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Cam Akers is the workhorse, but Rams could use short yardage RB

L.A.’s running backs can serve as engine of offense

Sean McVay enthusiastically praised Cam Akers has his team’s every-down back for the upcoming season after the Florida State product’s breakout year as a rookie in 2020.

“Cam hit his stride at the right moments,” McVay said. “You could see he’s always had a real and authentic confidence, but then as he’s getting more and more comfortable for the different ways that we were able to utilize him.

“I think he can come alive in the pass game. I think he can continue to play at a high level. Really, I think he's an every-down back. I think he's a special player.”

While the expectation is Akers will serve as the workhorse running back and Darrell Henderson Jr. will be used in more of a complementary role, the Rams still have to replace the void created when steady Malcolm Brown signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency.

Brown served as the experienced hand in the running back room and was effective on third downs in obvious passing situation because of his strength in pass protection. Brown also showed a nose for the end zone in goal line situations, finishing with five touchdowns on the year.

The Rams used Akers more down the backstretch of 2020 in the red zone, but they could still use a bullish running back to keep the overall carries for Akers down throughout the year so that he’s fresh for the postseason.

Los Angeles could also use a fullback. Gerald Everett mainly served that role for the Rams last season. And Johnny Mundt can also line up there in a pinch. But McVay could use another versatile H-back/fullback on the roster.

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Running backs currently on the roster

RB (4): Starter -- Cam Akers. Reserves -- Darrell Henderson Jr., Xavier Jones, Ray Calais.

Running backs to consider for the Rams

Round 2 (57)
Michael Carter, 5-8, 200, North Carolina

The skinny: A versatile athlete who finished with over 4,000 scrimmage yards and82 career receptions at Carolina. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry. Carter would be a good fit for the Rams because of his ability to run jet sweeps, catch the ball out of the backfield and line up in the slot.

Round 3 (88)
Javonte Williams, 5-10, 212, North Carolina
The skinny: Williams was a productive player for the Tar Heels, finishing with 399 carries for 2,297 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns. A tough runner with a nose for the end zone, Williams consistently broke tackles at the second level at North Carolina. He also finished with 50 receptions in the passing game.

Round 3 (103)
Jermar Jefferson, 5-10, 206, Oregon State
The skinny: Jefferson was the engine that drove Oregon State’s offense last season, finishing with 858 rushing yards (6.5 per carry) and seven touchdowns in six games. Jefferson has good vision and can grind out tough yards in-between the tackles.

Round 4 (141)
Kenneth Gainwell, 5-9, 200, Memphis
The skinny: Memphis used Gainwell similar to Antonio Gibson when he played for the Tigers. Gibson played well his rookie year in 2020 for the Washington Football Club. He finished with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage for the Tigers two years ago but opted out last season due to COVID-19.

Round 6 (209)
Ben Mason, 6-3, 246,
The skinny: A big, physical athlete, Mason played fullback in a pro-style system for the Wolverines and should be able to contribute on special teams.

Round 7 (252)
Kene Nwangwu, 6-1, 210, Iowa State
The skinny:
Totaled 744 career rushing yards in his career as mostly a backup for the Cyclones. However, Nwangwu can hit the home run with his electric speed. He was timed by some NFL scouts in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash at his pro day and has some ability as a kick returner.