LA Rams past draft whiffs now present roster woes

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News NFL Draft
(Photo by Duane Prokop/Getty Images) /

2021 NFL Draft

The LA Rams seemed to be in good shape heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, and as such, the focus was on high-ceiling athletes who had plenty of high reward and special team potential at the expense of plug-n-play experience.

  • WR Tutu Atwell (57) ILB Ernest Jones (103) DL Bobby Brown (117) DB Robert Rochell (130) TE/WR Jacob Harris (141) DE Ernest Brown IV (174) RB Jake Funk (233, no longer with the team) WR Ben Skowronek (249) DE/OLB Chris Garrett (252, no longer with the team)

The Rams entered the 2021 NFL Draft with a list of distinguishable needs.  Those needs included the offensive line, linebacker, edge rusher, and depth. The Rams did draft a linebacker but waited for their last pick to address the edge rusher, and never did address the offensive line.

If there is a cause-and-effect relationship to a link between the struggles this season and past draft miscues, the 2021 NFL Draft class is the most logical cause.

Of the rookies chosen in the 2021 NFL Draft, only ILB Ernest Brown and WR Ben Skowronek have shown that they can contribute in a significant role for the team. The fact that the Rams loaded up on three wide receivers in 2021, while already boasting a significant number of talented receivers on the roster, was myopic at best.

Perhaps practical is the way to draft?

There is no shame in drafting talented offensive linemen, but the Rams appear to think so. In a season with three offensive linemen on expiring contracts, few would have questioned the Rams choosing to add competition and depth to their offensive line group that faced three expiring contracts. In retrospect, one of the Rams’ best rookie additions to the roster that year, OL Alaric Jackson, signed with the Rams after the 2021 NFL Draft.

Of that group, here are the snap counts for each player still on the team after 11 games in the 2022 NFL season:

WR Tutu Atwell (30)
ILB Ernest Jones (440)
DL Bobby Brown (15)
DB Robert Rochell (18)
TE/WR Jacob Harris (1)
DE Ernest Brown (0)
WR Ben Skowronek (506)

Call me too practical, but with a snap count breakdown like this, I cannot help but think that the Rams’ front office whiffed pretty badly in trying to hit the mark. While some are to be expected, just two years later, only two of nine prospects appear to fill a contributing role for this team.

If the LA Rams had drafted according to the team needs, the Rams would have up to two offensive linemen, and a solid edge rusher to add to ILB Ernest Jones as key contributors to the team this season, rather than the head-scratching enigma that seems to stump the team over how to get Tutu Atwell and Jacob Harris involved in an offense that is among the worst in the NFL right now.

The Rams added multiple skill players to a roster that needed help in the trenches. The result? Those garnish players remain unused, with the front office scrambling each week to sign more offensive linemen. There is a better way.