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Could Rams 2018 draft class be considered a success?

Or did the 11 picks not turn in enough value?

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Los Angeles Rams v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

On Monday, The Athletic’s Larry Holder posted an article ranking all 32 teams based on the production they’ve gotten so far from the 2018 draft class. Now, the article references Pro-Football-Reference’s AV (adjusted value) metric as the basis for its ranking, so that alone should tip you off that the order doesn’t really matter that much.

But I think the piece does open up an intriguing discussion about whether or not the LA Rams should consider their mystifying 2018 class as a “success” or not.

First off, here is a snapshot of the class via The Athletic.

Second, time for memory lane:

The Rams traded their first and sixth round picks (23rd and 198th) to the Patriots for Brandin Cooks and pick 136. Cooks should be accounted for when grading LA’s 2018 class because that’s how they chose to use the rights to their first round pick. I don’t see any other argument, and it’s also understandable if you see that as a negative.

Cooks helped the Rams reach the Super Bowl but also cost them a lot of money, even after they traded him to the Texans for a second round pick. The trade-off with losing a 2018 first is that they eventually gained a 2020 second, a difference of 34 spots in the draft.

Next, LA was without its second round pick (56th) because of a trade the previous year for Sammy Watkins. They also gained pick 195 in the 2018 draft in this deal.

Finally, the Rams traded their third round pick to move down two spots because the Raiders had to have Arden Key. LA added a sixth round pick in the process. After all that, the Rams didn’t make their first selection in the 2018 draft until 89th overall. This fact is important to me when looking strictly at what opportunities LA had in the 2018 draft and then judging how well they did given their capital.

The Rams get credit and blame for the trades to acquire Cooks and Watkins, but then I also cut them some slack for how well they did in the draft alone based on having the second-least amount of draft capital in the league according to Pro Football Rumors.

Without a first or second rounder, the Rams left 2018 with 11 draft picks and while that gave them only longshot avenues towards finding any superstars, it should have at least helped them find two or three starters. Did it?

3.89. Joe Noteboom, OL

4.111 Brian Allen, C

4.135 John Franklin-Myers, DL

5.147 Micah Kiser, LB

5.168 Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB

6.176 John Kelly, RB

6.192 Jamil Demby, OL, 6.192

6.195 Sebastian Joseph-Day, DL

6.205 Trevon Young, DL

7.231 Travin Howard, LB

7.244 Justin Lawler, DL

Bright Side:

Noteboom has had positive moments when healthy, especially when filling in for Andrew Whitworth at left tackle last season. While he has not proven himself to even have earned a starting job last year, it is hard to find starting tackles outside of the top-50 and he still has that potential.

If not for injuries, Kiser too could have earned more starts by now. He had his moments in 2020, but missed seven games and a few tackles. Kiser appears in line to start in Week 1.

It would be easy to find disappointment in the fact that Joseph-Day has been the most reliable player in this Rams draft class thus far. But don’t overlook the most important fact of all: sixth round picks are not supposed to be as good as Joseph-Day. He’s arguably the best player from the 2018 sixth round and there would only be two or three other players in the conversation.

Same injury story for Howard, though he might be starting next to Kiser in Week 1. Again, that’s unexpected from any seventh round pick, many of whom are out of the NFL or soon will be.

Down Side:

Well, it’s hard to ignore that some of these players who are getting time with the Rams might have been cut by teams that had better starters or depth. One case might be Okoronkwo, who has 2.5 sacks in three years but where else was LA going to turn to last season for those snap scraps?

Injuries have plagued this entire class.

Cooks was a two-year rental and that’s twice as long as Watkins.

Despite using 11 picks, there might not actually be a single 2021 starter among them. In most of the cases, it may not even be good news if they did earn a starting job.


Including trades for Cooks and Watkins, is the Rams 2018 draft class a "success"?

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