Originally published by RamsNewswire.com
After losing so many key players this offseason, the Los Angeles Rams will be relying on more young players than ever before, particularly on defense.
The Rams currently do no have a ton of depth at the linebacker position after losing Cory Littleton, Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews. The additions of Leonard Floyd and Terrell Lewis should help replace the production they’re losing on the edge, although it will be very tough to replace Littleton in the middle.
One option for the Rams is Clay Johnston, who they drafted in the seventh round out of Baylor. Johnston was originally expected to be drafted higher, although a torn ACL in his final college season lowered his stock a bit and the Rams were able to grab him in the final round.
New Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley is very high on Johnston’s skillset and attitude, but he is hoping he can get his knee healthy in time for the 2020 season, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
“He’s probably going to be known for his reaction to being drafted for now, but hopefully we’ll be getting him to playing some good football. But just the makeup, being a coach’s son, being part of that transformation of Baylor and that team becoming a national program, he’s an impressive guy to talk football with and hopefully we can get his knee healthy.”
Considering he is coming off the knee injury and doesn’t have any NFL experience, the Rams would be lucky to get some production on special teams out of Johnston in 2020 while hopefully developing him to be a future starting linebacker.
That leaves Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder and Kenny Young as the primary candidates to replace Littleton, which will be no easy task.
While the Rams don’t have strength at linebacker, they do have quality defensive linemen and defensive backs, so the hope is they can pick up the slack and L.A. can have a much-improved defense in 2020.
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