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Grading the Los Angeles Rams’ 2019 NFL Draft class

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3k’s report card for the Rams’ 2019 draft haul

Washington Huskies S Taylor Rapp celebrates after beating the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Championship, Dec. 2, 2016.
Washington Huskies S Taylor Rapp celebrates after beating the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Championship, Dec. 2, 2016.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Well, it’s done.

The Los Angeles Rams navigated the 2019 NFL Draft to come up with this draft class:

2019 NFL Draft LA Rams Order

Rd # Rd# Pick Player POS School
Rd # Rd# Pick Player POS School
2 61 29 Via Chiefs Taylor Rapp S Washington
3 70 6 Via Buccaneers Darrell Henderson RB Memphis
3 79 15 Via Falcons David Long CB Michigan
3 97 33 Via Patriots Bobby Evans OL Oklahoma
4 134 32 Via Patriots Greg Gaines DT Washington
5 169 31 Rams pick David Edwards OT Wisconsin
7 243 29 Via Patriots Nick Scott S Penn State
7 251 37 Comp pick Dakota Allen LB Texas Tech

Washington Huskies S Taylor Rapp

61st overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: A-

You might have been able to justify this pick at 31. You certainly could have after the Rams traded down to 45. And to 56. And then to 61.

The Rams traded down three times to begin their draft class stacking up mid-draft picks en route to taking Rapp. While I’m not taking the value of the added draft capital into consideration for this pick, I have to take into consideration where in the draft it occurred.

To get a player of Rapp’s skill level and production outside the top 60 at a position of upcoming (and only upcoming based on how long S Eric Weddle can deny his eventual decline) roster gap has to slide into the A range.

Memphis Tigers RB Darrell Henderson

70th overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: A-*

Obviously, there are two sides to this pick.

On one, it’s a selection in a vacuum. In that aspect, it’s a very good pick. The Rams got a top running back prospect in the part of the draft you should take top running back prospects. Yes the Rams had to trade up in order to get here, but it was a package of two picks in the 90s. In and of itself, a fine pick worthy of a second A- grade.

On the other side, an asterisk. One that notes that a year ago, this pick would have been unthinkable. Hell, heading into Week 15 last December it would have been unthinkable. But credit the Rams for treating things (privately...) with the sincerity it now obviously deserves. The Rams can’t rely on Todd Gurley the way they have before. Their hands forced, the Rams had to have a running back that would limit Gurley’s action. They never trusted Malcolm Brown to be that back. They weren’t willing to commit to C.J. Anderson to be it. In the end, Henderson is the best option of the bunch. It’s just a shame that the best option wouldn’t have even been an option until recently.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When it gives you rotten lemons, buy lemonade.

Michigan Wolverines CB David Long

79th overall pick
Rams fans grade: A
3k’s grade: A

I really like this pick, but it’s somewhat conditional on how the Rams play next offseason. Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Troy Hill, Dominique Hatfield, Kevin Peterson and Donte Deayon are all scheduled to become free agents. The only outside cornerback on the Rams heading into the draft not scheduled to become a free agent next year is Darious Williams.

So part of my A grade for Long is conditional on finding the right pairing for him. I think that could be Peters. I wouldn’t be opposed to an option not on the team right now as well. But it has to be a talent match that pairs more fluid skills with Long’s direct physicality. The Rams had a pairing like that that was one of the best in the NFL with Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. The Rams opted not to pay either on a multi-year contract but have rebuilt their cornerback depth chart well nonetheless.

On his own, Long’s a fine addition to the CB depth chart. But the 2020 CB depth chart is going to require significant work either in retention (something the Rams have been hesitant to do in meeting market rates for defensive backs in the last handful of years) or in adding new talent.

Long’s production and performance might depend more on that upcoming work than his individual development alone.

Oklahoma Sooners OT Bobby Evans

97th overall pick
Rams fans grade: B
3k’s grade: C-

Evans isn’t a bad prospect and the value here is fine. I’m just not sure I get it.

