2018 NFL Draft LA Rams Class
|Stephen F. Austin
The Los Angeles Rams went into the 2018 NFL Draft having already done work on the roster beyond sufficiency. The additions of WR Brandin Cooks, DL Ndamukong Suh, CB Aqib Talib and CB Marcus Peters to what was already a solid roster meant that any roster needs at this point weren’t really all that badly needed. The worst thing the Rams could have done is use their first few picks in a draft in which they had already used their first- and second-round picks in trades on those light roster needs. Every roster has weak points, but the Rams’ weak point at linebacker (both inside and outside) was both less weak than other rosters’ weak points and was propped up by a ridiculous supporting cast around it.
General Manager Les Snead has been here before. In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Rams were in a severe hole on the offensive line having delayed addressing it for the first three years in the partnership between Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Snead responded with panicked desperation. The Rams drafted five offensive linemen and brought others in as undrafted free agents. Aside from RG Jamon Brown and RT Rob Havenstein, the other picks flailed leaving needs cropping up elsewhere that those other picks could have addressed. Perhaps Snead learned from that draft. Perhaps the influence of second-year Head Coach Sean McVay made a difference. But whatever the reason, Snead didn’t panic this year. He didn’t cram linebackers into the entire draft. He found value at his needs while drafting talents to groom for the future at positions that aren’t in need for 2018.
He used the draft the best way you can for good rosters.
He used it to build out future success on the back of whatever success the current roster can bring.
TCU Horned Frogs OT Joseph Noteboom
That effort began with Noteboom, a surprise pick at an unsurprising position. LT Andrew Whitworth is 36-years old and RT Rob Havenstein is heading into the final year of his contract.
So not only did the Rams get an option at tackle (we’ll have to see what side they plan to use him on, though I’d expect he starts off on the left) for depth, but they get the luxury of not needing him in his rookie season leaving him to soak up the tutelage of Offensive Line Coach Aaron Kromer as well as from Whitworth.
Michigan State Spartans C Brian Allen
A similar pick to the one that preceded it. If Noteboom offers an out in a post-Whitworth/post-Havenstein landscape with the benefit of a luxury learning season, Allen offers and gets the same with C John Sullivan who turns 33-years old in August after signing a two-year deal in March.
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks DL John Franklin-Myers
It’s always tough with the guys outside of D1. They’re not on ESPN or network broadcasts on Saturdays in the fall, so their exposure is limited to hardcore draftniks who seek out their tape. As much as I love the draft, I don’t do much work on the prospects out of these schools, so I know next to nothing about the guy except what I read in the immediate aftermath of our picking him. See you in camp, JFM!
Virginia Cavaliers ILB Micah Kiser
This one was a popular one from the go. I had this as an option at 87, so obviously I’m behind it 60 picks later. Should be interesting to see how the Rams’ defense takes shape over the summer and how the linebacking depth chart will shake out.
Oklahoma Sooners EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Another pick that had steam throughout the process, Rams fans are sure to love this one. He’s going to come in with some hype behind him though, and with the depth chart where it’s at I guarantee fans are going to want the moon here. As long as he can contribute at all in 2018, I’d be fine with it. The question really is how things shake out after 2018. Will a combo of Okoronkwo and OLB Samson Ebukam suffice as a starting duo in 2019? This season should give us a glimpse of the answer.
Tennessee Volunteers RB John Kelly
The Rams were always going to be in for a backup after last year’s Lance Dunbar experiment failed. Kelly’s a low-cost, high-upside option that should yield greater dividends. The conflict here is two-fold. One, will he beat out RB Malcolm Brown and RB Justin Davis as the primary backup to RB Todd Gurley? And two, will the Rams make any personnel changes this year or next that could disrupt the current RB depth chart?
Maine Black Bears OL Jamil Demby
See the above comments on Franklin-Myers. Who knows?
Rutgers Scarlet Knights DT Sebastian Joseph
More D-line depth. I like his game in the limited Rutgers football I watched this last year. He’ll be right there with Franklin-Myers in the battle.
Louisville Cardinals OLB Trevon Young
This one’s really interesting too. Probably in the mold of a strongside, but I’ll let Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips take over and do what he does.
TCU Horned Frogs LB Travin Howard
SMU Mustangs Edge Justin Lawler
Lawler is our 2018 Rams-specific Mr. Irrelevant. Always a tough road for seventh-rounders, but there’s certainly an obvious potential light at the end of the tunnel here.
It was never going to be a splashy class. The Rams never needed it to be after the splashiness of the trades that they pulled off since the 2017 season ended.
They brought in solid candidates to work on for a post-Whitworth, post-Sullivan O-line. They filled out the linebacking need albeit a bit too thoroughly for my tastes, but Day 3 picks aren’t ever something to complain about. And Snead tossed in a backup running back and some defensive line talent.
The Rams were already built to compete in 2018. This crop will have a four-year window through the 2021 season to contribute through. Unlike so many other classes for the Rams and the rest of the NFL this year, this group isn’t going to be asked to do much this year comparatively. We won’t know what kind of players these guys will grow into for a couple of seasons (I’m gonna grade the class anyway cause the internet needs to eat), and that’s fine.
In a draft that was low on difficulty for the Rams, they likely passed if only because they’re handing things to a very capable coaching staff.
Time to begin closing up the draft machine and getting ready for the offseason in earnest as we head toward late July and training camp and the highest expectations for a season of Rams football in more than a decade and a half.