LA Rams 2017 NFL draft class is getting paid in free agency
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams draft class of 2017, the first draft for head coach Sean McVay, was a rather curious one. NFL Draft analysts mocked the Rams all over the place, and after the fact, the draft grades came in all over the place. That was another fine example that the LA Rams could indeed draft impact players despite no first-round draft pick. They’ve had to exercise that ability each year since.
The clear path of that draft class was ensuring that the Rams offense had weapons. By the end of round four, the Rams had three shiny new offensive weapons, including wide receiver Cooper Kupp, tight end Gerald Everett, and wide receiver Josh Reynolds.
From that draft class, the LA Rams will only be seeing wide receiver Cooper Kupp in an LA Rams uniform this season. But the Rams will likely be parting ways with Everett and Reynolds, and have already said their farewells to safety John Johnson and outside linebacker Samson Ebukam from that draft class. So far, defensive players have made the first and biggest splashes in the 2021 NFL Free Agency market. But if neither Gerald Everett nor Josh Reynolds finds their way to a new team, I’d expect that the Rams will find a way to re-sign them.
The Rams drafted very well in 2017. Just eight picks, but from the group the team found five impact players, five NFL starters who contributed early and often to the Rams winning records in each of the past four seasons.
Of course, the team did swing and miss as well. The Rams drafted Pittsburgh Panther outside linebacker Ejuan Price, who did not ascend higher than their practice squad. At 206, the Rams drafted fullback Sam Rogers, but he too could not crack the Rams roster and he remained on the practice squad for just one season.
The Rams also drafted defensive tackle Tanzel Smart at 189 but released him in 2020 to re-sign defensive end, Morgan Fox. Smart has since found a home on the New York Jets. He appeared in just three games for the Jets in 2020 but could leverage those 26 defensive snaps for three tackles into more playing time in 2021.
The LA Rams used eight picks in that 2017 NFL Draft to find five starters who outplayed the Rams budget. If they sign onto significant contracts this year, they will contribute to the LA Rams award of compensatory picks for the 2022 NFL Draft and reload the talent pipeline to do it all over again.