Is he a project the Rams intend to develop as a possible replacement for LT Andrew Whitworth? If so, two things. One, I’m not a huge fan of his skill set for this line at the position. He’s a bit more of a plodder than an athlete, and I’m don’t think that’s at all what we need at LT. Second, I don’t feel comfortable at all with the idea of a long-term LT solution coming at #97. If he pans out, that’s fine. But a starting left tackle role is one that deserves more of an investment.

Is he a right tackle? Many suggested so going into the draft. We just signed RT Rob Havenstein to a long-term extension. Not sure that makes much sense.

The obvious option here would be to kick him inside to right guard, but at what time? Does RG Austin Blythe get this year and then the Rams move to Evans? Was Blythe so bad as to require a replacement option and not get a second year to prove his viability beyond Sullivan alongside him?

I dunno, this one just seemed a bad fit for skill, value and timing. Evans is the kind of prospect that for another team at another pick at another time could get an A. But not for the Rams, not at #97 and not in 2019.

Washington Huskies DT Greg Gaines

134th overall pick
Rams fan grade: B
3k’s grade: A

This one sounds like a prospect the Rams isolated at value late in the draft for a specific role. Now we’ll have to see how sincere General Manager Les Snead was in his comments last night, but it certainly sounds like he’s going to be given the initial chance to earn the spot vacated by DL Ndamukong Suh leapfrogging DL Sebastian Joseph-Day.

If the Rams truly did get an immediate starter here, that’s a B at a minimum. To get one on the D-line brings it up at least one notch to B+. But I’ll buy Gaines’ skill-set ESPECIALLY with DL Aaron Donald next to him.

Now one thing I’d note? His limitations. He’s not athletic and he’s not quick. He’s a run-blocking offensive lineman at DT. But he can learn a TON from DL Michael Brockers and help immediately in the run. He might be a deficiency in the pass game early on, but the Rams have room for that.

Wisconsin Badgers OT David Edwards

169th overall pick
Rams fans grade: B
3k’s grade: B-

It’s hard/unfair to grade picks once you get this deep in the draft. Yes, Edwards might compete for OL depth. Yes, he will certainly compete for special teams work.

But what are we even grading here? His OL skills? If they were better, he would have gone in the top 150. So I can’t give him a grade on that spectrum alone. He’s being drafted at 169. He’s a fine candidate for 169. See you in camp.

Penn State Nittany Lions S Nick Scott

243rd overall pick
Rams fans grade: B
3k’s grade: ?

Texas Tech Red Raiders LB Dakota Allen

251st overall pick
Rams fans grade: A
3k’s grade: ?

243 and 251? Cmon...there’s no rubric here.

I GIVE THEM BOTH A+’s.


Overall Grade: B+

For the last two drafts, the Rams have suffered, in a good way, from the condition of their roster. They’ve not needed any starters. They’ve not needed to draft for immediate talent. And they’ve not needed to draft at positions of top value.

Credit General Manager Les Snead for getting them to that point, but also acknowledge the level of difficulty is much lower then.

I gave last year’s class a B+. They had very little impact outside of special teams.

I’m giving this year’s class. They might well have very little impact outside of special teams.

And when we hit the three-year mark on both, there might not be many left from either class to re-grade at a time when we do so based on how they’ve panned out in the NFL and not based on projections and conjecture.

So much like roster “needs,” these grades are VERY different than say the grades for the Oakland Raiders’ draft class. Or the Arizona Cardinals’. Their draft classes need to come in and immediately contribute. Three years in, they’ll need their classes to lift their teams. That’s just not the case with the Rams and our last two classes.

And that’s a good thing.

But as I look at it for a roster that already has the immediate contributors and has invested in the young and mid-level veterans to lift the team, it’s a fine draft that can fill some roster gaps beyond 2019 and perhaps hit on a talent or two to develop in their own right.

The worst thing you can do is force a draft. Try cramming a square peg through a circular hole and you’re left with shrapnel.

Snead has done a fine job playing the last two drafts for what they were. He knew where the team was, build-wise. He knew where they were time-wise. And he knew the best approach wasn’t to force it.

And knowing is half the battle.