It wasn't just the act of selecting him in this year's draft that made Alabama outside linebacker Terrell Lewis feel wanted by the Rams.
"I knew me and the outside linebackers coach (Chris Shula) had a good relationship, from our meeting at the combine, us picking each others' brains and talking ball," Lewis said on a video conference Friday night. "He was stressing to me, 'Hey, we need a guy like you on our defense. We need an edge guy, and you've been in our system and know our system.'"
Shula got his man, as the Rams selected Lewis with the No. 84 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft. In return, Lewis wants to reward that confidence by making an immediate impact as a rookie.
"I think it's a high chance that I contribute to be a substantial player for the Rams defense," Lewis said.
Also listed as an edge rusher by experts, Lewis' selection addressed a positional need for the Rams created by the departure of Dante Fowler. The Rams already have outside linebackers Samson Ebukam, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Justin Lawler and Leonard Floyd on their roster, but it's possible Lewis cracks the rotation as a rookie.
"(Replacing Fowler is) definitely something you've got to live up to, but I don't have no problem with that," Lewis said. "I think, if anything, I'm just excited about the fact that I'm going to be a Ram, get to play along guys like (CB) Jalen Ramsey and (DT) Aaron Donald and guys like that and get in where I fit in and contribute as much as possible."
Lewis enjoyed a productive final college season in 2019 after suffering a season-ending torn-ACL in 2018 and an upper-arm injury which forced him to miss 10 games in 2017. The 2019 second team All-SEC selection said he's sure that history played a role in him lasting until the 84th pick, but he got selected nonetheless.
Teams asked him to demonstrate his health by getting an MRI on his knee and checking the mobility of his knee, and "from that point, everything was good."
"I'm in an organization and just getting off the phone with the Rams, they told me how much they believe in me and my abilities," Lewis said. "They can't wait to display it to every other team that passed up on me and I can't wait either. Just ready to get to work and make everybody else pay for the wait that they made me wait."
And he'll get to prove himself playing in a defense that features cornerback Jalen Ramsey and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
"I'm excited," Lewis said. "I'm just ready to get that work in and basically start this whole new journey, this whole new chapter in my life."