter’s speed, good open-field moves, strength to break tackles, and a history of big plays on special teams. All at a round 7/undrafted price point. Virgil fills the bill.
He’s a four-time Feldman’s Freaks selection, has 10.3 100 meter and 4.27 clockings to his credit, and has averaged nearly 30 yards per kick off return. Virgil is not a diminutive speedster. He measurements in at the 2022 Hula Bowl were 6’ 211 lbs., 10’ hands, 32 1/4” arms and a 75 3/4” wingspan. He’s an aggressive player who was a willing blocker in Appy State’s run-heavy, zone based RPO schemes.
LA Rams wide receiver coach Eric Yarber will have his hand full in developing Virgil. He has shown improvement catching the ball with his hands, away from his body over his college years, but still needs to be more consistent. His limited route tree, expected because of his explosive speed, consisted mostly of deep patterns that helped to clear out underneath for the team’s short. quick passing game. Not a full-time starter, but an offensive rotation piece on a talented, successful team that had a 52-13 record during his time there.
Overall, Virgil is a low risk/high reward prospect. If he can improve on technique and transfer his athletic ability to the pro game, he could add another weapon to the Rams arsenal, a true deep threat. Many players have carved out a nice NFL career on special teams, Virgil has shown he is a missile on kickoff returns and has the attributes, speed and aggressiveness to be a downfield gunner on coverage.
Jalen Virgil WR 2022 App State:— bigWRguy (@bigWRguy) May 8, 2021
Ranked 3rd overall on Feldman’s Freak List last season
6'1' 205, 10.29 100m, 40.5 vert, 131 broad, 600lb squat
Elite level athleticism, but very low production. I could see a team taking him on day 3 of the draft and using him like Cordarrelle. pic.twitter.com/W5QnixGYWm
TE Lucas Krull - Pittsburg
Another 2021 Feldman’s Freak’s list member. Krull is a huge, long athletic specimen who has shown flashes of being a star at the NFL level. There are a lot of draft mocks that mention his name as a sixth or seventh round selection and he would be a fine addition for the Rams at that tier.
Originally signed as a pitcher to play baseball at Arkansas, Krull struggled with control and transferred to a community college. The struggles continued and he decided to leave the diamond and play football, landing a tight end spotspot on the Florida Gators. At Florida he was behind breakout star Kyle Pitts, limited to blocking situations and special teams. He only caught nine passes over two seasons and looked to transfer for more playing time.
Krull moved on to Pittsburg as a graduate transfer and got off to a slow start, injuring his knee and playing only one game in 2020. Last season started with him being named to Mackey Award watch list. (Top tight end in the nation). He finally broke through and collected 38 passes for 451 yards and six touchdowns. Modest stats indeed, so why does he project to the NFL, and particularly, the LA Rams?
First and foremost, he has the prototypical size and athleticism for today’s pro game. Measured at the 2022 East-West Shrine game, Krull stands 6’ 6”, weighs 254 lbs, has 33 1/2 “ arms, and an 81 1/2” wingspan. At Pitt, he lined up as both receiver and blocker outside in the slot, in-line, and as blocking h-back. He was regularly tasked to take on defensive ends and showed the physicality to set and lock up the edge. He shows good, soft hands and hand/eye coordination, enough speed to attack the seam and toughness to catch in traffic.
Krull needs development, he’s only three years into real football and has to upgrade his strength work. The transition from baseball to football training and conditioning is night and day. Building up his core and lower body will enhance his progression of handling the speed and power of NFL defenders. Technique work will help build a stronger punch, tighter into the opponents chest, and getting his arms extended allowing him to use that wingspan to lock up and seal off.
Prototype with strong hands both as a blocker and pass catcher headed to the @ShrineBowl @Lucas_Krull_ dominates slot defenders with positioning and physicality mid phase and will be a mismatch playmaker at the next level #HailtoPitt @graham_wilbert @CoachSchell_ https://t.co/q4bcrDIfaC pic.twitter.com/V6I7saHzSa— Shane Coughlin (@Shane__Coughlin) December 8, 2021
CB Julius Falk - Delta State
Division II All-American with the size and skillset to transition to safety at the pro level. At the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, he measured at 6’ 211 lbs, with 33 1/8” arms, and a 80 1/2” wingspan. Faulk is a stout, instinctual defender who has stellar ball skills and can play in both man and zone schemes.
In his two seasons at Delta St., Faulk had 68 tackles, 10 interceptions and 19 pass break ups. He projects well into the LA Rams high shell zone schemes. He backpedals pretty smoothly, but is strong reacting and moving forward. Keeps his eyes in the backfield and retains good position on receivers. Good timing attacking the ball on contested catches.
He plays a little flat-footed in man/press and will have to tighten that up against in the NFL, the speed and burst of pro receivers will blow right by him. With his physicality, he needs to improve on holding up wideouts at the line and redirecting out of routes.
Not a whole lot of film on Faulk, he only played two seasons at Delta State and COVID-19 cancelled 2020. But in what there is, opposing teams tend to run away from him. He is willing tackler, but will need to work on form at the next level. There are always going to be questions about the level of competition he played against and can his skills and athleticism compete with the NFL. His coaches say he‘s a hard worker and team leader.
As of today, Faulk would be working under Rams assistant secondary coach Jonathan Cooley and coaching fellow Lance Schulters to upgrade his game. LA has not yet named a replacement for secondary coach Ejiro Evero, who took the Defensive Coordinator’s job with the Denver Broncos.
Welcome aboard— The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl (@NFLPABowl) December 7, 2021
Defensive back Julius Faulk (@faulk_julius) out of @DeltaStateFB is the latest to commit to this year’s #NFLPABowl. Faulk made an impact for his team, including a season-high 7 tackles against West Georgia.
We’re excited to have you Julius!#Path2Pasadena pic.twitter.com/ul2jjwkwPL
Why should the Rams add these players?
LA’s top three receiving spots are locked, Jalen Virgil would be competing for WR#4 with returnees Tutu Atwell, Bennett Skowronek, and JJ Koski and any other signees. Atwell has the draft pedigree, but didn’t return kicks in college and there is no guarantee he will fit into that role. Skowronek took offensive snaps because of injury and was special teams stalwart. Koski got his big break to be LA’s return man but was shaky and put back on the shelf. Virgil would most likely be hard pressed to fit into the Rams offense right away, but his return skills and speed are undeniable.
Lucas Krull has the size, athleticism, and natural hands that cannot be taught. He is raw and relatively new to high-level football. With Tyler Higbee is locked in, Krull would battle current TE’s Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins, and Kyle Markway. Blanton and Hopkins were serviceable in small doses last season and may battle for TE#2, but their improvement has been incremental. Markway has been a camp body, bouncing between multiple teams. Krull’s biggest need is lower body strength and blocking technique grooming, but he comes out of a pro-style offense at Pitt and he could be real sleeper.
Pro Day will be very important for Julius Faulk. If he tests well, that would be huge in his attempt to step up in class. Versatility between cornerback, safety, and special teams would go a long way to narrowing his competition gap. Last year, the Rams took a leap on DII edge Chris Garrett, who joined Faulk on the 2019 All-American team.
During the Les Snead/Sean McVay regime, the Rams have selected 18 players in the sixth and seventh rounds of the NFL Draft. Only three, FB Sam Rogers , OLB Dakota Allen and ILB Clay Johnston didn’t stick with LA for their rookie season. Whomever they decide to select, the Rams have a history of adding developmental players late in the draft and are willing to give them the grooming time they need.