First, let's go back to Kiper's initial reactions to the Rams' draft (insider sub required because boo). At the time, he gave the class an A- grade (B+ on hitting needs, A on value) having this to say:
I've been saying this roster was going to be loaded, and it's really there. Les Snead and Co. just keep piling up talent. The draft only dips for two small reasons, but I'll get to those later. Starting at the top, Greg Robinson brings that rare potential to be a star offensive tackle. Yeah, it's projection. But Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden -- these are the names that get mentioned by really smart football people (including Ray Lewis during our broadcast). Robinson doesn't have to start at tackle, more likely left guard, which will aid his development. Aaron Donald isn't the same type of player as Sheldon Richardson, but could be the Richardson of 2013. By that I mean the breakout rookie, taken in the same range, and plugged into a situation that was already considered a strength. Richardson blew up on a solid Jets D-line; Donald can do the same here. The kid is a stud, and the this line is terrifying. Yes, the Rams needed a corner, and not only does the certainty of pressure make the secondary better, they got a versatile talent in Lamarcus Joyner. He's undersized, but he's that hybrid in the secondary, a slot safety type who is on the field all the time. Tre Mason is solid depth at RB, and Maurice Alexander has starting potential. Garrett Gilbert isn't a player I'd consider a challenger at QB, but there's upside, and they needed the depth. E.J. Gaines adds depth at corner. While there isn't much of an immediate need for Michael Sam along the defense line, he gives them depth in the pass rush and is a high-effort player with a chance to contribute despite average athleticism. I agree with Jeff Fisher that he's a good value late in Round 7. The Rams get dinged a little because I think they should have taken at least one WR in a draft loaded with them, and the fact that they still have a question at QB -- after all, this draft haul is tied to the fact that they opted not to draft Robert Griffin III. They have a ton of talent, but the QB question lingers. It's up to Bradford now.
I don't take much umbrage with the rookie assessments. Most teams think their day one and two picks are going to come in and play well immediately and that they'll unearth a couple diamonds. And the last end of his take is tough to argue with. The WR class produced big time and the Rams are still trying to figure out what to do at QB. I'm not really sure what exactly that has to do with the class they got, but maybe time will sort him out.
Eight months later, he's back and has downgraded it to a B+ (insider sub again because boo):
I think people will see this grade and think I'm crazy, because even defensive tackle Aaron Donald alone should make this a good draft class, and he is not all they got. The deduction comes because this bounty of picks was added via a trade with Washington, and even if the Redskins haven't made out well given the limbo status of Robert Griffin III, it's pretty fair to say the Rams haven't solved either the quarterback position or whom those quarterbacks are throwing to.
That said, this is still a really good draft. Donald was a star, my defensive rookie of the year. I don't know what else you can say except that he's the definition of good college tape translating to the pros. He can wreck things against the both the run and the pass -- and should do so for years to come. Greg Robinson had some major struggles but did get valuable experience at left tackle. He is one to watch in training camp. Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner was used situationally but added value, and running back Tre Mason is an offensive player we can highlight, as he showed he can be a playmaker in the run game and has a good chance to lead the team in carries in 2015.
The quietly significant addition, of course -- and the guy we should talk about next to Donald -- is E.J. Gaines. It's just a massive coup to get this level of play out of a cornerback taken in Round 6. Give the scouting department major credit for that. There isn't much beyond that. It's a solid class, but all this great drafting hasn't made the offense very good and hasn't made the Rams a winner, either. That drags on the grade.
That just doesn't make a ton of sense. Swap that class with say Green Bay's 2014 class and he would have graded it higher. Why? Because QB play and wins. That's dumb, but it's one way of grading it. I guess part of my problem with that approach is that he doesn't apply it across the board. He gives the Giants an A despite finishing with the same number of wins as the Rams. The Raiders got bumped up from a B+ to an A- after starting 0-11 and limping into three late wins. Kiper himself even acknowledged, "It didn't add up to much winning, but the Raiders got a lot from the 2014 draft class."
I would think that would be the standard criteria, but then again, logic doesn't sell well on the internet.