No first round picks since 2017, no worrries for the LA Rams

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams have not used a first-round pick since the 2016 NFL Draft.  In fact, the last player taken by the LA Rams in the first round was quarterback Jared Goff in 2016. In that year, he was not just a first-round selection, but rather he was the first overall pick.  After the arrival of head coach Sean McVay, Goff led the LA Rams to a Super Bowl LIII appearance after the 2018 season.

Not surprisingly, he was even voted to the NFC Pro Bowl twice, both in 2017 and in 2018.  Despite these accolades, the team and Coach McVay felt a change was needed after the 2020 NFL season. That prompted the team to trade him and multiple picks to the Detroit Lions, acquiring veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford in the deal.

To set the stage, HC Sean McVay was hired as the head coach of the LA Rams in 2017. Since that time, they have traded first-round picks for the likes of quarterback Jared Goff (2017 first-round pick), wide receiver Brandin Cooks (2018 first-round pick, who is now playing for the Houston Texans), defensive back Jalen Ramsey (2020 and 2021 first-round picks), and quarterback Matthew Stafford (2022 and 2023 first-round picks).

Rams draft success (so far)

Projections for the LA Rams’ future draft picks currently don’t have a first-round pick until 2024 but the lack of first-round picks has clearly not stopped them from winning a Super Bowl.  Though Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans, primarily after re-signing to a new contract but failing to perform at that higher compensation tier, both Ramsey and Stafford were instrumental in their Super Bowl run.

With the 2022 NFL Draft about a month away, will the LA Rams be able to further bolster the roster with some key additions?  When you look at LA Rams GM Les Snead’s drafts since 2017, the team has selected 53 total players, with 28 of those still on the team.  That’s an impressive 53 percent of those selections.

One of those 28 players is, of course, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Super Bowl LVI MVP.  He just happened to be selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and the only pick from that draft still with the team. But if you are going to hit on one player in any draft, landing the future SB MVP is quite the accomplishment.

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Future Draft picks

In the 2022 NFL Draft, the LA Rams currently have eight picks.  While that is numerically optimal, none of the picks fall in either the first or second rounds.  In fact, not one pick will fall among the Top-100 prospects taken in this draft.

Their first available pick won’t come until late in the third round, specifically at the 104th overall pick of the draft.  This draft is considered very deep at many of the positions that the Rams will want to address. In fact, the Draft class of 2022 is viewed by many as very deep and talented at four of the team’s five urgent positional needs. It is believed the value of this year’s draft is in the middle to later rounds.  That’s excellent news for LA Rams fans, right?

If the team’s use of data analytics and scouting can repeat history, they should be able to find some quality depth in those middle rounds. With eight picks, the team is free to choose from among the best players available, but with at least a view of the roster needs in their peripheral vision.

The LA Rams face 23 players with expiring contracts in 2023, according to  Hardest hit? The Rams’ defensive line as well as their running backs and secondary will be especially devastated by free agency.

This year’s draft is the perfect opportunity for the team to look ahead and fill some of those potential roles with younger and more importantly, players on rookie deals.  Hardest hit? The LA Rams are in the ideal position heading into the draft to allow them to take the best player available approach and gear up for a run at back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

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