After losing several key contributors to free agency, the Rams needed to reload and replenish depth at certain positions. Some picks are already expected to compete for starting jobs, but others are considered more developmental-type players.
Here are four initial thoughts on LA’s 2022 draft class:
The acquisition that will help the team most in 2022 won’t be a rookie
Los Angeles traded a fifth round selection in the 2023 draft in order to acquire cornerback Troy Hill from the Cleveland Browns. Hill left the Rams during the 2021 free agency period, and LA earned a sixth round compensatory draft selection in this year’s draft for him leaving. This helps mitigate the trade capital - and Hill is expected to count only $1.5M against the Rams’ salary cap in 2022, which a minimal number for a starting corner.
Hill has the position flexibility to play both inside and outside, and he will give the Rams the continued ability to move Jalen Ramsey around in order to impact as many plays as possible. The veteran corner also provides insurance for the younger corners that are in-line for larger roles this season, David Long, Jr. and Robert Rochell.
Trading for Hill is a huge move for the Rams, and the cost to acquire him is truly minimal. While this transaction should not overshadow the draft class, it’s realistic to expect the veteran to be more impactful than any rookie in 2022.
If LA truly expects Logan Bruss to compete for starting job at RG, this is a homerun selection
Sean McVay said Logan Bruss will compete to start at right guard. No surprise there.— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) April 30, 2022
It’s difficult for a rookie selected in any round of the NFL Draft to immediately compete for a starting job on a Super Bowl winning team, and this is especially true for the Rams who do not have many holes in the starting lineup.
Even though the Rams lost right guard Austin Corbett to the Carolina Panthers in free agency, they still have trusted players such as Coleman Shelton, Tremayne Anchrum, and Bobby Evans that have experience in the Rams’ offense and could step in as a starter. Adding Logan Bruss to the mix is intriguing, and the selection could fill one of only a few positions where there will be competition for a starting role. This is especially impressive for a late third round draft choice.
It’s entirely possible that Bruss needs more time before he can take over starting duties, but he seems to be on a trajectory similar to that of other day two and three picks by the Rams: Rob Havenstein, Joseph Noteboom, David Edwards, and Brian Allen.
If Bruss comes close to winning the starting job at right guard, this should still be considered a smart selection by Les Snead and company.
The Rams went heavy on defense - and that’s ok
Outside of right guard and rotational roles at running back and tight end, there’s not a lot of playing time up for grabs on the Rams offense. LA is returning second round draft choice Tutu Atwell, as well as his fellow members of the 2021 draft class in Jacob Harris (fourth round), Ben Skowronek (seventh round), and Jake Funk (seventh round).
So considering Los Angeles lost Darious Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Obo Okoronkwo to free agency, it makes sense that the Rams would need to onboard a wealth of fresh defensive talent in 2022.
The Rams go back to back on DBs - pick 212 is Georgia CB Derion Kendrick. Staff reaction seems pretty stoked about these last two picks.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) April 30, 2022
Decobie Durant provides inside/outside flexibility at corner, though he is a bit undersized. Los Angeles drafted another cornerback in Derion Kendrick as well as two safeties, Quentin Lake and Russ Yeast. While the Rams don’t need these individuals to contribute immediately, based on LA’s track record it’s fair to expect at least one of these four defensive backs to be a pleasant surprise.
Daniel Hardy, a seventh round edge defender from Montana State seems to be a developmental pass rusher with a promising athletic profile.
Hitting on picks late isn't easy, but you can increase your odds by drafting athletes. pic.twitter.com/dQ9PzpdA5h— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) April 30, 2022
LA surprised by not selecting a punter
The team signed veteran Riley Dixon after his release from the New York Giants. While it was expected the Rams would bring in a rookie to compete with Dixon as the replacement to Johnny Hekker, Snead elected to not use any draft capital on a dedicated special teamer.
It’s unlikely that any marginal improvement over a competent veteran like Dixon would be the difference between the Rams winning and losing a game, so now is not the time to panic. Los Angeles is still finalizing contracts with undrafted free agents, and a punter should be included in the mix. Hekker was also acquired by the team initially as a college free agent.
Bears take P Trent Gill. That's four punters drafted. Rams looking at the punter scraps!— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) April 30, 2022