I fell behind on popular rap music over the last decade, so let me stabilize the concept of this article by referencing hip hop hits of the 2010s so that I can update my references to being more relevant than Ludacris and Eminem.
In the year of “Work Out” by J. Cole, it was Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson.
In the year of “F**kin’ Problems” by A$AP ROCKY, it was Zac Stacy.
In the year of “Studio” by ScHoolboy Q, it was Tre Mason.
In the year of “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap, it was Todd Gurley.
In the year of “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott, it was John Kelly.
In another year of “Sicko Mode” (I’m using Billboard’s year-end charts for rap airplay songs and this one finished in the top-10 in back-to-back years), it was Darrell Henderson.
In the year of “The Box” by Roddy Ricch, it was Cam Akers.
And in the year of “RAPSTAR” by Polo G, it was Jake Funk.
We know that there will be more rap hits in 2022. We also know that Drake will be featured on 48 of them. We don’t know who the LA Rams will draft yet, but given the circumstances, we could probably guess that Les Snead is going to consider a running back.
Since becoming general manager in the year of J. Cole, Snead has drafted nine running backs in 10 years. The end result of those picks is roughly the career of Gurley on the bright side and “everybody else” on the other side. With the news that Cam Akers will be out for the 2021 torn Achilles, the Rams lose the second-best draft decision among these nine names, but we can’t be sure how he will perform when he does return.
There’s nothing that LA can do to change that before the 2022 NFL Draft, so will Snead consider using a day two pick on yet another running back?
I can cut to the best answer before it makes it to the comments: “Let’s see what happens in 2021 first. GEEZ!”
Yep, we will have to see how the 2021 season plays out before we can make any hard determinations about next year’s draft.
So instead I will lay out the facts that we do know:
- No active running backs on the roster were drafted other than Darrell Henderson and seventh round rookie Jake Funk. There is a myth that teams can find productive running backs “off the street” and that you don’t even need to spend a draft pick on a running back in order to find ones capable of starting. It’s strange to see so many smart people repeat myths like this one, but it happens. Of the top 45 players in rushing yards from 2010-2020, only five were undrafted: LeGarrette Blount, Arian Foster, Chris Ivory, Fred Jackson, Isiaah Crowell. The top 10 players in rushing yards were all drafted in the top three rounds, and five of the top 10 were drafted in the first round.
- Xavier Jones, Raymond Calais, and Otis Anderson went undrafted.
- No running backs in the top 40 of rushing yards during that time were drafted in the seventh round. The highest ranked seventh round running backs would be Ahmad Bradshaw, Rashad Jennings, Chris Carson, and Justin Forsett.
- Cam Akers is returning from a torn Achilles, one of the most difficult injuries to recover from. (But I do think he’ll return and be fine, because he’s young and more talented than most of the other backs who suffered the same injury.)
- Darrell Henderson has been underwhelming over his first two NFL seasons and he will be entering a contract year in 2022.
- Les Snead has drafted nine running backs in the last 10 years, including five in the first three rounds.
Among the top 2022 draft prospects are Breece Hall, Isaiah Spiller (pictured), Jerrion Ealy, and Sincere McCormick.
Without even knowing what happens next season, I believe the odds are higher for the Rams than most teams when it comes to whether or not they’ll draft a running back in 2022. Though LA doesn’t have a first round pick, they should be stocked with compensatory selections again, including a third rounder for the hiring of Brad Holmes by the Detroit Lions.
It’s safe to believe that the Rams won’t go into 2022 without some insurance for the scenario where Akers doesn’t return by the start of next season. And that also likely increases the odds of one of the early picks being a running back.
Now, what are the odds that Ludacris will top the charts again in 2022?