In one very important way, a free agent class is also the BEST TIME to actually grade a team’s draft class from four years earlier. We all know that fans and media are quick to jump on assessing the quality of a draft within seconds of every pick being made, and we also know how ridiculously, ludicrously wrong those assessments tend to be with hindsight.
But it was easy to predict that NFL analysts would give the L.A. Rams a poor grade in 2018 no matter what they did, because Les Snead wouldn’t be on the board until late in the third round of the draft. The easy thing to do: “Well, must be a bad draft class then!”
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports gave the Rams 2018 draft class a C- grade at the time of completion. When he “updated” it three years later: C+.
How I did: I thought Noteboom and Allen would be eventual replacements for Andrew Whitworth (he’s still playing) and John Sullivan, but Allen has been plagued by injuries. I thought sixth-round running back John Kelly could be a solid backup, but it didn’t work out.
That’s right, Prisco’s main focus was the future and status of John Kelly.
Somehow, beyond comprehension, he overlooked some of the names who were actually starting to show out in the NFL and on Monday, it became even more evident that Snead managed to pile a great draft class in 2018 despite not having a top-80 pick.
After 4 years, I'm now prepared to grade this Rams draft class.— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) March 14, 2022
It was really good. pic.twitter.com/djRhd0TiJi
Before free agency officially begins on Wednesday, the Rams announced new contracts for both Joseph Noteboom (89th overall pick) and Brian Allen (111st). Find 40-percent of your starting offensive line (assuming that’s what Noteboom is being considered now) in the late third and fourth rounds, is an accomplishment in itself.
But the Rams would make nine more picks after Noteboom and Allen, and while one of those already has a huge second contract (not with L.A. though), at least three others should be getting second contracts any moment now.
John Franklin-Myers has been a breakout defensive line star for the New York Jets and they’ve already extended him. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is expected to get a second contract, perhaps not with the Rams if they can manage to keep Von Miller. Sebastian Joseph-Day is guaranteed to get a second deal and he should be one of the highest-paid nose tackles in the NFL soon. And Travin Howard, a restricted free agent could be starting for L.A. in Week 1 of next season.
Additionally, Micah Kiser gave the Rams a few quality starts (and a few other starts), while Justin Lawler and Jamil Demby at least continue to kick around on the practice squad. Even finding players like those can be more difficult than we assume.
Even John Kelly was playing in the NFL last season (with the Browns) and that leaves Trevon Young as the sole 2018 Rams draft pick to not be on a roster in some capacity last year.
How does this compare to the rest of the NFL’s 2018 draft classes, 30 of whom had earlier first draft picks than the Rams?
I’ve compiled all 31 other draft classes and I’ll list out the key names in the parenthesis next to their total number of picks. The Eagles and Ravens had unbelievably outstanding draft classes, but the LA Rams have no shame in standing nearby them with 11 picks and at least five or six second contracts.
Falcons: 6 picks (Ridley, Gage, Oluokun, Oliver)
Bills: 8 picks (Allen, Edmunds, Wyatt Teller, Taron Johnson)
Panthers: 8 picks (Moore, Donte Jackson, Ian Thomas, Carter)
Bears: 7 picks (Roquan, Miller, Daniels, Nichols)
Bengals: 11 picks (Price, Bates, Hubbard, Phillips, Tate)
Browns: 9 picks (Mayfield, Ward, Chubb, Corbett, Callaway, Avery)
Colts: 11 picks (Nelson, Turay, Leonard, Smith, Hines, Lewis, Wilkins, Franklin)
Cardinals: 6 picks (Rosen, Kirk, Cole, Edmonds)
Cowboys: 9 picks (Vander Esch, Williams, Gallup, Schultz, Wilson)
Broncos: 10 picks (Chubb, Sutton, Freeman, Yiadom, Jewell)
Lions: 6 picks (Ragnow, Kerryon Johnson, Walker)
Packers: 11 picks (Jaire Alexander, Valdes-Scantling, Burks, St. Brown
Texans: 8 picks (Akins, Reid)
Jaguars: 7 picks (Bryan, Chark, Harrison, Richardson, Cooke)
Chiefs: 6 picks (Nnadi, Watts, Tremon Smith)
Dolphins: 8 picks (Fitzpatrick, Gesicki, Baker, Smythe, Ballage, Sanders)
Vikings: 8 picks (Hughes, O’Neill, Conklin, Carlson)
Saints: 7 picks (Davenport, Tre’Quan Smith, Boston Scott)
Patriots: 9 picks (Wynn, Michel, Bentley, Berrios)
Giants: 6 picks (Barkley, Hernandez, Hill, Carter)
Jets: 6 picks (Darnold, Shepherd, Herndon, Cannon, Fatukasi)
Titans: 4 picks (Rashaan Evans, Landry, Cruikshank)
Eagles: 5 picks (Goedert, Sweat, Maddox, Pryor, Mailata)
Steelers: 7 picks (Edmunds, Washington, Okorafor, Rudolph, Samuels)
Raiders: 9 picks (Miller, Parker, Key)
Ravens: 12 picks (Hurst, Lamar Jackson, Andrews, Orlando Brown, Kenny Young, Averett, Bozeman, Sieler)
Chargers: 7 picks (James, Nwosu, Justin Jones, White, Quessenberry, Justin Jackson)
Seahawks: 9 picks (Penny, Green, Dissly, Jamarco Jones, Dickson)
49ers: 9 picks (McGlinchey, Warner, Reed, Harris)
Bucs: 8 picks (Vea, Jones II, Davis, Cappa, Whitehead)
Commanders: 8 picks (Payne, Christian)