2020 1st round pick (20th overall traded for defensive back Jalen Ramsey)
The LA Rams obtained defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and by doing so lost the chance to add 6-foot-3 254-pound defensive end, K’Lavon Chaisson, to the roster. This young man was chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars to bolster a pass rush that was decimated with veteran defections. But despite his arrival as a first-round rookie, he was more rotational than a starter for the team. That’s not unheard of, because he has translated his defensive end college role into a standup outside linebacker for the Jaguars.
That transition takes time, and while he appeared in 16 games for the Jaguars in 2020, and played 568 defensive snaps (51 percent), he started just three games and recorded 19 tackles and one quarterback sack. For comparison purposes, LA Rams Terrell Lewis played 124 snaps in just eight games and compiled five tackles and two quarterback sacks. Each rookie learns at a different pace, and Chaisson could be poised to have a much better 2021 season. But once again, the LA Rams drafted a similar skillset later in the draft and had comparable, if not superior, results with their later choice.
2021 1st round pick (25th overall traded for defensive back Jalen Ramsey)
Finally, in our what-if analysis, the Jacksonville Jaguars have chosen the 5-foot-10 215-pound running back out of Clemson, Travis Etienne, in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. While it is very uncommon for an NFL team to choose a running back in the first round of a draft in recent years, Etienne certainly carries the blue-chip stock analysis to warrant selection there. After choosing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick, the Jaguars added a very productive and familiar teammate to their backfield to ease his transition.
it’s a bold strategy and perhaps could pay off handsomely. But it may also backfire if Lawrence leans too heavily on his running back in the passing game as a safety outlet if a pass rush is bearing down on him. While Etienne could develop into a special running back, the valuation algorithms of the modern NFL are such that a top-tier NFL running back can be found on day two as well. Travis Etienne’s true value for the Jacksonville Jaguars is the connection to quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Five first-round picks, and not one ‘Oh no! The sky is falling on the Rams because they didn’t keep that first-round pick!’ among them. Might the LA Rams have done better? Careful with your answer, because as soon as you change one scenario, you change them all. The LA Rams with Corey Davis would have had no reason to draft Cooper Kupp. They may not have had reason to trade for Brandin Cooks as they would not have been close enough for it to matter.
Suffice it to say that the LA Rams have played their wheelin’ dealin’ riverboat gambler role to perfection. Rather than surrender to their fate, these LA Rams have gone against the grain to change theirs.