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Rams have had struggles with 2nd round picks

Is Les Snead the worst second round drafter in the NFL?

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

When Sean McVay was hired in 2017, the Los Angeles Rams had no first round picks. They have never used a first round pick with McVay as the head coach. The team picked Gerald Everett in the second round that year, then Cooper Kupp and John Johnson in the third round. How have the Rams done on day two since then? Let’s start with the second round.

I compiled an excel sheet of every second round pick by team since 2018. The results are very interesting and though the Rams should rank pretty low by comparison, they definitely are not the worst.

Rams second round picks since 2018: S Taylor Rapp, WR Van Jefferson, RB Cam Akers, WR Tutu Atwell

Teams have done much worse with second round picks than Rapp. Though he drew the ire of fans time and time again over four years, he signed a free agent contract with the Bills this offseason for a reason: To be a complementary third member of the defensive backfield as more teams go to regular three-safety defensive sets.

Rapp compiled 330 tackles and nine interceptions over four years with the Rams, but actually missed most of the 2021 playoffs and late-stage veteran Eric Weddle probably played even better than him in his absence. The team got what they got out of Rapp, unfortunately what they didn’t get was a second-contract safety.

It is looking less and less likely that Jefferson and Akers will receive contracts in 2024 either, barring breakout performances in 2023. Jefferson has had three years to grab a starting role and he just can’t do it, which is even more disappointing given that he entered the NFL at age 24 and with a life spent having a former NFL receiver and receivers coach as a father. Van Jefferson is a lot like the Taylor Rapp of offense, honestly. You know what you’re getting and what you’re getting isn’t terrible, it’s just not starter worthy.

L.A. tried and failed to trade Akers last season.

Atwell didn’t make any catches during his rookie campaign, then he had 18 catches for 298 yards—on 35 targets, which is barely more than 50-percent—in 2022. To his credit, it was a tumultuous year at the quarterback position and the offensive coaching staff. But for Atwell to become a breakout player in year three, he will have to be one of the most unlikely stars in NFL history.

What hurts the most for the Rams though is that their second round picks are their first round picks.

Tennessee Titans v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

It’s a little strange that Les Snead’s staff is the only front office/scouting department in the NFL that does not have to use any time on looking at first round prospects and yet they still hit singles with their second round picks instead of doubles, triples, and home runs. Why is that? Every other team in the NFL has to use up a good percentage of their time looking at first round prospects, meeting with them, going to the combine and pro days and Senior Bowl looking at top-30 prospects. Not the Rams. They should be the MASTERS of day two picks, but instead they have Rapp, Jefferson, Akers, and Atwell.

It’s weird.

But this is all out of context without knowing what else is out there. So how do the Rams compare to the top and bottom-ranked teams for second round picks and their strategies?

The Ravens haven’t gotten ANYTHING out of second round picks

Since 2018, Baltimore has only made two second round picks: Running back J.K. Dobbins and edge rusher David Ojabo. We’ve yet to see the debut of Ojabo, as he fell in the draft because of a torn Achilles suffered during the pre-draft process in March. Dobbins has played in 23 games over the last three years, missing all of 2021 and half of 2022 with injury.

The flipside of this: Baltimore has made 11 third round picks since 2018. They live for compensatory picks. The Ravens have a good reputation for drafting in the first round and later rounds but they’ve steered clear of the second round.

Other teams with three or fewer picks: Raiders, Chargers, Saints, Jets, Commanders

Five teams besides the Ravens have made fewer second round picks in the last five years than the Rams. L.A. has done a good job of getting Nassir Adderly, Uchenna Nwosu, and Asante Samuel with those picks, better than their SoFi counterparts.

The Raiders added Tre’von Moehrig, a good safety, but maybe not a great one. The Saints have done well with linebacker Pete Werner and center Erik McCoy, while waiting on returns for cornerback Alontae Taylor. The Jets whiffed on Denzel Mims and Elijah Moore, then picked running back Breece Hall in 2022. He is recovering from a torn ACL.

Finally, the Commanders have probably done as bad as the Ravens or Rams, getting Derrius Guice, Sam Cosmi, and Phidarian Mathis with their second round picks.

Team with the most second round picks: Colts, with 11

Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard has GONE MAD with second round picks, grabbing 11 players at the start of day two. He’s had hits and misses, but his hits are huge such as linebacker Shaquille Leonard, running back Jonathan Taylor, tackle Braden Smith, and receiver Michael Pittman. They also have promising second-year receiver Alec Pierce and third-year edge Dayo Odeyingbo.

There’s a lot of speculation of how Ballard will use the fourth overall pick, but maybe he’s more anxious to add second round picks because he’s only got #35 so far.

Other Teams with a Lot: Chiefs (8), Bucs (8), Bears (7), Seahawks (6), Eagles (6), Patriots (6)

Kansas City added both Creed Humphrey and Nick Bolton in 2021, two premier starters on a Super Bowl winning roster. Not all of their second round picks are hits, but we’ll see how receiver Skyy Moore develops and if it’s better than Mecole Hardman.

The Patriots added Kyle Duggar and Josh Uche; the Bucs added Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Carlton Davis; the Bears added Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon last year; the Seahawks added DK Metcalf and Ken Walker.

But maybe the team that has had the best second round picks, unsurprisingly, is Philadelphia. Eagles GM Howie Roseman has found not only starting QB Jalen Hurts, but tight end Dallas Goedert, running back Miles Sanders, and interior offensive lineman Landon Dickerson. Last year, the Eagles picked center Cam Jurgens and we’ll see if he pans out, it often takes a year or two before Philly gives their picks a chance to start.

Who did the worst?

Right now, I’ll say either the Raiders or Commanders. Las Vegas has picked P.J. Hall, Trayvon Mullen, and Moehrig. At best, they will get a league above-average safety out of the second round. The Cardinals made five second round picks and the best so far is Christian Kirk, who is no longer on the team. The Browns have made five and are only saved by Nick Chubb. The Lions have made five and are waiting for returns on maybe Josh Paschal, Levi Onwuzurike, or D’Andre Swift. The Texans have Jalen Pitre saving them from despair. The Giants made four picks, highlighted by Azeez Ojulari. The 49ers have done surprisingly mediocre, with Deebo Samuel and Aaron Banks carrying those four picks so far. The Titans traded away easily their best second round pick, A.J. Brown.

I’ll go with the Commanders. At least the Rams are getting some snaps out of their players.

Who did the best?

Credit to Ballard for making so many picks and finding some really good players, even elite ones at certain positions, sometimes. But Howie Roseman only had six picks and he got Hurts, Dickerson, Goedert, Sanders (now in Carolina), and we’ll see about Jurgens. His only miss is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.