The NFL Draft begins three weeks from Thursday in Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams are scrambling to figure out what moves they’ll be making to fix the roster. General Manager Les Snead has his work cut out for him this offseason after all the transactions he’s made to create cap space.
Snead has been LA’s GM since 2012. In that span, he has drafted superstars like Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald along with selecting some real blunders who have stunted his team’s progress. I will caution that this article IS NOT meant as a Les Snead hit piece. I’ve already run into those acquisitions earlier this offseason so I’m a little wary of running into Mr. Snead on the street.
Related: Les Snead belongs on hot seat if Rams have another rough season
Every general manager has made questionable decisions in the draft. The draft isn’t an exact science so it’s impossible for anyone to nail all the moves they make. LA hasn’t drafted in the first round since 2016 and this is what Snead’s overall body of work in that round looks like:
Les Snead has been the #Rams GM since 2012.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 29, 2021
His first round picks include: Tavon Austin [who he traded up to get at 8th overall], Alec Ogletree, Greg Robinson, Todd Gurley and Jared Goff.
The only star has been Aaron Donald.
He also traded away 1st round picks from 2017-2021 pic.twitter.com/WSiVgVz4AU
Todd Gurley was a star for two years Dov but you’re not the focus of my post. Instead, I’ll be taking a look at three of the biggest draft busts selected by Les Snead. A bust in this exercise is a player drafted within the first couple rounds. I’ve only included players who have been in the NFL for at least three seasons so for anyone praying to see Tutu Atwell on here, you’re in the wrong place. Now that you know the rules, let’s get down to it!
Tavon Austin, 2013 (Round: 1 / Pick: 8)
If you thought fans were divided over the selection of Tutu Atwell, than you’ve never seen anyone as divisive as Tavon Austin. Either Austin is is deemed a bust or is revered as a player who was wasted on bad Rams teams. Both are true as he had reasonable production in spots whether as a pass catcher/rusher/returner.
#Rams WR Tavon Austin is NOT a BUST— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) January 4, 2016
2013: 849 Tot Yards 6 TDS
2014: 857 Tot Yards 3 TDS
2015: 1,199 Tot Yards 10 TDS
That’s nice and all but for someone who was the first receiver taken in his draft, Tavon’s production didn’t match that of a top-10 pick. It was never close. The 2013 draft is the worst in recent memory. Austin along with every wideout taken failed to match the resume of the most productive member of that draft class. Saddest part is that he was very close to becoming a Ram.
Deandre Hopkins on the @PatMcAfeeShow said the Rams told him in 2013 they were gonna draft him or Tavon Austin. They ended up taking Tavon because of his speed.— HoldenCantor (@HoldenCantor) March 8, 2023
2 Hindsight on #Rams GM Les Snead’s Drafts...— Chad Forbes (@NFLDraftBites) January 30, 2019
‘13 Traded Up to select Tavon Austin. Days prior working out DeAndre Hopkins (went 27th). If Rams couldn’t trade up, would’ve taken Nuke 16th. Agent sold Rams that Tavon was Percy Harvin 2.0
‘14 Greg Robinson > Jake Matthews. Why???
Being drafted onto a Jeff Fisher team means that offensive creativity is nonexistent. Once Austin was given the opportunity to play for an offensive genius, it was too late. Austin played under Sean McVay for one season but never fit his offense and was traded to the Cowboys a year later.
It’s unfortunate to call Tavon Austin a bust, yet that’s the reality of his situation. For a player unable to live up to his draft billing along with being in the same class as one of the best pass catchers of his era wasn’t ideal. Snead and the Rams clearly whiffed on this pick.
Greg Robinson, 2014 (Round: 1 / Pick: 2)
This draft will be forever known as the one that produced Aaron Donald. What it’s also remembered for is having one of the worst picks in Rams history being taken just 11 picks before Donald. Greg Robinson never panned out for the Rams and he will always be linked to his draft counterparts taken early.
2014 NFL Draft on ESPN— Joel Hundelt (@hondo_10_84) April 23, 2020
1. Jadeveon Clowney, Texans
2. Greg Robinson, Rams
3. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
4. Sammy Watkins, Bills
5. Khalil Mack, Raiders
6. Jake Matthews, Falcons
7. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
What a joke of a franchise. #Rams
Yes I know they took Donald later. Still.
Thank goodness they never took Blake Bortles to be their QB of the future. Think about that the next time you want to crap on Jared Goff. Although LA did end up signing Bortles as a backup in 2020. Yes I’m ashamed to admit I have his jersey buried deep in the back of my closet.
Anywho, the Rams needed offensive line help (among other things) heading into this draft. What fans wished had happened instead was a legendary pairing of two perennial All-Pros.
In the 2014 NFL draft, the Rams took Aaron Donald at 13. They also had the number 2 overall pick and fhose Greg Robinson... instead of Khalil Mack.— Bruce Irons - Packers FTW (@BruceIronsNFL) January 23, 2020
I couldn't imagine what the Rams would have looked like if they had Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack on rookie deals.
Imagine how productive and lethal that pairing would have been. No quarterback in their right mind would have taken the field against them. Robinson played just three years with the Rams before being traded to the Lions for a sixth-round pick prior to the 2017 season. It all worked out for the franchise in the long run as they got the productive lineman they expected Robinson to be in free agency. The rest as the kids say, is history.
I cannot say this enough. Upgrading from Greg Robinson to Andrew Whitworth is the single biggest reason for the Rams turnaround AFTER the McVay hiring.— Rams Talk (@realLARamsTalk) March 16, 2022
Given the high selection, players available and lack of time spent with the team that originally drafted him, Greg Robinson is easily the worst pick of the Les Snead era. It’s really not even remotely close for a guy who was deemed a “can’t miss” prospect in that year’s draft.
Gerald Everett, 2017 (Round: 2 / Pick: 44)
Everett belongs on this list because he never lived up to his full potential in LA. Being incredibly unreliable and unproductive will do that.
Gerald started only 13 games with the Rams while appearing in 67 total, counting the playoffs. Expected to be a game-changing tight end in McVay’s offense, Everett posted just 1,389 yards and eight scores in four years with the team, never amassing more than 500 receiving yards in any of those campaigns.
Everett’s lack of setting himself apart opened the door for fellow tight end Tyler Higbee. In 2019, Higbee started all but one of LA’s games, making the most of his opportunities with Gerald out of the lineup due to injury.
In Gerald Everett’s absence, #Rams Tyler Higbee leads all NFL TEs in these categories over the past 2 weeks:— Evan Silva (@evansilva) December 10, 2019
* Targets (19)
* Catches (14)
* Air Yards (188)
* Yards after catch (103)
* Actual Yards (223)
* Next up #Cowboys, who’ve allowed 6th-most catches to tight ends.
When it came down to choosing between him or Higbee, Snead made the correct call by letting him walk. Everett obviously had plenty of potential when he was healthy and that was the problem. He could never stay on the field and that’s what led to him signing short contracts with the Seahawks and Chargers after moving on from the Rams. At least his blocking abilities were elite in comparison to his receiving skills.
Dear goodness Gerald Everett. He smoked the defensive end. #Rams pic.twitter.com/E1gLD8ptHj— patrick (@PatDStat) October 4, 2019
Who do you believe is the biggest draft bust since Les Snead took over in 2012?