In this series we take a look at 14 players for the Los Angeles Rams 25 years old or younger and who could be considered foundational or impact players.
Player: WR/returner Nsimba Webster
The skinny: Signed as an undrafted rookie out of Eastern Washington by the Rams in 2019, Webster is in his third season with the Rams. He served as L.A.’s main punt and kick returner last season. Webster also was the Rams’ sixth receiver on game days and a core special teams player.
Reason for optimism: Webster flashed playmaking ability at times last season. He averaged 7.4 yards per punt return with a long of 34 yards against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter that put the Rams in position to tie the game. He finished with 15 fair catches in 2020. Webster averaged 21.7 per kick return with a long of 30 yards during the regular season, but had a 38-year kick return against the Seahawks in the playoffs. Webster also led the Rams with 10 combined tackles on special teams during the regular season. He should compete for time as a receiver on the back end of the roster.
Reason for concern: There’s no getting past Webster’s questionable decision making at times and three fumbles on returns last season, including one recovered by the Arizona Cardinals. Ball security for L.A.’s returners was an issue all year, and something new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis will have to fix during the offseason.
However, while getting more out of the return game will be a point of emphasis for the Rams, DeCamillis did not rule out the possibility that his return man is already on the roster. DeCamillis worked with Ray Calais during his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Having watched Calais during practice last season, I see him more as a kick returner than punt returner. The Rams should give Webster another shot at the punt return gig.
“One of the things that you got to really evaluate as much as anything is the better the blocking schemes are, and the better holes you have to run through, the better the return is going to be,” DeCamillis said during his introductory press conference. “Now, where you get special is when it's a guy that has Devin Hester type-ability. Those types of things, that’s where you can really become special. But, we’ve got to make sure that we get the holes open at the start and then hopefully we can get the right guy back there and it might be the right guy that we have right now. He's a young guy and hopefully we can get him up to speed and get him a little bit better than he was last year.”