The Los Angeles Rams’ 2016 draft was overwhelmingly biased towards the offense. Rightly so, after the team finished it’s final season in St Louis with it’s offense ranked dead last in the league. After taking Jared Goff with the first overall pick, the Rams gave him a host of supporting talent with Tyler Higbee (TE), Pharoh Cooper (WR), Temarrick Hemingway (TE) and Mike Thomas (WR). Josh Forrest was also brought in to add some valuable depth at linebacker.
A couple of things scream out about this draft class. Firstly, after taking Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown, Cody Wichmann and Andrew Donnal in 2015, the Rams did not add a single offensive lineman among this year’s selections – one of just nine NFL teams not to do so.
Throughout the 2015 season the Rams surrendered a league-low 18 sacks. While this renders the Rams poor offensive ranking even more inexcusable, it does at least suggest that the quarterback is one of the safest in the league.
Having taken a new franchise quarterback in Jared Goff, and paid a hefty price in picks going to Tennessee in order to do so, protection of the quarterback is essential for the Rams moving forward. The lack of linemen drafted suggests the Los Angeles are quite comfortable with what they have up front.
Secondly, the Rams are clearly trying to give Goff as much of a supporting cast as possible by bringing in two wide receivers and two tight ends. Having cut Jared Cook earlier in the offseason, tight end was definitely a position of need, and the additions of Higbee and Hemingway could go a long way to plugging that gap.
Despite the criticisms about dropped passes and ball security, in his three seasons with the team Cook was still the Rams leading receiver in 2013, and second behind Kenny Britt in 2014 and 2015. Now, I am by no means suggesting the team was wrong to cut Cook, but clearly there were some yards there that will need to be found elsewhere.
Further outside, the additions of Cooper and Thomas also have the potential to give Jared Goff more options. Wide receiver has been a huge problem for the Rams for many years now. Tavon Austin has improved steadily since coming into the league and Kenny Britt is a solid performer.
However, Brian Quick has arguably punched below his weight, and Stedman Bailey has huge potential but returning from his horrific shooting to provide a 1000-yard season seems highly unlikely. The Rams will hope they have found a diamond in the lower rounds to provide Goff with some much-needed ammunition.
Ultimately, there was no point giving up as much as the Los Angeles Rams did to grab a franchise signal caller with the top draft selection if they were not going to add elsewhere on the offensive side of the ball to help him out. They did exactly that.
We will all find out in a few months’ time whether or not the gamble paid off. One thing that cannot be denied, is that the strategy was clear and the draft class entirely consistent with that. The Rams are well established as one of the league’s top defences. They have an elite running back in Todd Gurley, and a young offensive line that is evolving from one the biggest areas of need on the roster to a unit that can consistently protect the quarterback.
In the last year’s draft, the tactic was to get Todd Gurley as the leading running back, and help him with ton of middle and lower round offensive line picks. This year the strategy was comparable, with the early pick of the top tier quarterback in Jared Goff followed by a cluster of later round receiving selections to support him. In the wake of this year’s draft, the Rams now have a new franchise quarterback and a host of young talent looking to fight for roster spots at tight end and wide receiver. Could they finally have found the recipe for success?