5 Players Turning Heads at St. Louis Rams Training Camp
There is no sure-fire way to predict which NFL players will have success during the regular season, but a player's training camp performance is one of the best indicators available.
If a player experiences an unexpected breakout campaign during the regular season, then chances are that player gave off telltale signs of that success during camp.
For example, writer Jim Thomas was immediately able to spot Robert Quinn's pass-rushing skills during his rookie camp in 2011, per Sporting News. Quinn immediately produced as a rookie and is now perhaps the most dominate defensive player in the NFL.
In order to spot the young stars and future breakout players for the St. Louis Rams, we must analyze what is taking place at training camp.
This article will highlight several players who have been turning heads early on in camp. Hopefully, at least one of these players has a breakout year in 2014.
WR Brian Quick
Brian Quick was drafted No. 33 overall in 2012—which practically makes him a first-round selection—but his development at the NFL level has been slow and aggravating, while his production has been minuscule.
When the Rams drafted Quick, they sold him to the fanbase as a No. 1 wide receiver capable of contributing immediately. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher made that perfectly clear shortly after the draft, according to StLouisRams.com.
"We expect him to play and be a big part of our offense," said Fisher during the 2012 interview. "We wouldn't have taken him at the spot where we took him were we not convinced that he was one of those guys that could learn fast and help us very early in the season."
The team even revealed the details of Quick's super-secret predraft workout that evidently sealed the deal, where Quick not only caught some passes, but also apparently walked on water and solved the crisis in the Middle East.
The Rams have since backtracked. The organization now talks about Quick in a different tone, and the regime seems to acknowledge that he's actually a long-term project.
The selection of Quick has been one of the few obvious blunders by the current regime, but perhaps it's not over just yet.
Training camp reports have been consistent regarding Quick's stellar performance. He has been running with the first-team offense and has been a spectacular deep-ball and red-zone threat early in camp.
Rams fans have witnessed more than a few disappointments at the wide receiver position, so you'll struggle to find a fanbase more skeptical of training camp production by a receiver, but Quick's production should not be totally overlooked, either.
If Quick continues to impress in camp, and if he's finally able to contribute consistently during the regular season, it would be an unexpected but remarkable upgrade for the offense.
G Davin Joseph
The Rams have been mixing and matching the starting offensive line on a daily basis, but the two spots that remain untouched are Joe Barksdale at right tackle and Davin Joseph at right guard.
Joseph, a former Pro Bowl guard with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who has become a forgotten man, appears to be showing signs of life at Rams Park.
ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner pointed out that Joseph is looking solid in camp, and reports from fans and Twitter have complimented Joseph's play consistently.
Joseph will likely be the odd man out once Jake Long returns from injury. Rodger Saffold and Greg Robinson will man the guard spots, sending Joseph to the bench in the process.
However, it's comforting to know that the Rams have a healthy, former Pro Bowl veteran on the sidelines capable of stepping in at any time.
WR Kenny Britt
Like Quick, wide receiver Kenny Britt has been generating nothing but positive reports coming out of Rams camp.
Britt has also been a big playmaker and even caught a 40-yard touchdown from Bradford after burning cornerback Brandon McGee during Tuesday's practice.
And unlike Quick, Britt actually has regular-season film to back up his training camp hype. He had 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons despite being underutilized.
Britt has never had the opportunity to catch passes from a quarterback as talented as Bradford. With a little luck, this could be a situation where Britt finally breaks out.
CB E.J. Gaines
Cornerback E.J. Gaines was a total bargain in the sixth round. He has the talent to be a Day-2 draft selection, and he's already putting that talent on display at training camp.
Gaines had an interception in each of the first two practices, including one against Sam Bradford and the first-team offense during the first day of camp.
The comments out of camp regarding the secondary have not been too flattering, but the play of Gaines has been an apparent exception.
If the secondary is indeed struggling, the arrival of Gaines could be huge. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are capable starters, but the depth behind them is thin and inexperienced. If Gaines is a quick learner, he can alleviate the situation.
Expect Gaines to get more and more reps with the first-team defense moving forward, especially with Johnson injured for the time being.
DT Aaron Donald
Days ago, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted out a text he received out of Rams Park that said, "Aaron Donald is unreal."
ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner referred to Donald as "a terror" in his first camp report, and he mentioned in a later report that offensive lineman Joseph is one of the few capable of somewhat containing Donald.
The news on St. Louis' No. 13 overall pick has been nothing but positive, and that's exactly what NFC West rivals were afraid of. If Donald can become the player he was drafted to be, the St. Louis defensive line has the potential to be historically good.
Personally, out of all the new additions in 2014, Donald is the player I'm most looking forward to watching in the preseason and beyond. His impact on the interior defensive line will do great things for the St. Louis defense.