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Rams stock up, stock down following NFL Draft

Cobie Durant figures to be team’s No. 1 cornerback

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams added 14 players in the 2023 NFL Draft and the roster will now be nearly half-stocked with rookie prospects.

Sean McVay has to rebuild a team that went 5-12 last season into a playoff contender this season despite this lack of experience, but also the players on the Rams who were already on the roster must keep their jobs. Some will find themselves with difficult competition and assignments, while others may have an even more open door towards a bigger role in 2023.

This is how their stocks were affected by the 2023 draft.

Stock Up

1. Cobie Durant

If anyone received a vote of confidence after the draft it was Cobie Durant. Los Angeles only selected two defensive backs, one cornerback and one safety. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson was picked in the sixth round and figures to compete for the starting nickel corner spot. That leaves Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, and Robert Rochell as the remaining options on the outside. Cobie Durant impressed coaches early in the season before a hamstring injury kept him out in the middle of the year. Once he returned, he continued making impressive plays as a rookie. It appears his first impressions will lead to a significant promotion as he is in line to be the team’s number one cornerback. Could it also lead to Raheem Morris using him in the star role?

2. Cam Akers

Akers is a stock up for two reasons. One, the Rams had an opportunity to draft a running back with one of their Day 2 picks but did not. This reveals that last year’s drama between the running back and Sean McVay is now water under the bridge. Second, Cam Akers gets to run behind 6’3” 330 lbs of Steve Avila. It’s a significant upgrade over the 300 lb Coleman Shelton, who lacks the ability to maul defenders in the run game.

3. Byron Young

Byron Young is the biggest winner from the Rams draft class. With only Michael Hoecht, Keir Thomas, and Daniel Hardy on the roster, LA selected Young in the third round. Due to the inexperience among Thomas and Hardy, Young should have a chance to earn a starting spot across from Michael Hoecht.

4. Aaron Donald

While it wasn’t a guy like Calijah Kancey, Los Angeles was able to get their franchise star some help to rush the passer. LA selected Kobie Turner (Wake Forest) and Desjuan Johnson (Toledo) to join the defensive line. As for edge rushers, the LA Rams added Byron Young (Tennessee), Nick Hampton (Appalachian State), and Ochaun Mathis (Nebraska). Five new bodies at the very least are capable of being a fresh rotation to aid sack-artist Aaron Donald.

5. Les Snead

Time will tell if Les Snead hit a home run and found one or more gems in the draft. But for now, the LA Rams general manager orchestrated a solid game plan. He addressed the trenches, added three edge rushers, two secondary pieces, and depth across offensive positions including a running back in round six with a high ceiling. Snead turned an original 10 draft picks into 14 selections.

Stock Down

1. Coleman Shelton

After re-signing with the team in March, Shelton could be on the verge of losing his starting role. Even if Shelton fends off Steve Avila at guard in training camp, the 2023 second round rookie is bound to start sooner than later because of the Rams remodel. Les Snead and Sean McVay have been on record that they want to develop their draft picks at a more efficient rate.

2. “WR Room”

L.A held a number of pre-draft visits and meetings at the wide receiver position. Following the departures of Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr after the Super Bowl and Allen Robinson’s trade this past offseason, I expected Los Angeles to be aggressive in finding young talent to learn under Cooper Kupp. With Van Jefferson slated for free agency after this year, the room could be even thinner next offseason. In addition, the Rams lost Kupp and Jefferson for portions of the 2022 season.

3. Daniel Hardy

A seventh rounder in 2022, Hardy fought tooth and nail to make the roster. An ankle injury kept him off the field for the majority of the year, cutting into his development time. Even though he has had a full offseason to improve his game, LA used three draft picks (third, fifth, and a sixth) on edge rushers. Hardy will need to make a strong case this training camp and preseason.

4. Hunter Long

Long was acquired in the Jalen Ramsey trade. What remains to be seen is, can he learn McVay’s offense and make an impact in his third NFL season. Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins are clearly ahead of him. But Long now has rookie tight end Davis Allen breathing down his neck.

5. Marquise Copeland / Jonah Williams

Due to the departures of Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson, the Rams have an open vacancy along their defensive line. Incumbents Marquise Copeland and Jonah Williams will now have to fight off third rounder Kobie Turner and seventh rounder Desjuan Johnson. Turner and Johnson were graded by PFF to be two of the six best collegiate defensive linemen in 2022.