The Los Angeles Rams rookie class surprised many this season with its immediate success. Steve Avila was a solid addition to the offensive line while Byron Young and Kobie Turner each had an instant impact on the defense. That doesn’t even mention wide receiver Puka Nacua who broke the rookie receptions and receiving record in the same season.
Avila, Young, Turner, and Nacua each made the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie team. Four players from the same team on the all-rookie team doesn’t happen often. In fact, it’s the first time in Rams franchise history that they’ve had four players represented on the team. It’s worth noting the PFWA All-Rookie team has only existed since 1974.
Four selections for the Rams this year is most they've ever had on a PFWA All-Rookie team. Have had three on multiple occasions previously.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) January 23, 2024
PFWA has honored an All-Rookie team every season since 1974. https://t.co/aYRbZxYg7D
Still, it’s an impressive feat. General manager Les Snead desperately needed to smash the 2023 draft and that’s exactly what he did. The Rams have young building blocks, especially in Avila, Turner, and Nacua that they needed to take that next step in their team-build as the team heads towards 2024 and 2025. Those are the players that are going to help lead the next phase of Rams football. That doesn’t even mention Davis Allen who showed flashes or others who may make an impact as they continue to develop.
Following the 2023 NFL Draft, Eric Edholm of NFL.com ranked the Rams draft class 27th. When all was said and done, it’s hard not to argue his class as the best Rams draft class of all-time based off of their rookie seasons.
It had been over 60 years since the rookie receiving yards record had been set. Nacua not only did that, but also broke the rookie receptions record. He carried that into the postseason where he broke the rookie receiving yards record in a playoff game. Since 1995, only one rookie had more than six sacks as a rookie in a Rams uniform and that player was Aaron Donald. Turner tied Donald’s sack record with nine and Young was just behind him with eight.
This 2023 draft class has 2017 potential in which the Rams ended up with Gerald Everett, Cooper Kupp, John Johnson, Josh Reynolds, and Samson Ebukam with their first five picks. Even then, only Kupp made the all-rookie team. The 1974 Steelers draft is considered the best draft class of all-time and even that class only had three players on the all-rookie team.
In terms of Rams draft classes, in 1962, the Rams led off with Roman Gabriel and Merlin Olsen. Los Angeles had five picks in the first two rounds in 1975 and ended up with Dennis Harrah, Doug France, and Monte Jackson. That doesn’t include Rod Perry in the fourth round who is still tied for second in franchise history with most interceptions returned for touchdowns with four. That class was a staple for making the Super Bowl in 1979.
The Rams have had good draft classes in franchise history and some that may even be considered great. They led off 1983 with two arguable Hall of Fame caliber players in Eric Dickerson and Henry Ellard. Still, it’s hard to find a class that had as much of an impact right away as rookies as the 2023 class did. The fact that this all happened without a first-round pick makes it that much more impressive.
We’ll see what this class becomes, but they are certainly off to a good start. It’s exactly the type of class that springs forward a franchise. As the Rams officially move into their next championship window, this draft class may be what we look back to as what sparked that potential future run.