Los Angeles Rams general manger Les Snead has take his fair share of criticism on past draft classes. However, needing a good draft class to help set the Rams up for the future, the 2023 rookies look promising. Led by Steve Avila on the offensive line and Byron Young on defense, the Rams look to have a solid group of players.
Despite a promising class of 14 rookies, the media and draft experts seem to be a lot lower on the class than the fanbase.
Every year Football Outsiders does a consensus draft report card in which they gather grades from all of the experts to come up with one grade for each team. This year, Football Outsiders collected draft grades from 21 experts and the Rams ended up ranking 23rd in the NFL in the consensus grades.
Who Gave the Rams an A- Draft Grade?
NFL.com’s Chad Reuter and PFF gave the Rams their highest grades with an A-.
Here’s what Reuter had to say about the Rams draft class,
“The team added more picks through various Day 2 trades. Adding Avila bolsters the interior of the offensive line, while Young’s closing ability gives him a chance to become an effective edge defender...Bennett was underrated as a prospect and has enough physical tools and the confidence to be a starter after Stafford retires if he can mature. Hampton and Mathis fit the team’s need at edge, Tomlinson plays stronger than his diminutive size would portend, and McClendon, Allen, Nacua and Evans were all solid picks despite the veterans already on the depth chart.”
Reuter is very fair on the Rams draft class. Avila gives a much-needed boost to the interior of the offensive line while Young could become a very solid pass rusher off of the edge. While some were confused about the Stetson Bennett pick in the fourth-round, there’s a good chance that he may not have been available later on.
PFF broke down each each selection, but regarding Avila and Hodges-Tomlinson, they said,
“Avila was the model of consistency in pass protection during TCU’s Cinderella run in 2022. He averaged less than one pressure allowed per game last season and surrendered just one pressure to a vaunted Georgia defensive line in a blowout national championship loss...The Rams needed reinforcements in their secondary, and they’ve done well to get the most out of smaller defensive backs like Darious Williams over the years, and Tomlinson can hopefully be the next in line, falling because of his 5-foot-8 stature. The TCU product earned a 78.4 grade in 2022 with five interceptions and has three years of starting experience, projecting as a solid slot option for the Rams. He plays like he’s 6-foot-2 and if he can overcome the lack of size in a zone-heavy Rams scheme this could be a steal.”
Rams Get D+ Grade from Establish the Run
The media’s draft grades for the Rams weren’t all sunshine and rainbows, however. Establish The Run’s Evan Silva gave the Rams draft class a very negative D+. Here’s what Silva had to say,
“Past beneficiaries of a “F*ck Them Picks” approach, this year’s Rams went the opposite way. They stockpiled selections before the draft and made several trade downs during it, ultimately investing heavily into Day 3 of what was widely considered one of the weakest drafts in recent history. While L.A.’s roster badly needs replenishment, I’m skeptical a draft of this caliber presented the right timing. The Rams’ starting lineup is still thin enough that Avila, Young, and even Turner could all end up as first-team players in Year 1. 192 pounds and turning 26 soon with off-field concerns, I don’t think Bennett would be drafted in most years. The rest of this haul consisted of a bunch of fifth- through seventh-round dart throws. I think there’s a good chance this will be Sean McVay and Les Snead’s final season in L.A.”
Silva’s analysis is overtly negative to the point where you could hardly call it analysis. The Rams did what they needed to do on day two, picking up a stout offensive lineman on day two. While they invested heavily into day three, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Zach Evans, Nick Hampton, Warren McClendon, Davis Allen, Puka Nacua, and Jason Taylor II LL, at the very least, give the Rams depth. That’s something that they didn’t have last year.
An argument could be made that this might be Snead’s last year depending on how this draft class performs. McVay on the other hand didn’t return for one more disastrous season.
Rams fans will be happy to know that the San Francisco 49ers ranked 32nd with the worst draft class according to the consensus.
Does any of it mean anything?
At this point, we all know that draft grades are pointless and nothing more than entertainment pieces. The infamous example is the Seattle Seahawks 2012 class that included Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner receiving a D from Bleacher Report.
While the Rams draft class may not have been a A-, it also certainly wasn’t a D+. They addressed many of their needs and addressed the offensive line with arguably the best center/guard in the draft. Young, Hampton, and Tomlinson could all become instant contributors as well. According to Sharp Football Analytics, the Rams ended up with the 13th most valuable draft class.
best value 2023 NFL draft classes— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) April 29, 2023
see pic for 1-32 plus methodology
team-by-team & round-by-round analysis to follow pic.twitter.com/lEP7sNDvMF
The answer is likely much more in the middle and closer to a B. In the end, we won’t know until three or four years in the future when these rookies have established themselves in the NFL.