Rams rookies Everett, Kupp, Johnson may be thrown in fire

Gerald Everett should see targets right out of the gate since Lance Kendricks has moved on. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Rams signed their top three draft picks on Friday, as tight end Gerald Everett, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson put pen to paper on their rookie contracts.

The Rams, who were without a first-round pick because they traded up to take quarterback Jared Goff first overall in 2016, selected Everett out of South Alabama with the 12th pick of the second round. Then they plucked Kupp out of Eastern Washington and Johnson out of Boston College in the third round. Since they are not first-round picks, the Rams won't have fifth-year options on any of their contracts. They all signed straight four-year deals.

OverTheCap.com has the 44th overall pick (Everett) costing $6,044,448 toward the salary cap over the next four years, with the 69th pick (Kupp) costing $3,354,760 and the 91st pick (Johnson) costing $3,157,752. Below is a look at where each rookie stands with the three-day mandatory minicamp starting Tuesday.

Everett: The Rams are very young at tight end after letting veteran Lance Kendricks leave via free agency. Everett or Tyler Higbee, a fourth-round pick from 2016, will probably get a significant number of targets at the position. Rams rookie head coach Sean McVay was the Redskins' offensive coordinator last year, and no team got more out of its tight ends than the Skins, with Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis both making a significant impact. Everett, at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, didn't face a lot of elite competition in college and may still be raw, but Higbee was targeted only 29 times as a rookie. They will both be counted on heavily this year.

"We brought him here for a reason -- he can play," Higbee said of Everett last week. "And it’s tough. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming, especially being a tight end coming into the league, knowing the playbook. You have to know nearly as much as the quarterback with the run game and the pass game, protection, stuff like that, and some of the different defensive looks that you don’t get to see in college. I think he’s doing well. He’s picking it up; he’s starting to get it. You can kind of tell where he’s starting to be able to play a little bit faster rather than be out there thinking, ‘Where am I going, what am I doing?’ He’s starting to pick it up, and he’s looking good."

Kupp: If you want a safe bet for the Rams' most productive rookie, look right here. Kupp set 15 FCS records in college, finishing his career with 428 catches, 73 touchdowns and 6,464 yards, more yards than any other collegiate receiver at any level. He arrives very polished. Kupp is sure-handed, runs good routes and brings elite football intelligence. Goff will need a security blanket as he looks to rebound in his second season, and Kupp should be that guy because he has such a knack for being both available and reliable. Tavon Austin and Robert Woods are the two primary receivers, but Kupp will probably be on the field for three-receiver sets, operating mostly out of the slot.

“I think the first thing you know about Cooper is he’s a pro, and you can see that," Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said early in the offseason program. "He came in here not like most rookies do. He’s an extremely polished route runner, got great hands. You can tell he works at his craft each and every day. He does a great job.”

Johnson: He brings ball skills and versatility to the Rams. And if he shows that early, Johnson could become a fixture in coordinator Wade Phillips' defense. Lamarcus Joyner is expected to play free safety in base sets and return to his role as a slot corner when the Rams are in nickel coverage. Teams are in subpackages most of the time these days, which means Johnson could end up seeing a lot of time at free safety. For now, the Rams want versatility out of their defensive players. Johnson has experience in the slot. And during the offseason program, the Rams have been playing him both at free safety and strong safety. The starting strong safety, Maurice Alexander, has been nursing an injury.

“John’s a guy that can do both," McVay said during the rookie minicamp. "He’s got good range. He’s smart with his exit angles, good ball skills. He’s a guy that’s played nickel before, so I think when you have a safety that can play both underneath, kind of as a box defender, and then as a middle safety or half-field, quarter safety, it gives you more flexibility. That was one of the things that we liked about John.”