It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Rams and general manager Les Snead knocked the 2023 NFL Draft out of the park back in April. The team’s success in the draft is one of the primary reasons for their quick turnaround in what was supposed to be a re-tooling or rebuilding season.
The NFL Draft is something that’s always looked at with hindsight. One way that is done is with re-draft columns. It’s hard to know exactly what a player will be until about their third year as that is when they usually begin to reach their potential. However, at this point in their rookie seasons we have an idea on who some of the standouts players are so far.
With the Rams getting as much early-return and value as they did in their draft class, if the draft were to take place next week, it is very possible that some of the players that they selected later on end up being selected much earlier than they were actually drafted.
The 33rd Team’s Marcus Mosher did a 2023 NFL Draft do-over and that’s exactly what happened. Mosher had two Rams draft picks going back-to-back in the first round. With the 16th overall pick, Mosher had the Washington Commanders taking Steve Avila and then the New England Patriots taking wide receiver Puka Nacua at 17th overall.
About Avila going to the Commanders, Mosher said,
“You can make a case that the Washington Commanders need to use this pick on defense, but the Commanders’ interior offensive line needs a ton of work. Steve Avila can play four positions and has looked good in Los Angeles. Taking a guard at No. 16 might feel a bit rich, but the interior offensive line for Washington has been an issue all season.”
Mosher continued with Nacua going to the Patriots, saying,
“The New England Patriots have needed a play-maker at receiver for years, but they’ve been unable to find one in the draft. Puka Nacua would be a perfect fit in Bill O’Brien’s offense because he can play every receiver spot and easily create separation against man coverage. More explosive receivers will be selected later in Round 1, but Nacua has been the most productive to date.”
CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson actually had Byron Young also being selected in the first round taken by the Commanders in a recent re-draft as well. Wilson did not have Avila going in the first-round, but had Nacua being taken by the New York Giants with the 24th overall pick.
Snead drafting three players that would potentially get first-round consideration eight months later is a testament to the draft class that the Rams walked away with back in April. It shows a fantastic scouting job from Snead that he found three potential first-round players despite not having a first-round pick.
Who knows if these players would have had the same success in other situations. Avila likely has success almost anywhere, but does Nacua? Nacua has been impressing since OTAs, but he was a perfect fit for the Rams scheme and the perfect player to work alongside Cooper Kupp. The fifth-round pick probably doesn’t have the same success in New England where they’ve struggled to run a competent offense the past two years.
Meanwhile, without Leonard Floyd, there was a opportunity for Young on the Rams defense. He’s also gotten favorable matchups with Aaron Donald taking a lot of attention from offenses. Does Young have that same success in Washington where he initially would have been behind Chase Young and Montez Sweat?
The NFL Draft is complicated and player success is largely based on situation, coaching, scheme, and player fit as much as it is based on talent.
That type of draft class is exactly what the Rams needed as they head into the 2024 and 2025 seasons. Snead has gotten some criticism for past draft classes which is warranted to an extent. However, one or two really good draft classes can have a significant impact and that’s exactly what happened with the Rams and their 2023 class.