Los Angeles Rams: History shows team finds NFL Draft success in middle rounds

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

For the Los Angeles Rams, the 2018 NFL Draft will be all about capitalizing on mid-to-late round picks. Here is how they have done in previous seasons.

The Los Angeles Rams are thin on draft capital atop the 2018 NFL Draft. They have eight selections overall, but none in the first two rounds, having traded them for Sammy Watkins and Brandon Cooks the last two years. Here’s a look at the Rams picks for this year’s draft:

Round 3, Pick 23 (87 overall)

Round 4, Pick 11 (107 overall)

Round 4, Pick 35 (135 overall)

Round 4, Pick 36 (136 overall)

Round 6, Pick 2 (176 overall)

Round 6, Pick 9 (183 overall)

Round 6, Pick 20 (194 overall)

Round 6, Pick 21 (195 overall)

For this to be a successful draft for the Rams, they will need to find value in the mid-to-late rounds where they have picks. They need to be able to find talent in rounds three through six. Luckily, they have some experience doing so. Here is how Les Snead and his team have been able to do that the last few drafts.

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Third Rounders:

  • WR Cooper Kupp (2017): Starter, important offensive weapon going forward.
  • S John Johnson (2017): Starter, important member of the defensive backfield going forward.
  • OG Jamon Brown (2015): Starter, solid member of the offensive line.
  • QB Sean Mannion (2015): Legitimate backup QB. Solid third round value, but probably not going to give a Nick Foles level replacement performance if Jared Goff goes down.

Analysis: As you can see, Snead and his team of scouts have done some of their best work in the third round the last few years. Also, he likes to move around in this area. Could he move back to pick up another fourth? Or package a fourth and a sixth for another third? Lots of options on days two and three of the draft.

Fourth Rounders:

  • WR Josh Reynolds (2017): Depth receiver who many think has great contribution ahead of him. Good value for the fourth round.
  • OLB Samson Ebukam (2017): Started two games last year. May see a larger role this year with the dearth of line backer on the Rams squad.
  • TE Tyler Higbee (2016): Starting tight end for the Rams, but has not shown he is the contributor he needs to be for Sean McVay’s offense. May get passed up by 2017 second rounder Gerald Everett.
  • WR Pharoh Cooper (2016): Pro Bowl kick returner. Emerging slot and move receiver. A nice find in the fourth round.
  • G/T Andrew Donnal (2015): Was waived in November, now a backup for the Baltimore Ravens.

Analysis: Once again, this front office has shown they can find value in the fourth round, and their batting average is pretty good. The Rams currently have three fourth rounders. Expect them to add linebackers, edge rush, offensive line, or even a backup running back. Luckily, there are a lot of places they can go in the fourth round, depending who falls to them.

Fifth Round: (The Rams have not used a fifth round pick since 2013, and they currently do not have one. Why does this team hate the fifth round?).

Sixth Round:

  • DT Tanzel Smart (2017): Started four games as a rookie. Is a depth rotational defensive tackle and a good sixth round value.
  • FB Sam Rogers (2017): The best fullback in the class who got a lot of fans excited to see what McVay would do with the rolling ball of butcher knives. Unfortunately, Rogers was on the practice squad all year. Might the offense use him this year?
  • TE Temarick Hemingway (2016): A depth tight end who looked to contribute in 2017, but a fractured fibula in the preseason put him on IR. Does he have a shot to compete for playtime against Higbee, Everett, and a potential draft pick?
  • WR Bud Sasser (2015): Out of the league due to a heart condition.
  • OG Cody Wichmann (2015): Cut in final roster cut downs last year, currently on the Titans practice squad.

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Analysis: As we would expect, the sixth round (and later) is more hit and miss. But the Rams have hit on players like CB E.J. Gaines in 2014 who started in his rookie year. Maybe the Rams can turn one of those sixths rounders into a starter? Either way, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the draft for Los Angeles, even if they don’t have a selection in the first two rounds.