Rams hope rookies can help quarterback Jared Goff elevate his game

The new players spied him watching from outside the weight room.

The offensive coordinator saw him there too.


Rams quarterback Jared Goff went through rookie indoctrination last year, after the Rams selected him No. 1 in the draft, so he could only observe the action on the practice fields during last weekend’s minicamp for this year’s draftees and free agents.

The two-day camp, conducted under the watchful eye of new coach Sean McVay and his staff, enabled the newcomers to get comfortable and demonstrate their talent.

But like just about everything surrounding the Rams, the subtext was all about Goff — and developing weapons that might help him live up to his billing as a franchise quarterback.

That’s why general manager Les Snead carried out McVay’s request to identify and draft specific players for his pass-oriented offense.

After about 50 players completed the final workout Saturday, McVay praised tight end Gerald Everett, receivers Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds, and fullback Sam Rogers.

While explaining how the rookies might fit, he did not mention Goff by name. But one comment spoke volumes.

"I think we want to be an offense that you give the quarterback answers," McVay said.

Right now, of course, there are only questions.

The most pressing: Can this staff elevate Goff's performance?

It's too soon to know whether the latest draftees can adequately fill roles that will enable Goff to develop into an efficient passer and perhaps help the Rams end a 13-year playoff drought.

They showed positive signs during the minicamp.

Kupp, in particular, stood out.

The all-time leading receiver in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision had arrived with a reputation for exacting preparation. And it seemed to pay off.

"He's still being Coop," said linebacker Samson Ebukam, Kupp's teammate at Eastern Washington. "He's still catching balls and making people look silly."


The 6-foot-3 Reynolds also impressed, separating from defensive backs on long routes. He gave McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur reason for optimism.

Consider: Rams receiver Tavon Austin is listed at 5-8, Robert Woods is an even 6-0 and Pharoh Cooper 5-11.

Height is not a prerequisite for NFL receiver stardom. Or production. But if Reynolds can provide a rangier target, that gives LaFleur, play-caller McVay and, most important, Goff more options.

Everett caught passes fairly consistently and ran well, prerequisites for a role in McVay's tight end-heavy scheme. Rogers showed sure hands on routes out of the backfield.

During the last few seasons, the Rams have seen a few first-year players immediately excel. Running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald were NFL rookies of the year. But others such as tight end Tyler Higbee got limited opportunities after standing out during training camp.

"We're expecting some of these guys to contribute," McVay said of offensive players in this year's draft class. "They certainly have to earn it."

McVay said he was "encouraged" by the performances of Everett, Kupp and Reynolds.

"You hope that it'll project when we get out here with all the veterans and things are ramped up a bit," he said.

But it all comes back to Goff.

LaFleur said the second-year pro was a "sponge," that he was picking up the new offense. As a passer, Goff is "a little more accurate than I anticipated," LaFleur said.

"I know he's excited about some of the pieces we've added," he said.

When organized team activities begin May 23, the new offensive players will practice with Goff in a full-squad setting. Rookie defensive players — safety John Johnson, Ebukam and fellow linebacker Ejuan Price and defensive tackle Tanzel Smart — will try to make their mark too.

Kupp worked out with Goff before the draft. He spoke of Goff's tenacity and desire to win.

He will spend the next few days making sure he knows the offense.

"So when the quarterback steps out on the field, I've got things dialed and ready to go," Kupp said, "because I know he's going to be ready to roll."

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein