Rookie role analysis: Scott could play key role on special teams

A seventh-round pick out of Penn State, Nick Scott's official position is listed as safety. But the Rams undoubtedly selected him at No. 243 overall for his special teams skills.

As an important unit that has a high turnover rate simply given the nature of the NFL, Scott has a chance to be a key member of Los Angeles' special teams group for the next few years.

The Los Angeles Rams selected Penn State defensive back Nick Scott with the 243rd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

OUTLOOK AT THE POSITION

At safety, the Rams have veterans in Eric Weddle and John Johnson III headlining the position as the starting free and strong safeties, respectively. Entering his fourth pro season, Marqui Christian slots in as one of the club's reserves at the position. And second-round pick Taylor Rapp out of Washington appears poised to play a role on the defense in certain packages.

But as it relates to Scott, special teams is likely more important — and that's where there could be a void to fill. Los Angeles brought back linebacker Bryce Hager earlier this week, an important signing as he led the team by playing 80 percent of the special teams snaps in 2018. Christian was No. 2 on that list, playing 76 percent of the STs reps.

But safety Blake Countess was No. 3, and he was on the field for 75 percent of Los Angeles' special teams snaps in 2018. The Rams waived Countess on May 2, and the Eagles — the team that drafted him — claimed him on May 3.

POTENTIAL ROLE AS A ROOKIE

That leads us to Scott, who, according to general manager Les Snead, was one of special teams coordinator John "Bones" Fassel's favorite special teams players that he's ever graded in a draft process.

Based on that and the role that's opened on the unit, Scott seems like a surefire bet to be a heavy contributor to special teams early and often.

"Coach Fassel, the special teams coordinator, he was the first actual coach that I heard from during this process," Scott told L.A. media just after he was drafted. "I was training down in Florida and the Combine was being aired on television, and he was the first coach that called me while he was at the Combine. He said, 'Hey Nick, I'm looking at your film and I'm extremely surprised that you're not here right now.' And we've been in contact ever since then. He told me he was going draft me and he kept his word. So, I'm looking forward to not only being a huge part of his special teams, but contributing to that defense."

Scott was a two-time special teams captain at Penn State, which is likely a big part of why Fassel liked him in the first place.

"I've played on the core four — all of them," Scott said of where he played on special teams. "Kickoff, kickoff return. I was a returner for a couple of years. I was on kickoff coverage. I was on punt. I was a gunner on punt, a guard on punt, and I've also been on punt return."

Don't be surprised to see him on all four for the Rams in 2019 as well.

WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE

For low draft picks or college free agents, special teams is often the best way to acclimate to the league before then moving to the defensive unit.

We've seen it in recent years with a few notable players who started on Fassel's special teams unit and then have bloomed into strong starters in the league. Former Ram and current Eagle Rodney McLeod is one prime example, as he began his career on special teams as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia but has since blossomed into one of the league's better safeties.

Another is current Rams defense signal-caller Cory Littleton, who was the L.A. team rookie of the year in 2016 as a heavy special teams contributor after earning a spot on the club as a UDFA out of Washington. And while Littleton has continued to block punts on special teams, he's also become a key member of the Rams' defense as its middle linebacker.

So if Scott can be productive on special teams, there's plenty of reason to believe he can eventually transition to a larger role on defense.

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