How did Rams employ RAS scores in the 2023 NFL Draft? What is RAS?

2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3, Los Angeles Rams
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3, Los Angeles Rams / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The LA Rams seem to have employed a variety of draft strategies over the years. But the team needs another solid rookie class this year. So let's ask the million dollar question right up front. Is it better to draft with an emphasis on athleticism, on-field production, or passion for the game? There are upsides, and downsides to each tactic. But rather than focus on the downside, let's simply recap the highlights of each:

  • Athleticism - This strategy focuses less on on-field production and emphasizes the natural ability of the prospect to run, jump, lift, pivot, and appy any number of other physical skills. In theory, any athlete that has a greater upside at physical feats would hold an edge in a physical sport like football.
  • Production - This is the category of analog observation, the 'let's roll the tape,' strategy of assessing how well the player performs football related tasks in football settings. While not perfect, it does offer the reassurance that what you see is what you get from that player.
  • Passion - College football athletes can compete in the annual bowl games like the Hula Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl, Shrine Bowl, and Senior Bowl to pit similarly talented players against one another, but even those mano e mano showcase competitions lack a truly even field. In terms of athleticism or production, there is great difficulty distinguishing the player from the team, the level of competition, and even the circumstances that athlete faces. To attempt to circumvent those circumstances altogether, the LA Rams have begun to focus on a player's mindset, how much they love the game, and to what extent they are willing to go to achieve a successful NFL career.

How does that look on paper? If you agree with the assertion that the team seemed to emphasize passion in rookie prospects in 2023, you will likely join me in concluding that is the best approach to take in 2024 as well. It's the #DAWG in #DAWGWORK mindset, the belief that anything is possible through hard work.

Perhaps I should let LA Rams outside linebacker Byron Young say it better than I can:

Even as the team has changed focus, there is still a need to blend all three attributes. NFL Analyst, Kent Lee Platte, creator of Relative Athletic Score, recently assessed the Rams' past four draft classes in terms of selected player's RAS value. Relative Athletic Score is simply a method of comparing the statistics of various athletes based on their respective NFL Scouting Combine category, and then applying a relative index based on where that athlete's performance appeared to other athletes in that category. Do you notice the trend?

Oftentimes, focusing on the key attribute will pull higher quality from other areas as well. The Rams' 2023 NFL Draft results not only yielded passionate prospects, but their overall athleticism was impressive as well. Even their collegiate football production was solid.

The Rams have plenty of picks at the ready for the 2024 NFL Draft. Hopefully, applying the same strategy this year will offer similar results.