Found this draft data interesting as LA Rams head for 2023 NFL Draft

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams may not make any selections in the first round of the NFL Draft, but to hear NFL pundits talk about that decision, the Rams’ front office is just leaving money on the table. So when I noticed a bit of NFL Draft result analytics appear on my timeline from non-other than Kent Lee Platte (a.k.a. @Mathbomb on Twitter), I sat up and paid attention.

The NFL Draft is no more certain of hitting on a rookie prospect than hitting a winner on a scratch ticket. And you might think that, with an army of NFL scouts, data analysts, personnel executives, and sports medicine expertise, all interconnected in the modern NFL era, that swinging and missing on a draft pick would be, well, few and far between.

So when I reviewed the data presented by Platte regarding the Top-5 selections in the draft, I was fascinated to see what that presentation revealed. While the use of “Pro Bowlers” is a crude correspondence to hitting on a Top-5 pick, the data is of enough relevance to lead to some rough conclusions.

Just to be fair, the LA Rams have never had a “Top-5” pick in any draft since the team hired head coach Sean McVay. And even this year, with the LA Rams finishing with a record of 5-12, the Rams’ first-round pick will fall as the sixth overall pick. Of course, the Rams’ first-round pick belongs to the Detroit Lions this year.

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So, why should the Rams draft?

But let’s explore the use of the LA Rams’ first-round picks. The Rams traded two firsts as part of a package to acquire QB Matthew Stafford, and then promptly won a Super Bowl. The Rams traded first-round picks for defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and he has been named to three Pro Bowls with the Rams.

The Rams traded a first-round pick in a package for then-Patriots WR Brandin Cooks, and he helped get the team to Super Bowl LIII by putting up over 1200 yards. So too did the Rams trade several firsts to move up in the 2016 NFL Draft, landing QB Jared Goff, who was also a significant contributor to getting the team to Super Bowl LIII.

Per Platte’s presentation, the odds of hitting a Pro Bowl player in the Top-5 grouping of any NFL Draft is not nearly as great as some may think, nor as likely as the NFL marketing may lead you to believe. And the odds outside of that Top-5 group decline rapidly. That’s why the Rams’ strategy of trading firsts for proven players has been so successful.

But the front office knows that to sustain the Rams roster, and to balance out the salaries for the positional groups, the team must maintain a constant influx of talented and young players who come in on rookie contracts.

I found this interesting, and perhaps you may too.  Of course, I have not doubted the team in terms of how they restock the roster, because two Super Bowl appearances in six seasons are about as well as any team can hope for. But it’s always nice to have hard data to confirm that warm and fuzzy feeling sometimes.

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