A greater-than-expected number of LA Rams fans did not seem the least bit pleased with the Rams' willingness to trade back in the 2023 NFL Draft. And sometimes, a team really can outthink itself by doing so. Particularly when that team is a perennial NFL Playoff team. In those situations, the LA Rams do not need more players as much as specific upgrades to their established roster. Trading out of a spot where the team can get a starter, rotational player, or simply a competitor who makes the 53-man roster over trading back for multiple practice squad players is not a wise use of draft picks.
But there are times when that willingness to trade back makes complete sense One such scenario when that applies is when an NFL team enters the annual NFL Draft with 11 picks but with 46 vacant roster spots. Now, it's not so much about upgrading one specific position in the NFL Draft as much as it is filling a barren NFL roster with players who can compete at the NFL level.
That is where the LA Rams found themselves in the 2023 NFL Draft. Unlike some drafts in which there is a steep drop between those NFL-caliber players to a group of 'iffy-at-best" rookies, the 2023 NFL Draft seemed to be composed of a gradual decline at many of the positions that the team needed to address.
Late round drafted players are certain to be Rams
The fact that the LA Rams entered the 2023 NFL Draft after a 5-12 season was not the determining factor in my mind. Rather, it was that fact that the team entered the draft with less than 69 players under contract. What number of players under contract did the LA Rams have when the draft started? Just 44 players.
So what is so special about 69 players? That is the number of 53 players on the active roster, plus 16 players who will eventually make the practice squad. And the difference between the number of players who would become LA Rams through or after the draft was not the 11 picks that the LA Rams possessed, but 25 players. That number is far greater than the 11, or even the eventual 14, picks that the Rams owned.
But why is that even a big deal? Why not get the best in the draft, and then just load up the bus with undrafted rookie free agents (UDFAs), or as the Rams now refer to them CFAs (collegiate free agents)? Because players who do not hear their names called out in the draft can sign with any NFL team. That means bidding wars, prospect loyalty, family and friend pressure, and a host of other variables that can lure a coveted player to sign with another team.