Following the draft every year, it’s easy for fans to get excited. New players are joining the squad and for a team that did poorly in 2022 like the Los Angeles Rams, new players is a reason to be excited.
With that said, everyone assumes that rookies will make a big impact, but that typically hasn’t been the case, especially under Sean McVay. Without a first-round pick and most of the Rams selections coming on day three, rookie impact has been minimal at best outside of the rare exception.
Using last year’s class as an example, the Rams were near the bottom of the NFL in rookie snaps played. The only team behind them was the Philadelphia Eagles and they at least had a deep roster. The fact that the Rams had an injury-plagued seasons and still ranked near the bottom of the league speaks volumes.
Right after the draft everyone assumes that rookies will make a big impact for every team, but that isn't always the case. Here is a look at the draft capital used in the 2022 draft (Y axis) and snaps played by rookies (X axis).— Shane Haff (@ShaneHaffNFL) May 2, 2023
What stands out to you? pic.twitter.com/N2lTNO686G
In 2021, it’s much of the same story. The Rams barely got 1,000 snaps from their rookie class with over 70 percent of those snaps dominated by Ernest Jones and Ben Skowronek. The Rams got more production out of the 2020 class, but half of those snaps came from Jordan Fuller.
The 2023 season outlook
Coming into the draft, the outlook for the Rams 2023 season was bleak. The tank for Caleb Williams cries were very loud. Did the Rams go from a 5-6 win team to a 8-10 win team based on this draft class?
Steve Avila should come in and make an immediate impact on the offensive line. However, even with Avila there will be rookie bumps. Take away Avila, and the Rams have 13 rookies who were drafted outside of the top-75 picks in the draft.
There are certainly opportunities for this rookie class. Byron Young should be able to come in and start off of the edge. However, think what you want about Leonard Floyd, Young likely isn’t hitting the 8-10 sack mark as a rookie.
Behind Young, the Rams got a lot of much needed depth. Turner and Hampton could be good rotational players and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson will likely compete to be the starting nickel corner.
This isn’t to say that the players in the 2023 Rams draft class won’t end up being good players that make an impact. The chances of that happening as rookies, however, is unlikely. Young has the build to becomes a solid complimentary edge rusher in the NFL. Hodges-Tomlinson does have the potential to be the steal of the draft in the sixth-round.
This is only the beginning
The point here is that these players aren’t going to hit their ceilings as rookies. At the end of the day, there’s still a reason players like Young, Hampton, Hodges-Tomlinson, etc. fell to where they did in the draft.
A new rookie class brings new excitement. However, not much changed for the Rams in terms of 2023 outlook based solely on the rookie class other than they now have actual edge rushers (in the sense where playing edge is their natural position) and more options on the interior offensive line.
The Rams have announced a class of 24 undrafted free agents. That pairs with a draft class of 14 rookies.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 1, 2023
So LA will now have a whopping 38 rookies on their roster as they look to fill out their depth on both sides of the ball.
Along with the 24 undrafted rookie free agents, the Rams have 38 rookies. With around 82 players set to enter the summer, that makes approximately 46 percent of the Rams roster rookies. This is an extremely young roster and most of those rookies are day three picks or undrafted free agents.
The 2023 season is going to be an interesting one given much of the uncertainty outside of a handful of players. While a new rookie class brings excitement, expectations need to be tempered when it comes to how much an impact they will actually have in year one.