The thrill of every NFL Draft is long-lasting. From the moment that an NFL season ends, fans have the opportunity to make a wish list of new rookie talent to add to the team's roster in the annual Christmas event known as the NFL Draft. Some fans commit countless hours to the project of trying to determine who their teams will select to their team. That annual induction of new rookie players is a wellspring of optimism for teams that struggled mightily the previous year.
It is a part of the NFL season that carries fans over the long haul from the season's end to the start of OTA. Unfortunately, so is the time required to get rookie prospects up to speed to compete successfully in the NFL. And right now, that is what LA Rams fans have to look forward to this season.
There is a huge difference between veterans and rookies. Since the Rams have not had this many rookies vying for a roster spot on the Rams roster at the same time, perhaps it's time to go over how rookies attack that intimidating learning curve that each must overcome in the early stages of their NFL careers.
For starters, rookies do not arrive to the NFL in a plug-n-play state. They must orient themselves to the NFL, to their respective team, and to the team's strategy,. That is why it takes such a long time for young players to get up to speed. Each day, each practice session, must build on the previous day's experience. And new lessons are learned constantly throughout their first season.
NFL Draft helps teams to align rookies to schemes
The perception about the NFL Draft, and the success rate of rookies chosen during the draft, is a far different experience than perception. Because NFL GMs and coaches are competing against other NFL GMs and coaches, teams try to make the wisest choices in terms of building a long-term winning roster.
On the other hand, bias towards instant gratification tends to persuade teams to make decisions for the benefit of the team that amplifies chances of success today at the expense of tomorrow. And yes, the LA Rams willingness to trade future picks for present day veterans falls into that category.
But at the start of the 2023 offseason, the strategy pivoted from winning now to aiming for the NFL Playoffs next season. To get there, the Rams have embraced a huge number of young players this season, with the goal of learning and improving this season. That is all to be expected because the LA Rams will have an inexpensive, young, and talented roster for the 2024 NFL season.
Reset your expectations for Rams preseason
Rather that look for accomplished and polished performances early, the LA Rams are seeking solid improvement and development. That is what the preseason games are all about after all. The LA Rams will cycle through the least experienced and accomplished players in preseason games, hoping to improve their performance and ranking on the Rams depth chart.
Making mistakes now, in preseason games, are not nearly as fatal as mistakes during the regular season. Now, the entire team can take a step back and learn from those mental errors. Will the LA Rams win any preseason games? What does it matter? The season consists of 17 games, and we have already witnessed the fact that the Rams will not play a significant number of starters in preseason competition.
You can let the Rams' preseason performance make you toss and turn at night, or you can realize that it's not a single data point, but a positive trend, that is how to best judge the Rams preseason. This is a young, inexperienced, and inexpensive Rams roster this season.
The LA Rams are playing everyone, from the bottom of the depth chart all the way up to the backups who need experience. Many of the players who are seeing playing time for the Rams right now will not be on the 53-man roster when the season starts. In fact 30+ players will not be on the roster when the Rams 2023 regular season gets underway. And of those players, approximately half will sign up to the LA Rams practice squad.
Preseason games are not meaningless. But they are not worth the worry and angst that many fans are already displaying. Buckle up, buttercup. The LA Rams have changed lanes, and are now building an NFL Championship team through the draft. You may not remember what that feels like, but if you need a refresher course, it feels just like this.
And this is the strategy that so many have wanted the Rams to adopt. So settle in and enjoy the ride. It gets better the longer it goes.