During the 2017 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams found a diamond in Round 3, drafting Cooper Kupp with the 69th overall pick. From 2014-2016, Cooper Kupp’s college production was near-historic. He amassed 335 receptions, 4,773 receiving yards, 52 touchdowns in his final three years at Eastern Washington.
The reason that Kupp fell on draft boards was because of his lack of perceived athletic ability. Kupp ran a 4.62 40-yard dash. He managed only a 31” vertical jump. His broad jump was 9’8”. Overall, Kupp’s ranked 44th out of 56 WRs in terms of athleticism score at the 2017 NFL Combine.
His Relative Athletic Score was 5.00.
They're also joined by Cooper Kupp, who makes his first pro bowl in 2021 after a record setting season, among the best all time.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) December 26, 2021
Kupp had a dead average #RAS coming out of college, but that hasn't limited him in the least with Matthew Stafford throwing to him. pic.twitter.com/VZ0ntfMFrB
Since finding Cooper Kupp in the draft, the Rams scouting has leaned in the direction of drafting players with more college production versus prioritizing athletic players. Those players include Brian Allen, Taylor Rapp, Darrell Henderson, David Long Jr., Bobby Evans, David Edwards, Van Jefferson, and Tutu Atwell. Of those names, Henderson may have had the best career as a Ram. At best, the Rams have had lukewarm success when selecting talent in Rounds 2-4 since Cooper Kupp. The jury is still out on Cam Akers, Logan Bruss, and Ernest Jones.
In comparison, a player like Decobie Durant did not have elite or even above average college production. However, his combine athleticism score was 13th out of 58 defensive backs.
VIDEO: @LHS_SilverFoxes product Decobie Durant (@One4_era) going through drills at the #NFLCombine yesterday.— Gabe McDonald (@GabeMcDonald_) March 7, 2022
Representing not only @SCState_Fb but all HBCUs on the big stage! @SCStateAthletic @HBCUGameday
: NFL Network pic.twitter.com/FlBnWF6vI7
Cam Akers also scored well in his NFL combine process, ranking 3rd among 2020 eligible running backs. While he has yet to break out, Akers has showed playmaking ability to change a game. Look no further than his 2020 Wild Card performance @ Seattle. His final five game stretch in 2022 was among the league’s best and there is hope that he can resume that type of production in the 2023-2024 league year.
With such few hits over the last five drafts, perhaps the Rams need to reconsider the way the weigh their prospects on the draft board. After the losses and departures of Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wagner, Greg Gaines, and company, there is a need to restock the roster with more athletic and dynamic players. Attempting to fill vacancies with role players or average athletes will not help this team get back to the Super Bowl in the near future.
I suggest that Los Angeles use their second, third, and fourth round draft picks on players with above-average athleticism. LA can then use their later round draft picks to fill out the roster with players that quality college tape and sound production on the field, aka a Jordan Fuller.
Just as there was risk from 2018-2022 in surrendering draft picks for dynamic players, the Rams will need to consider rolling the dice with a handful of this year’s draft picks to find athletic game-changers in just a few weeks…
Are the Rams overvaluing college production?
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