The other day, I was reflecting on how many Rams put together career years in 2021 on their way to a championship.
Cooper Kupp, Rob Havenstein, and Brian Allen came to mind on offense. A straightforward case can be made that Matthew Stafford's debut season as a Ram was also the best of his 13 years.
Jalen Ramsey, Greg Gaines, and Nick Scott were leading candidates on defense. While Matt Gayand Brandon Powell achieved in the kicking game.
A range of contributors – from All-Pros to practice squad signees – had to step up in indelible ways. Those mentioned above demonstrated sustained success for large stretches of the season. But as we all witnessed, there were also breakout moments for Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins, David Long Jr., Travin Howard, and so many others.
As the Rams pause for the summer and set their sights on training camp, the question for this time of year becomes: Who's next?
Which deep draft pick is poised to become the next Jordan Fuller? Or Sebastian Joseph-Day?
Which returning starter can take a Kupp-like step toward stardom?
In celebration of Los Angeles wide receiver Cooper Kupp's birthday, take a look through the best photos of his Triple Crown, NFL Offensive Player of the Year & Super Bowl MVP-winning season.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll attempt to identify a candidate in each tier of the roster, from rookies all the way up to the pool of veterans. Because for the Rams to repeat, they'll absolutely need breakout performances and career years.
For some individuals, that might entail statistical achievements beyond what they've demonstrated to this point. For others, it could simply mean winning a starting job and bringing certainty to the depth chart where there is currently some doubt.
We'll begin the series with the Draft Class of 2022, even though it's inherently the least predictable – no one from the group has even participated in a padded practice, after all.
Drafted Candidates: OG Logan Bruss, CB Cobie Durant, RB Kyren Williams, DB Quentin Lake, DB Derion Kendrick, OLB Daniel Hardy, DB Russ Yeast, OT AJ Arcuri
The Favorite: Logan Bruss
Not only was Bruss the first selection of this class and the only Day Two pick, but head coach Sean McVay essentially penciled him in as the starter at right guard that same night. In that context, he becomes the most obvious selection of this entire exercise. There are other options to replace Austin Corbett, but the best-case scenario is that Bruss is ready to roll against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, September 8.
One to Watch: P Cameron Dicker
Here in June, the only other rookie that I could currently envision having a Bruss-sized impact on the upcoming season would be a college free agent competing for the right to fill Johnny Hekker's shoes. If Dicker were to beat out veteran punter Riley Dixon, then he would figure to be the second rookie to secure a starting role going into the 2022 campaign.
Up next: We'll examine the Class of 2021.