Last month, Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport completed an offseason exercise identifying every NFL team's most promising young building block heading into the 2020 season. For the Rams, Davenport's pick was fourth-year safety John Johnson III.
"Given all the personnel losses from the offseason, the Rams are going to need Johnson's help both in the box against the run and in pass coverage," Davenport wrote as part of his analysis. "He's shown he can do both at a Pro Bowl level."
Despite suffering a season-ending shoulder injury six weeks into Los Angeles' 2019 campaign, Johnson still produced 50 total tackles, two pass breakups and two interceptions prior to the setback. Collectively, the former Boston College standout has made 225 total tackles, 24 pass breakups and 7 interceptions through his first three years with the Rams.
Speaking with reporters during a video conference this spring, Johnson said he was at full strength before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and was "feeling great." He also has high expectations for himself and envisions taking on more of a leadership role in the secondary this upcoming season.
"Getting that secondary going, I'm the longest tenured guy in the defensive back room now," Johnson said. "So myself and Taylor Rapp, we've just got to stick together and build that room up."
According to Davenport, a building block was defined as "a young, inexpensive player on their rookie deal—the sort of player who won't cripple a salary cap. Also, a 'promising' building block has yet to realize their full potential, so we mostly stayed away from players who have been named to a Pro Bowl."
Davenport's complete breakdown on why he chose Johnson, as well as his picks for the other 31 NFL teams, can be read here.