Cam Akers' second-half surge highlights Los Angeles Rams' promising 2020 rookie class

Cam Akers soared to the top of the Rams' depth chart late in the season, rushing for 424 yards in his final five regular-season games played. Morry Gash/AP

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- It was Week 13 when rookie running back Cam Akers found a rhythm, scoring a touchdown for a third consecutive game and helping deliver the Los Angeles Rams a key 38-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Stuck playing a role in a running back committee, Akers emerged that afternoon as a feature back with some sage advice: Running backs tend to find a better flow with more touches.

Rams coach Sean McVay must have been listening because moving forward it was Akers, a second-round pick from Florida State, who the offense relied on for some big backfield performances.

Akers wasn't the only rookie to emerge for the 10-6 Rams. Safety Jordan Fuller played a starring role in the secondary and receiver Van Jefferson stepped up in the postseason.

But it was the emergence of Akers, drafted to replace Todd Gurley II, that provides the most promise for an offense that must be more consistent in 2021 behind new quarterback Matthew Stafford.

"Probably about midseason, that's when I started to get a good grasp on the run concepts, what the coaches wanted," Akers said after the season. "I just kind of settled in, played football and it showed."

In a 24-3 win over the New England Patriots in Week 14, Akers rushed for 171 yards on 29 carries. He bested that in a 30-20 wild-card playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks, as he accumulated 176 all-purpose yards and scored a touchdown.

McVay said Akers emerged as a "big-time guy" over the last few weeks and that there are high expectations for him moving forward.

In 13 games, Akers rushed for 625 yards and two touchdowns on 145 carries and caught 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Here's a review of the rest of the Rams' 2020 draft class:

Round 2 (No. 57 overall) Van Jefferson, WR, Florida

Jefferson appeared on track to play a significant role in the offense after an outstanding training camp, but the rookie's opportunities were limited through 16 regular-season games, as he caught 19 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown.

However, in a divisional-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, Jefferson stepped up in Cooper Kupp's absence and caught six passes for 46 yards and a touchdown, providing a resounding reminder of his ability to be a playmaker going forward. "Van showed why the game's not too big for him," McVay said after the season. Watch for Jefferson to earn a starting role in 2021 with Josh Reynolds scheduled for free agency.

Round 3 (No. 84) Terrell Lewis, OLB, Alabama

Lewis has all the physical tools -- during training camp teammates marveled at his physical traits. However, Lewis' rookie season was plagued by injuries. First it was his knee, which many teams flagged ahead of the NFL draft, causing him to drop to the third round despite having first-round talent. Then, he had ankle issues. In all, Lewis appeared in eight games and recorded two sacks and eight tackles. If Lewis is able to remain healthy in 2021 -- a big question considering his injury history dating to college -- he has the opportunity to play a big role on the edge with outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Samson Ebukam pending free agents.

Round 3 (No. 104) Terrell Burgess, S, Utah

Burgess earned a role on special teams at the outset of the season and his contributions on defense began to grow in Week 6. However, his season ended abruptly when he was carted off the field with a broken ankle in a 24-10 victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 7. Watch for Burgess to play an increased role on defense next season, especially if safety John Johnson III leaves in free agency.

Round 4 (No. 136) Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

After the 2020 draft, Rams general manager Les Snead said Hopkins could carve an early role, but also pointed out the strength of a tight end group that included Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett and Johnny Mundt, leaving open the expectation that Hopkins' biggest contributions could come in the seasons ahead. Hopkins appeared in five games on special teams but was otherwise inactive this season. With Everett scheduled for free agency in March, expect Hopkins to play an increased role in 2021.

Round 6 (No. 199) Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State

Fuller was the surprise of the draft class. With returning safety Taylor Rapp sidelined for part of training camp because of an injury, Fuller took full advantage and earned the starting job in Week 1, when he made an outstanding play in the red zone to preserve a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. On Monday Night Football in Week 11, Fuller intercepted Tom Brady -- twice -- in a 27-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 12 games (he missed time due to a shoulder injury), Fuller had three interceptions, five pass deflections and 60 tackles.

Round 7 (No. 234) Clay Johnston, ILB, Baylor

Johnston, remembered for talking too much during training camp on "Hard Knocks: Los Angeles", did not make the 53-man roster out of training camp. He was invited to sign with the practice squad but opted to join the practice squad with the Carolina Panthers, where his father was the Panthers' director of wellness.

Round 7 (No. 248) Sam Sloman, K, Miami (Ohio)

2020 was a kicking odyssey for the Rams, starting with Sloman, who earned the starting job out of training camp but was waived after Week 7 because of inconsistency. He was 8-of-11 on field goal attempts, 18-of-21 on extra points and unable to consistently deliver on kickoffs. Veteran Kai Forbath replaced Sloman, but only for two games after he fared no better and went to injured reserve because of an ankle injury. The Rams signed Matt Gay off the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad. He settled in after a bumpy start to connect on 14-of-16 field goal attempts, all 16 of his extra points and will be the kicker going forward.

Round 7 (No. 250) Tremayne Anchrum Jr., OG, Clemson

Anchrum made the 53-man roster out of training camp and played in 12 games on special teams. Center Austin Blythe is the only pending free agent, so it's unlikely Anchrum will play a role on offense in 2021.