Rookie Jordan Fuller can plug into the Rams defense, and L.A., with ease
Los Angeles won’t be a new experience for Jordan Fuller.
Though he was raised in New Jersey and played at Ohio State, the rookie safety was somewhat of a Southern California local well before the Rams selected him in the sixth round of the NFL draft in April.
Fuller’s brother, Devin, played receiver at UCLA from 2012 to 2015. Their uncle, actor and comedian Sinbad, and other relatives live in the San Fernando Valley. And Fuller was part of a Buckeyes team that traveled to Pasadena and won the 2019 Rose Bowl in front of family and friends.
When Fuller had breaks during college, L.A. usually beckoned. On the day he was drafted, he told reporters it was like a second home. So Fuller was ecstatic when the Rams drafted him with the 199th pick.
“They’re getting a guy that’s willing to do anything for the team, really,” he said. “Whether it’s special teams, putting in all the hours that’s necessary to go win games. That’s my main priority.”
Fuller joins a defense — and a position group — in transition after the Rams finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs last year.The Rams were 12th in passing defense, 19th in rushing defense and 17th in points allowed.
Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth talks about his family’s battle with the coronavirus, which began in mid-June.
Eric Weddle retired after 13 seasons, the final one with the Rams. Rotational safety Marqui Christian became a free agent.
John Johnson, a fourth-year pro in the final year of his contract, is the leader and most experienced member of the safety corps. Johnson had a breakout season in 2018. His interception of Drew Brees in overtime set up a game-winning field goal that sent the Rams to the Super Bowl.
Johnson suffered a season–ending shoulder injury last year in the sixth game against the San Francisco 49ers, but has said he is fully recovered and he is expected to start alongside second-year pro Taylor Rapp.
Rapp, a second-round pick in 2019, began last season in a rotational role but moved into the starting lineup after Johnson was injured. Rapp started 10 games and intercepted two passes.
Second-year pro Nick Scott, third-round draft pick Terrell Burgess and undrafted rookie JuJu Hughes are other safeties who will compete with Fuller for roles when the Rams open training camp this week. Rookies report Monday.
Fuller, 6 feet 2 and 203 pounds, was a two-time captain and three-year starter for Ohio State. He also was an Academic All-American and graduated with a degree in business marketing.
“When you hear about the makeup and the production he had at a really prominent place like Ohio State, you love that,” McVay said.
Staley said that Jeff Hafley, the former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator who is now coach at Boston College, had been “raving” about Fuller. Fuller lived up to the billing during the Rams’ virtual offseason program, Staley said.
“He’s proven that inside those meetings,” he said.
Fuller was one of three members of Ohio State’s secondary drafted in April. Cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette were first-round picks. The competition at Ohio State has prepared him for the NFL, Fuller said.
“You really have no choice but to compete every single day,” he said, “and you’re competing against the best of the best in the country every day too.
According to the L.A. County Department of Public Health, six more SoFi Stadium workers tested positive for the novel coronavirus this week, bringing the total cases from the site to 55.
“So, that’s just kind of in my blood now.”
Staley has indicated that in his hybrid 3-4 scheme, a premium will be placed on versatility. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is among the players Staley is expected to deploy in various roles.
Fuller said he was comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage as a run-stopper or in the back end of the defense.
“I consider myself very versatile,” he said, “So, really, plug me in anywhere and I’ll get the job done.”
Rams rookies report for medical testing Monday and the start of team activities Aug. 2 with hopes they finally will get a chance to show their skills on the field. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the offseason program was virtual. The draft prospects:
Cam Akers, RB, second round: After releasing highly paid Todd Gurley, the Rams selected Akers to help fill the void. The former Florida State star will compete with Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson.
Van Jefferson, WR, second round: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds are the projected starting receivers. Jefferson can step into the role Reynolds filled the last two seasons.
Terrell Lewis, OLB, third round: Several injuries kept Lewis sidelined for extended periods at Alabama. If physically sound, he could provide a much-needed edge-rushing presence.
Terrell Burgess, DB, third round: Versatility is key for defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, and that’s one reason he’s excited about Burgess, who is listed at safety but also projects as a slot cornerback.
The NFL Players Assn. says its executive committee has agreed to changes to the collective bargaining agreement, and plans to hold a season continue.
Brycen Hopkins, TE, fourth round: Hopkins joins a position group that includes Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett and Johnny Mundt. Everett is in the final year of his rookie deal. Mundt is on a one-year contract.
Jordan Fuller, S, sixth round: John Johnson and Taylor Rapp are the starting safeties, but there is opportunity for Fuller in a rotational role. Like Burgess, he is versatile.
Clay Johnston, ILB, sixth round: The Rams are young at inside linebacker, and Johnston might be able to find a role in a group that includes Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder, Travin Howard and Kenny Young.
Sam Sloman, K, seventh round: With Greg Zuerlein now kicking for the Dallas Cowboys, Sloman will compete against Canadian League veteran Lirim Hajrullahu and Austin MacGinnis for the place-kicking job.
Tremayne Anchrum, OL, seventh round: Anchrum, who played at Clemson, is listed as a guard. However, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer typically trains linemen at multiple spots.
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