The Los Angeles Rams went into the 2020 NFL Draft with several needs to address after losing key contributors in the offseason.
Armed with seven picks heading into the draft, the Rams addressed the offense in the second round by selecting running back Cam Akers and wide receiver Van Jefferson. Then in the third, they began to fill out the defense by taking outside linebacker Terrell Lewis and defensive back Terrell Burgess.
After taking tight end Brycen Hopkins and safety Jordan Fuller to begin Day 3, Los Angeles took a swing on Baylor linebacker Clay Johnston in the seventh round. It did not take long for Johnston to endear himself to Rams fans after videos of his excitement made their way to Twitter:
We're all ready to run through a door 😂 pic.twitter.com/RUoGcG77Vh
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) April 25, 2020
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) April 26, 2020
Son of longtime NFL strength coach Kent Johnston, the Baylor product was productive last season, racking up 58 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, five passes defensed, and one interception.
Johnston slid down draft boards after suffering a season-ending ACL tear in October, but also because he is not the fastest side-to-side linebacker. His lack of explosiveness caps what he will be able to do on defense, but his ability to make tackles and read routes does offer some potential upside if he can stay healthy.
Late round picks like Johnston often do not see much playing time, but his skillset could earn him a role on special teams. Micah Kiser, Travin Howard, Troy Reeder and Kenny Young figure to be the primary options at inside linebacker, but Johnston could potentially see time there in a pinch.
However, what can not be questioned is Johnston’s energy and fiery spirit, two things that will serve him well in his NFL career. While he may not contribute much right away, that type of personality and enthusiasm for the game of football should permeate through the locker room and help get the Rams back on track.