Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead has the most famous draft strategy in the NFL right now: Stay clear of the first round!
It should be emphasized that Snead is not anti-draft and in fact, the Rams are consistently one of the busiest teams on day three. Snead made seven picks on day three this year and six of them remain on the 53-man roster, with another 12 day three picks sticking around out of the 2018-2021 era.
However, with only two players out of the 2018 class signed to second contracts, and perhaps only two or three getting that consideration out of the 2019 class, it’s worth asking whether or not the Rams have built a long-term foundation through the draft around all of those stars they’re trading first round picks to acquire.
And yes, I will say it before you have to: These draft classes do not include Jalen Ramsey or Matthew Stafford, but they should. Part of Snead’s strategy with picks is to take financial risks with veterans rather than taking the risk of picking another Greg Robinson or Tavon Austin.
But let’s turn our attention to the actual picks. Since 2018, the Rams have picked a lot of players. These are the ones who remain.
Remaining: Joe Noteboom (89th), Brian Allen (111th), Travin Howard (237th)
Notably, all of these players are hurt or injured right now, with Howard on NFI and Allen expected to miss a few weeks. Noteboom should be able to play in Week 2, but his status is in question and this is not the first time it’s been the case for him early in a season during his career.
Compared to how well Les Snead did on day three in 2019, this class had more misses than hits. Only Sebastian Joseph-Day is currently a starter somewhere else. It’s difficult to argue that the Rams found any foundational pieces in the 2018 draft but Noteboom and Allen are hanging around trying to prove that they are.
Remaining: Taylor Rapp (61st), Darrell Henderson (70th), David Long (79th), Bobby Evans (97th), Greg Gaines (134th), David Edwards (169th), Nick Scott (243rd)
There is definitely more to work with here on day three than on day two: Gaines, Edwards, and Scott are three integral starters on L.A.’s roster. Meanwhile, Rapp and Long are more ‘de facto starters’, Evans is a backup in year four, and Henderson may also just be keeping the seat warm at running back until another option is found. Perhaps with Snead making another day two running back pick in 2023.
Remaining: Cam Akers (52nd), Van Jefferson (57th), Terrell Lewis (84th), Terrell Burgess (104th), Brycen Hopkins (136th), Jordan Fuller (199th), Tremayne Anchrum (250th)
We have to be patient with the 2020 class, especially given McVay’s propensity to make players wait for their opportunities, but we also have to be realistic. Is there a single player here that anyone is confident will be on a second contract with the Rams?
Akers is being cited as a resident of McVay’s doghouse, while Lewis, Burgess, Hopkins, and Anchrum have yet to stand out through two seasons and change; Anchrum will get the start at right guard this week against the Falcons, his first opportunity to prove himself worthy of more playing time.
Hopkins did win the second tight end job, but does he have a future as a starter? Lewis had an interception in Week 1, but only played in 23 snaps. Does the team trust him for more than that? Meanwhile, Fuller was once a green dot safety calling plays and he only got 18 snaps in Week 1.
The best hope here might be Jefferson and yet it is a little unclear how many targets he’s going to earn when he returns from injury. The 2020 draft class might have the highest ceiling but also a lower floor than we might have anticipated at the end of 2021.
Remaining: Tutu Atwell (57th), Ernest Jones (103rd), Bobby Brown* (117th), Robert Rochell (130th), Jake Funk (233rd), Ben Skowronek (249th)
We’re still waiting for Tutu’s first NFL catch. Rochell didn’t see the field on defense in Week 1. Brown is suspended for six games. And though Funk will be moved up the depth chart because of Kyren Williams’ injury, does the team trust him with carries? They haven’t so far.
These issues are compounded with the fact that Jacob Harris, Earnest Brown IV, and Chris Garrett are now off of the 53-man roster, with only Brown hanging onto the practice squad.
That leaves Ernest Jones and Ben Skowronek as the early “stand outs” of the class—Skow got 59 snaps in Week 1! Jones played in 58-percent of the snaps, forcing a fumble.
Everyone other than final pick A.J. Arcuri made the roster, but these players are not likely to see the field. Decobie Durant is working on special teams. Logan Bruss, Williams, and Quentin Lake are working through injuries.