The Los Angeles Rams drafted 14 players this year and every single one of them is getting a chance to compete for a meaningful role on the roster right away. That is especially true on defense as there isn’t a single player who should be guaranteed a starting role other than Aaron Donald, which makes for a fascinating test case for Donald’s 10th season in the NFL with the least experienced supporting cast around him ever.
Jobs at cornerback, safety, linebacker, edge, and along the defensive line are up for grabs. Offensively, the same is said at the skill positions and along the offensive line with only a few veterans there to hold onto spots.
How much will these rookies see the field in 2023? On a case by case basis, we know that the most true answer is “Who knows?” On a general basis, we also know that for sure the right answer is “These rookies are going to play and they’re going to play a lot.”
Still, I’m throwing out some educated guesses on how much each of these rookies will play just to give fans an idea of what to expect by position and from these prospects and then we can find out in six months how accurate these are and I’ll start writing my apology letters for what I got wrong. Just send me your P.O. Box.
This is how much playing time to expect from the 14 rookies.
Without mention: P Ethan Evans
There’s no great way to quantify playing time for a punter or kicker, so let’s just say that Evans has a great opportunity to win the job and he probably will.
Without mention: QB Stetson Bennett
Another tricky position to project but for entirely different reasons. In the ideal world for some fans, Matthew Stafford plays 100% of the snaps at Bennett never gets onto the field. In the ideal world for other fans, the Rams don’t put Stafford at risk and maybe try to find out what they have in Bennett and let him play behind this offensive line.
In any case, we can’t predict how many times Sean McVay will need to call on a quarterback this season who isn’t Stafford, but the odds are high that he will have to do it at some point. Not only because of Stafford and the state of the Rams, also because of the state of the NFL. Hardly any teams get through a season with just one quarterback and right now Bennett has a chance to be the next man up.
Now we’ll move onto the 12 drafted players at other positions.
G Steve Avila (36th overall)
Playing Time: 100%
It would be a disappointment if Avila didn’t win a job somewhere on the interior of the offensive line in Week 1, which should result in him getting in a full season barring injury. This is the easiest of all to project.
CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (182nd overall)
Playing Time: 80%+
By way of playing cornerback, Tomlinson has the inside track on potentially earning a job that sometimes carries 100% playing time snaps. He need only beat out one of the Robert Rochell, Cobie Durant, and Derion Kendrick trio to earn a job and to hold off the undrafted free agents and Tomlinson may the upside to be a starter (on this defense) right away.
OLB Byron Young (77th overall)
Playing Time: 70%+
As written over the weekend, there’s just nobody standing in Young’s way. Nobody.
DT Kobie Turner (89th overall)
Playing Time: 58% snaps
I’m going with exactly 58% of the snaps for Turner as the defensive line needs to be unloading these opportunities onto somebody and as a third round pick, he’s got as much upside as anyone left on the roster after Aaron Donald. Greg Gaines led the way with 68% of snaps at DT last season.
OLB Nick Hampton (161st overall)
Playing Time: 47%
Like Young, Hampton might end up getting a lot of playing time by default but I have him rated considerably behind him and not that far ahead of Ochaun Mathis.
RB Zach Evans (215th overall)
Playing Time: 45%+
If Cam Akers plays like he did for most of 2022, the Rams could give Evans an opportunity to start right away. Either way, the health of Akers and Kyren Williams will be in question and L.A. might like to find out if Evans is the steal that many suspect he was in the sixth round.
DE Ochaun Mathis (189th overall)
Playing Time: 30%
Mathis could eat up snaps just by being on the roster.
TE Davis Allen (175th overall)
Playing Time: 20%
I’m not going to get ahead of myself with Allen because McVay just hasn’t had any luck developing tight ends since Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett were on the team together. The last few shots haven’t helped and maybe Hunter Long beats out Allen. Last year, no tight end other than Higbee had more than 20% of the snaps, so this is very generous unless the Rams part with Higbee.