William Hayes, Aaron Donald, Johnny Hekker among potential 'Hard Knocks' show stealers

'Hard Knocks' to help acclimate Rams to L.A. media? (2:28)

ESPN Rams reporter Nick Wagoner explains why the team was willing to be featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks" and if the additional coverage will be a distraction to the Rams. (2:28)

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Sure, there will be X's and O's and player cuts and all the usual tropes that go with an appearance on HBO's "Hard Knocks," but let's face it, that's not the stuff you're going to remember.

Instead, can I interest you in theories on dinosaurs never existing or perhaps you prefer to believe in mermaids? How do you feel about seeing one of the leaders of the "Punters are people, too" movement? Or maybe you just like to watch one of the league's best players at his position put in copious amounts of time in an effort to perfect his craft?

Well, with the Los Angeles Rams' forthcoming appearance on the popular docuseries, you should be able to get an up close look at all of that over the course of the five 60-minute episodes debuting on Aug. 9.

Here's a look at five Rams players who could steal the show:

DE William Hayes -- Undoubtedly, Hayes is the player that has the best chance to win the hearts of America. He's the ultimate character in the Rams' locker room and with Chris Long and James Laurinaitis gone, will assume even more of a leadership role in 2016. In case you missed it last year, I detailed Hayes' status as a dinosaur truther, a mermaid believer and a pretty darn good football player. With Hayes, it's not so much a matter of if he'll get airtime as it is how much. It wouldn't surprise me if HBO even gave him a spinoff when it's all over.

P Johnny Hekker -- When it comes to characters, Hekker isn't far behind Hayes. OK, maybe he is, but that's only because most people are. He's almost always in a good mood and always comes quick with a funny anecdote or off-the-wall observation. He's also a two-time All Pro who has helped take up the cause started by NFL Network's Rich Eisen which reminds that "Punters are people, too." Put it this way, when the Rams held their first player availability in Los Angeles, Hekker was one of the two players they chose to put at the podium. How many punters in the league would land in that position?

DT Aaron Donald -- Donald continued to establish himself as one of the league's best defensive players in 2016 on his way to a second Pro Bowl appearance in as many seasons. In the process, he finally started to get some of the recognition he deserves beyond the people who grind game tape. With the platforms provided by his new city and the television show, Donald should finally have the chance to become a household name. And while he won't be a colorful personality like Hayes or Hekker, he'll certainly test the limits of HBO's film crew with his commitment to arriving early and staying late to continue his development.

RB Benny Cunningham -- While most casual football fans have at least heard of the first three players on this list, Cunningham flies under the radar as the team's primary third-down back and kick returner after earning a roster spot as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He's a restricted free agent at the moment and has drawn some interest from other teams but barring a surprising outside offer, the Rams intend to keep him. Assuming that happens, Cunningham has a chance to be the breakout personality of the show. Ask around the locker room and many of his teammates say he's the funniest player on the team, quick to offer an impression of just about anyone or deliver a well-timed punchline. His teammates love him and though he has a tendency to be shy around media, that will likely melt away quickly after he gets adjusted to having a camera in his face every day.

CB Trumaine Johnson -- There has to be room on this list for a good, old-fashioned trash talker. As Rams go, Johnson rates right near the top of the list, especially on the field. During practices, Johnson isn't afraid to run his mouth as he and receivers Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin (good candidates for this list, also) have had more than their share of verbal altercations over the past couple of years. This year, Johnson takes on an even bigger role as he settles into the No. 1 cornerback job following the departure of Janoris Jenkins to the New York Giants. A well-establish trash talker with something to prove? With the show appearing on cable, it sounds like the recipe for good, if not entirely family friendly, television.