Top pick Jared Verse thrilled Rams also picked his Florida State linemate

Florida State defensive lineman Braden Fiske reacts after a sack against Louisville.

As he settled in for an introductory news conference Friday, it was difficult to ascertain what new Rams edge rusher Jared Verse was more excited about:

His selection the night before with the 19th pick in the NFL draft? Or that moments earlier on Friday, the Rams had traded up to select former Florida State teammate Braden Fiske?

Verse had traveled to Southern California and, upon arrival at the Rams’ draft house in Hermosa Beach, he was ushered into a room for a phone call with Fiske after general manager Les Snead selected the defensive tackle in the second round with the 39th pick.

“Having him be out here with me, and me being out here with him is just out of this world,” Verse said.

The 6-foot-4, 254-pound Verse was the first player chosen by the Rams in the first round since 2016.

“It’s on me now,” he said. “I’ve got to show it was worth it.”

Read more: Top pick Jared Verse thrilled Rams also picked his Florida State linemate

Along with Verse and Fiske, the Rams also chose Michigan running back Blake Corum in the third round with the 83rd pick and Miami safety Kamren Kinchens with the 99th pick.

“Their makeup is unbelievable in terms of the intangibles, the mental toughness,” McVay said. “These guys all have a physicality to their game. "

Verse, who had nine sacks in each of his last two college seasons, said he admired accomplished NFL pass rushers such as Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garrett and Maxx Crosby. The Rams drafted Verse and Fiske to help fill the void left by another star, recently retired Aaron Donald, a three-time defensive player of the year.

Verse said Thursday that he welcomed the pressure of helping to replace Donald, a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer. On Friday, Verse indicated he was looking forward to making his own name.

“Those are big shoes to fill,” he said. “I have my own set of shoes though. I have my own things I have to do.

Rams first-round draft pick holds up a jersey during his introductory media conference.
Rams first-round draft pick holds up a jersey during his introductory media conference. (Gary Klein / Los Angeles Times)

“I’m a whole different player than he is, and I want to have the impact that he has on the game. But day by day, I’m working just to become the best me.”

The Rams began Friday with the 52nd, 83rd and 99th picks. Early in the second round, however, the Rams made a deal to move up to No. 39. They sent Nos. 52 and 155 and a second-round pick in 2025 to the Carolina Panthers so they could draft Fiske.

“I don’t take that for granted, you know, seeing a team trading up to get you,” Fiske said during a videoconference. “That means they really want you and they saw something in you from the beginning and they want to come get you.

“I’m going to give it in return. I’m going to give everything I’ve got.”

As with Verse, who transferred to Florida State after playing two seasons at Albany, the 6-4, 292-pound Fiske also began his career at a smaller school. He joined the Seminoles after five years at Western Michigan.

Read more: Rams' top pick, Florida State's Jared Verse, got pre-draft advice from Aaron Donald

The two players bonded during their only season in Tallahassee, Fla., pushing each other to achieve their goals.

“I’ve never in my life met somebody who works harder, or like just as hard as me, until I met Fiske,” Verse said. “This guy’s in the training room, he’s in there an hour before me. I’m in the weight room, he comes in five minutes later, and I’ve got to extend my workout because I can’t let him be in there longer than me. He’s on the field, we’re trying to compete in everything we do.

“It’s just been a competition every day, and we just bonded over how bad we want it.”

Said Fiske: “From Day 1, he was somebody I knew right away that this is the guy I’m going to be around because I can see the way he works and the way he gets after it. Really similar to who I am. Almost identical.”

Verse and Fiske said they also were in sync on the field and had gotten to the point where a nod or a look was all that was needed to communicate a strategy for a play.

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“We talked about, imagine if we went to the same team, that would be so cool if that would happen,” Verse said. “So it’s kind of like full circle. We just have that connection and now we’re bringing it to the NFL together.

“It’s going to be bad for opposing offenses.”

As with Verse, Fiske said he was looking forward to playing with Rams second-year tackle Kobie Turner, a finalist last season for defensive rookie of the year.

Fiske also anticipates that he and Verse will continue to improve as they play together.

“Me and him just have a different chemistry that we just built in one year,” Fiske said. “I can imagine what we can build in three, four, five or even longer.”

Corum rushed for 27 touchdowns while starring for a Michigan team that won the College Football Playoff championship.

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Rams running back Kyren Williams established himself as a 1,000-yard rusher last season. Corum is looking forward to complementing Williams.

“I know he’s going to help me get better,” Corum said during a videoconference. “I’m going to push him to be the best version of himself. And it’s going to be a great tandem, great duo.”

Kinchens joins a safety group that includes Quentin Lake, Russ Yeast and Kam Curl.

“You see the toughness, the range, being able to play, really, sideline to sideline,” McVay said. “His deep defense feel, you can see at the point of contact there’s no flinch.”

Braden Fiske — defensive tackle

6 feet 4, 292 pounds, Florida State, Round 2, Pick 39

Notable: It’s a Seminoles draft for the Rams. Fiske played at Florida State with edge rusher Jared Verse, whom the Rams selected in the first round with the No. 19 pick.

Last season: Fiske played in 13 games and had 43 tackles, including six sacks.

Why the Rams drafted him: Just as they did with Verse, the Rams sought a player who could help them make up for the loss of the recently retired Aaron Donald. Fiske, who played at Western Michigan before transferring for his final season, joins a front that includes second-year pro Kobie Turner, edge rushers Byron Young and Michael Hoecht and nose tackle Bobby Brown III.

Blake Corum — running back

Michigan's Blake Corum (2) gives the Rams more versatility at running back.
Michigan's Blake Corum (2) gives the Rams more versatility at running back. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

5 feet 8, 205 pounds, Michigan, Round 3, Pick 83

Notable: Corum rushed for 58 touchdowns during his Michigan career and helped lead the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff championship last season.

Last season: Corum played in 15 games and rushed for 1,245 yards and 27 touchdowns, including two in the championship game.

Why the Rams drafted him: Kyren Williams emerged as a 1,000-yard rusher last season, but the Rams needed another back to lessen his load. Corum was a key player in a winning program and demonstrated durability at Michigan. He gives Rams coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford another weapon for an offense that is expected to be the Rams’ strength.

Kamren Kinchens — safety

Kamren Kinchens of Miami runs through drills during practice for the Senior Bowl.
Kamren Kitchens will compete for a safety spot with the Rams. (Butch Dill / Associated Press)

5 feet 11, 203 pounds, Miami, Round 3, Pick 99

Notable: Kinchens, a Florida native, intercepted 11 passes during his three-year Miami career, the first Hurricanes player since Sean Taylor to amass 10 or more.

Last season: Kinchens played in 10 games and intercepted five passes. He was first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference.

Why the Rams drafted him: With the decision not to re-sign Jordan Fuller, the Rams need depth at safety. Kinchens joins a position group that includes Kam Curl, who was signed as a free agent, and Quentin Lake and Russ Yeast. None intercepted a pass last season. New defensive coordinator Chris Shula would like nothing more than for Kinchens to help create turnovers.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.