Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile

Advanced

Rams 2020 breakout watchlist: WR Josh Reynolds...

June 29, 2020 08:15AM
Rams 2020 breakout watchlist: WR Josh Reynolds

[theramswire.usatoday.com]

Cameron DaSilva

There will be a lot of new faces in the Rams’ starting lineup this season after the team made major roster changes in the offseason. Veterans such as Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Dante Fowler Jr. and Cory Littleton are all gone, opening the door for younger, lesser-known players to step up.

Josh Reynolds is one of those players as he’ll have a chance to help replace Cooks as the No. 3 receiver next to Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. He’ll first have to beat out rookie Van Jefferson for that spot, but given his experience and history as a starter, it’s likely he’ll open the year as WR3.

That may not seem like a big role, but in an offense that leans heavily on three-receiver sets, Reynolds could be poised for a breakout campaign. In this article series, we’ll be previewing players who could emerge as key contributors and/or starters for the Rams in 2020, beginning with Reynolds.

NFL career thus far


(Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Reynolds is entering his fourth NFL season and has 61 career catches for 832 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s made 11 starts and appeared in all 48 games, but his playing time has been limited to less than 60% of the snaps each year – including only 43% last season.

His best opportunity came in 2018 when Kupp tore his ACL, thrusting Reynolds into a starting role. He played fairly well in that spot, catching 29 passes for 402 yards on 53 targets. But when Kupp returned last season, Reynolds was once again relegated to a backup role.

He struggled some with drops in 2019, posting a drop rate of 7.0% (three drops on 43 targets). It’s not a huge concern, but that figure must improve in 2020 if he’s to emerge as a playmaker.

Why he could break out

It’s all about opportunities, and Reynolds should have plenty of them this season. As much as we’ve heard about the Rams moving more toward a run-centric offense that also features a lot of tight end usage, they’ll still use three-receiver packages more often than not. Last season, Cooks played the fewest snaps of the Rams’ top three receivers, and he was still on the field 63.2% of the time.

Assuming Reynolds beats out Jefferson, he should be expected to play at least 55-60% of the offensive snaps. Cooks was targeted 72 times a year ago, which might be a low-end projection for Reynolds.

Even if he catches 50% of those targets as he has in his career and averages around 13.6 yards per reception (his career average), he could be in line for about 36 catches and close to 500 yards. Those may not be eye-popping numbers, but they’d both be career-highs for Reynolds.

As the primary deep threat in this offense, he should make some big plays – as long as Jared Goff’s accuracy gets better behind a hopefully improved offensive line – on downfield passes. That will drive up his efficiency, as well as his yardage total.

Here’s an example of Reynolds’ deep speed on a touchdown catch against the Bears that was nullified by a penalty; it’s a play McVay has pointed to in the past as a reason for his confidence in Reynolds.

If Reynolds can make plays like that one against man coverage, it’ll go a long way toward the Rams’ passing attack improving.

Why he may not
If the Rams really do stick to their plan of running the ball often and integrating more two-tight end packages, then Reynolds’ impact will remain subdued. He’s already fourth or fifth in the pecking order of offensive touches behind Woods, Kupp, Cam Akers (or Darrell Henderson) and Tyler Higbee, which will be made even worse if Gerald Everett’s playing time increases, too.

There’s also a chance rookie Van Jefferson earns the No. 3 receiver role, or at the very least eats into Reynolds’ playing time in third-down situations when route-running is prioritized. Reynolds has an edge thanks to his familiarity with the Rams’ offense, but Jefferson has been mentioned as a combination of Woods and Kupp.

Reynolds has to show he can come down with contested catches and win at the catch point. He’s not the most physically imposing receiver and has a slimmer frame, but he’s the tallest wideout on the team and must use that height to his advantage.

If he can’t, McVay might prefer Jefferson’s route running in the Rams offense.
SubjectAuthorViewsPosted

  Rams 2020 breakout watchlist: WR Josh Reynolds...

Rams4352June 29, 2020 08:15AM

  Well, the 3rd WR in this O is a very important chess piece...

Rams4325June 29, 2020 08:20AM