When Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay took over the team in 2017, he immediately set out to improve the offense as it was ranked 32nd in the NFL the season prior. The first steps of the plan were executed in free agency when the Rams signed both LT Andrew Whitworth and WR Robert Woods to contracts. The next step that needed execution was drafting an uber-athletic tight end from a small college in South Alabama. After agreeing to a trade down and strengthening their coup of draft picks., the Rams selected Gerald Everett 44th overall.
In his first two seasons with the Rams, Everett has been used sparingly, leaving much to be desired. Unfortunately for Everett, most of his lack of production has to do with circumstances outside of his control. When playing in an offense with Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp, it all begins to make sense. There’s only one football to go around, meaning the lack of targets available for Everett is understandable. Yet still, being one of the more athletic tight ends in the league (85th percentile SPARQ-x score according to Player Profiler) should lead to more exciting and quality usage, though that hasn’t necessarily been the case for Everett. His first two seasons have totaled only 82 targets, which were converted for 49 receptions, 564 receiving yards, and five receiving touchdowns. The majority of his production came when WR Cooper Kupp was lost to a torn ACL in week eight, as Everett finished the second half of the season with 37 targets for 24 receptions, 244 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.
Taking a look at the fantasy perspective of things, Everett isn’t even being drafted in 12-team non-PPR and PPR (points per reception) leagues. The expectation shouldn’t be a TE1’s production, though Everett could be a streamer on a weekly basis at the tight end position. His consistency will be the hardest factor to gauge in terms of his productivity, though the potential to use him more in the redzone could be an intriguing option for McVay as RB Todd Gurley’s lack of health could lead to more passing opportunities there. The case study here was a redzone opportunity inside the 5-yard line where the Rams had Everett lined up outside the numbers in a 3 x 1 formation, singled up against Arizona Cardinals’ safety Budda Baker. The touchdown was a simple touchdown off a slant, but it showed Everett’s capability to run his route effectively and then use his big body to shield the defender from the ball, securing it away from his body with his outstretched arms.
Looking at what Everett has been thus far likely leads you to believe he isn’t a very quality player, though that simply cannot be proven at this point. The tight end position is notoriously known as arguably the toughest for young players to transition to in the NFL, partially explaining the long development process. Not only that, but a lack of target share and usage both lead to a lack of box-score stats. Sean McVay is creative enough to scheme interesting ways to use Everett, such as his “breakout” game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Everett was used as a mismatch weapon in space (once again lining up outside the numbers on his own side of the formation), turning on the burners on a long 40-yard touchdown catch that turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. The hope is not that Everett will suddenly receive a big chunk of the target share on a team littered with dangerous weapons – because that isn’t likely – it’s more about the quality of the targets, as Everett is athletic enough to create big plays on minimal opportunities.
Specific plays like the two mentioned above are small glimpses into not only the capabilities of Gerald Everett as a mismatch weapon in a passing league, but the potential creative usage patterns that Sean McVay could scheme for him.