Rams' newly drafted receivers Pharoh Cooper and Michael Thomas are looking forward to minicamp

Rams' newly drafted receivers Pharoh Cooper and Michael Thomas are looking forward to minicamp
Rams wide receiver Pharoh Cooper runs the 40-yard dash in front of NFL coaches and scouts during South Carolina's NFL football Pro Day onMarch 30. (Gerry Melendez / AP)

They are coming to an NFL team that ranked last in passing in 2015.

So receivers Pharoh Cooper and Michael Thomas undoubtedly sense opportunity with the Rams.


Cooper, a fourth-round draft pick from South Carolina, and Thomas, a sixth-round pick from Southern Mississippi, will be in Oxnard on Friday when the Rams begin a rookie orientation and minicamp for drafted players and undrafted free agents.

Cooper and Thomas were selected two days after the Rams made California quarterback Jared Goff the No. 1 pick in the draft.

"They both have a specific role or skill set," General Manager Les Snead said of the receivers. "Pharoh in the slot, kind of a weapon role. Michael as an outside guy, who's caught a lot of contested balls in his career."

Cooper and Thomas are attempting to join a receiving corps that caught a league-low 11 touchdown passes last season. Mike Groh will be in his first season as receivers coach and passing game coordinator after spending the last three seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Tavon Austin is the Rams' top receiver for a position group that includes Kenny Britt, Brian Quick and Bradley Marquez. Stedman Bailey is attempting to come back from head injuries suffered last November when he was struck twice by gunfire while sitting in a car in Miami. Other receivers on the roster include Kain Colter, the former Northwestern quarterback, Isiah Ferguson, Deon Long and Nick Toon.

The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Cooper played high school football in North Carolina and was a multipurpose standout at South Carolina. Last season, he caught 66 passes, eight for touchdowns, and also rushed for a touchdown and passed for another.

"You watch him and he is throwing the ball, his return skills, his run after catch, his ability to get open. He is a strong player," Rams Coach Jeff Fisher said. "We felt like he would give us an additional target inside."

Cooper played quarterback in high school and said his biggest strength was picking up yardage after a catch. He was surprised when the Rams drafted him because he had limited contact with them.

"The special teams coordinator called me one time and asked if I had any film," he said. "But other than that I didn't speak to the Rams at all."

Cooper said he was prepared to do whatever the Rams asked.

"I'm ready to start playing now," he said.

Thomas, 6-1 and 200 pounds, played in a Chicago high and two seasons at junior colleges before transferring to Southern Mississippi. Last season, he caught 71 passes, 14 for touchdowns, and averaged 19.6 yards per catch.

"What you notice about him is being able to catch the ball when there was a defender near him, and pluck the ball out of the air when somebody was covering him or draped on his back," Snead said.

Thomas said he brings "dynamic playmaking skills" to the Rams. Like Cooper, Thomas sounded eager to play with Goff.


"I'm just looking forward to working with him, getting that chemistry going, and then we're balling," Thomas said.

He said he also was prepared to learn from veterans.

"I'm just looking forward to those guys helping me out, teaching me things, the ins and outs," he said.