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Grading the Los Angeles Rams’ 2018 NFL Draft class

Time for the report card.

Michigan State C Brian Allen prepares to snap the ball against Penn St. in 2017
Michigan State C Brian Allen prepares to snap the ball against Penn St. in 2017
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, let’s just suck it up and do it.

It’s time to grade the Los Angeles Rams2018 draft class.

2018 NFL Draft LA Rams Class

Rd # Rd# Player POS School
Rd # Rd# Player POS School
3 89 25 Joseph Noteboom OT TCU
4 111 11 Brian Allen C Michigan St.
4 135 35 John Franklin-Myers DL Stephen F. Austin
5 147 10 Micah Kiser ILB Virginia
5 160 23 Ogbonnia Okoronkwo EDGE Oklahoma
6 176 2 John Kelly RB Tennessee
6 192 18 Jamil Demby G Maine
6 195 21 Sebastian Joseph DL Rutgers
6 205 31 Trevon Young EDGE Louisville
7 231 13 Travin Howard LB TCU
7 244 26 Justin Lawler DE SMU

TCU Horned Frogs OT Joseph Noteboom

89th overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: A-

I liked the rationale. I liked the approach. I liked the outcome. I like the potential. I like the setup. I like the people in charge.

I like it.

Michigan State Spartans C Brian Allen

111th overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: A

Not much difference between the Noteboom pick and this one on the merits. I’m giving it a higher grade out of position value. Trying to fill a left tackle spot at 87? Difficult (especially for a franchise that tried to do it with Alex Barron at #19 and Jason Smith at #2 and Greg Robinson at #2). Trying to fill a center spot at #111? Much more doable.

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks DL John Franklin-Myers

135th overall pick
Rams fan grade: C
3k’s grade: ? C

I honestly would feel weird giving a grade. We don’t even have a picture of him from our USA Today or Getty photo feeds. Yanno what? Screw honest, rational objectivity. Let’s ride or die as a Ramily. I’m going with a C since yall did.

Virginia Cavaliers ILB Micah Kiser

147th overall pick
Rams fan grade: A
3k’s grade: A

Great position value. Great timing. Just great.

Oklahoma Sooners EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

160th overall pick
Rams fan grade: A
3k’s grade: A+

It’s the 160th overall pick in the draft. I’m not seeing anything to dislike whatsoever.

Tennessee Volunteers RB John Kelly

176th overall pick
Rams fan grade: A
3k’s grade: A-

This was such a good draft it’s getting boring at this point.

Maine Black Bears OL Jamil Demby

192nd overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: ? C+

Gave it the initial struckthrough unknown since I have never seen a single snap of Maine football, but saw Kara Henderson, Rams General Manager Les Snead’s wife, tweet this out last night:

I’m going to leave it for another time, but I do wonder sometimes about an event like the Senior Bowl. Is it more disruptive than it is helpful? Does the proximity of scouts to players and the kind of limitations you get from partial football performances hurt more than it helps? I guess to use Demby specifically as an example for this kind of questioning, does Snead being able to see him at the Senior Bowl and be impressed by him usurp other, more deserving candidates that he might have seen in a more conventional (i.e. tape) process? Does it pervert the decision-making process? Just wondering aloud if the allure of the Senior Bowl helps or hurts in the way it seemingly played out for Demby and Snead.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights DT Sebastian Joseph

195th overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: C-

It will be interesting to see how the Rams use Joseph in the D-line rotation. We know there’s going to be a spot open when DL Ndamukong Suh hits the market next year, but much like the situation at left tackle and center or even S Lamarcus Joyner’s spot, the Rams have a year to develop out of a luxury of roster talent. So perhaps I’m underplaying Joseph, but I’m just going to have to hope there’s more there than what I’ve seen.

Louisville Cardinals OLB Trevon Young

205th overall pick
Rams fan grade: A
3k’s grade: A

Love the upside here. For his skill set, it’s an extremely good buy. The question is that hip injury that he suffered in the final game of the 2015 season, Louisville’s win over Texas A&M in the 2015 Music City Bowl which happened to be then-Louisville and now Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s coming out party.

TCU Horned Frogs LB Travin Howard

231st overall pick
Rams fan grade: A
3k’s grade: B

I like this one as well, I’m just a bit weirded out by fit. This is one where I just put the belief in Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to figure out how to use him.

SMU Mustangs Edge Justin Lawler

244th overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: B

You can do worse at 244. Much worse.

Overall grade: B+

Overall, I thought it was a very fine draft. I perhaps take some discomfort in the bulk linebacker run but that was very back-heavy so I can’t pull the grade down much because of it. Of the top 204 picks in which the Rams had eight picks, only two were linebackers. That they spent three late picks on linebackers? Meh.

The one disclaimer here is that the level of difficulty for this draft was very low. I’d rate a team that hit a B+ draft with more picks in the top 100 of the draft than just one at #87 much, much higher than ours. You know how in diving the difficulty of a dive is multiplied by the score? That’s kind of what’s going on here, and the Rams’ difficulty of their draft dive was just very low. There’s a very good chance that not a single one of these rookies will start on Week 1

And that was always going to be the case. The Rams have drafted well going back to 2012 when Snead was made General Manager. They’ve absolutely destroyed free agency the last two offseasons including their trades. And that has put them in a position where they don’t need to draft talent immediately which of course means they just don’t have much room for draft talent, especially when you start your draft at #87.

As is always the case, the prudent course would be to wait three years to grade a draft. Will Noteboom develop into LT Andrew Whitworth’s or RT Rob Havenstein’s successor? And if he does, will he do so capably? That alone would likely leave the grade at a B- at a minimum. Will any of the linebackers stick? We’ll have to see what the personnel looks like in late March once we’ve gotten past the initial wave of free agency in 2019 and how the departures have set things up. I suppose we’ll also have to see if Snead engineers a major trade that both fills a need with a top talent but also bleeds more draft capital. The Rams are already without their second-round and seventh-round picks in next year’s draft leaving them with just five picks, tied for the fewest in the NFL. The situation will be entirely fluid next year with that gulf between the first- and third- round picks and we’ll have to see how the prospects shape up. If we’re looking at a position of need to address in the first and there’s not a prospect that really fits the bill...yeah. That’s much more difficult.

This year was a springboard. The Rams took a leap. Let’s see where they land.