Tight end Gerald Everett played at two junior colleges and a university that dropped its football program before finishing up at a school that had never produced a drafted NFL player before him.
Cooper Kupp set a barrel of NCAA receiving records, but he did it far away from the national spotlight at Eastern Washington.
These two products of smaller schools have been united by the Los Angeles Rams, who hope they’ll grow up to become major targets for Jared Goff.
Everett and Kupp went through their first workouts Friday in the opening session of rookie minicamp with the Rams, who used their top two draft picks on pass-catchers with plenty to prove at the highest level of football.
“There’s nothing like football, nothing like it,” said Kupp, whose finger was already heavily bandaged after a minor injury. “These are the kinds of things I live for.”
Despite their small-school backgrounds leading to the usual pre-draft questions about their achievements relative to their level of competition, Everett was chosen in the second round by the Rams, and Kupp was taken in the third. Along with free-agent receiver Robert Woods, the youngsters are the most important skill-position additions to the roster that produced the NFL’s worst offensive numbers last season.
“You don’t want to mess up,” Everett said. “You want to move 100 miles an hour and do the right things every play. But it happens, especially being in rookie minicamp and the first day out here. So I think I had a couple of errors, but not too many for my first day. Tomorrow I’ll be better.”
Goff was in the Rams’ training complex while his new teammates worked out under Sean McVay and the rest of Los Angeles’ new coaching staff. McVay also put the players through 90 minutes of meetings before two-a-day workouts.
“Cooper Kupp showed why we like him so much,” McVay said. “(He’s) savvy. He’s a polished route runner. Good, aggressive hands.”
Everett is used to learning new offenses after the lengthy collegiate road that led him to South Alabama, but the size and scope of McVay’s scheme have left him expecting to spend plenty of time studying in the next few months.
“I came into a completely new offense, so it’s a change of pace,” Everett said. “But I felt like I handled it extremely well and cut it loose today. I caught some deep balls, and I felt like I was moving pretty well.”
Everett and Kupp both overcame questions about their pedigrees with strong performances at the draft combine and private workouts. Both players are eager to show they’ve got the football sense to compensate for any physical shortcomings.
“Anytime you come out there and you try to ‘prove something,’ you’re trying to be more than you are,” Kupp said. “If you’re trying to prove something, you’ve got a weight on your chest. There’s no room for error. I’m just going to come out and be who I am. I’m just going to play football. I know I’m a great player, so I’m going to come out and just let that show, and that’s going to be enough.”
Kupp is 17 months older than Goff, who went 0-7 in his first season as the Rams’ starter. The rookie already knows his new quarterback from offseason workouts because they are represented by the same group of agents.
The Rams are hoping Goff grows up along with Everett and Kupp during the long weeks and months of workouts ahead of September’s season opener.
“It was very clear, the tenacity (Goff) has, and the desire he has to win,” Kupp said. “That’s going to show. That’s something that’s been going on with no cameras here. That’s been going on during off days. He’s going to be putting this team in the best position to win.”