Best bang for LA Rams draft buck in 2023 is LOS and secondary
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams roster is not exactly a focused image right now. That means that the Rams' draft shopping list could arguably target virtually any position and be well-aimed. But with so many holes in a roster that has only half of the roster covered, where should the LA Rams focus their 2023 NFL Draft to get the most bang for their buck?
In my mind, the best positions to target for 2023 to address and invest coaching time into for a breakout 2024 NFL season are the line of scrimmage and the secondary. These are not simply knee jerk reactions. Rather, the LA Rams need a stronger foundation, and the truth is that their track record for rookies at offensive line, defensive line, or defensive backs are not promising in any plug-and-play scenario.
Rams draft could benefit from multi-year perspective
The challenge facing the LA Rams is the fact that coming off their 2022 5-12 season, the team exhausted almost all of their resources trying to patch up the Rams roster well enough just to get though the 2022 NFL season. While the team did that, there are many questions remaining from the players who competed for the Rams last year that have yet to be answered satisfactorily.
If the Rams plan truly hinges upon freeing up significant cap space for the 2024 NFL season, perhaps intending to sign some key NFL free agents next year, then the team will need to take a measured and deliberate approach to the players that they select this year as rookies. The Rams draft currently has plenty of potential, but how can the Rams get the most bang for their buck this year?
One way to optimize the impact of their 11 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft is to accept that the team cannot fix all of this team's problems, cannot fill all of the team's roster holes, in this draft. But the LA Rams can build a solid foundation from which to build a future NFL Championship contender by addressing the offensive line, the defensive line of scrimmage, and the secondary. So what does that type of draft look like?
Rams draft for fortune-filled future
The LA Rams draft has three picks on Day 2, and eight picks on Day 3. So how can the Rams parcel out those picks to ensure a stronger future? In other words, what is the best strategy to optimize the LA Rams' 2024 NFL season?
Ideally, the Rams should target an offensive lineman, an edge rusher/defensive lineman, and a defensive back on Day 2. Then the team should double down on each position on Day 3, leaving the other five picks to fill in the cracks at tight end, wide receiver, and other playmakers.
But what of the 2023 NFL season? Does that type of draft translate into success for this season? Perhaps, and perhaps not. But that's the impact of trying to free up so much salary cap space in 2024. If the Rams try to fix all of their holes this year, they may have more success, but the team will not be in as favorable position roster-wise for 2024. More to the point, success in 2023 hurts this team's 2024 draft position.
By committing to the trenches, the Rams can add depth and talent at key positions that are in dire need of an infusion of talent. But offensive linemen, defensive linemen, edge rushers, and defensive backs are not the sort of positions that move the needle dramatically in terms of wins/losses in any give season. So the Rams addressing those positions strengthen the team, but do not translate into a significant spike in success.
Next year, the LA Rams can more actively address their need for a backup quarterback, skill players, and other roster needs. The LA Rams want to get better quickly. But perhaps the best approach is to build the teams infrastructure this season, and focus on more obvious roster improvements next season.