Latest ESPN NFL data ranks LA Rams as top pick in 2024 NFL Draft

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp
Los Angeles Rams Training Camp / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Oh, the fun of the NFL offseason is upon us, and with it comes two separate and very different categories of information for the fans that arrive by email, website updates, or direct streaming every day. There is the news from OTAs and training camp, reports, and images that give the latest updates that are intended to inform, but also to excite the fans a bit into anticipating the arrival of a new NFL season.

The other news is a bit more emotional and controversial. In this category, there are the rankings and grades. Because they attempt to quantify the future performance and relatives value of one NFL team compared to others, this is not hard data whatsoever. It's a SWAG, a scientific wild ass guess, with enough math and science behind it to appear sound.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is that method that of trying to make a prediction and then trying to determine what went wrong with that prediction which began the scientific method for the science of meteorology.

ESPN Rankings portray 2023 LA Rams as a bad NFL team

But NFL rankings have not gotten to that point of launching satellites, placing weather radar and weather stations around the globe, and working on the refinement with some of the most powerful computer resources available. After all, aerospace and maritime trade does not depend upon accurate NFL rankings.

The latest 2023 NFL Unit Grades published by ESPN Mike Clay are not very promising for the LA Rams, but there may be a silver lining to all of this if you just bear with me. In his position group ranking, the LA Rams' only position group to be given a favorable projection is that of the interior defensive line (graded 11th out of 32). After that, the Rams' grades are bottom rung type of rankings. Even a very healthy starting quarterback Matthew Stafford shows up no better than 15th place in that ranking, which is pretty far off the mark.

Here are his positional group rankings so that you can see for yourself.

If you want to delve deeper, that information is supplied as well. If you click on that link (as shown in the Tweet below), you wild download a large pdf file that shows the roster rankings of each player per team, plus a lot of other key information to look over at the bottom of the file.

That file is 66 pages long, and covers a lot of good and controversial information. If we have time (no promises), it's a great place to circle back to and highlight in terms of how poorly ESPN NFL Prognosticator Mike Clay projects the LA Rams to do this year.

Game-by-game predictions for 2023 LA Rams schedule. dark. Must read. 2023 game predictions

Will LA Rams land the top pick of the 2024 NFL Draft?

So where is this silver lining? If Clay's projections hold true, then it will be the LA Rams who will be making the very first selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, and that could likely be a selection for their next long-term franchise quarterback. You can find that on page 52 of the pdf file download (link here)

Of course, I would take all of this with a grain of salt. For starters, we know full well that the Arizona Cardinals have two first round picks that are in the running for the top pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, their own (projected to finish 30th in the NFL in 2023) and the Houston Texans (projected to finish 26th in the NFL In 2023).

The second qualifier is that the projections for the LA Rams units are dead last in so many groups. Could that happen? Sure, but it not likely to happen. Here's why. Unless the LA Rams allow opposing offenses to score at will, someone on the defense will step up and make tackles. That will elevate that player and that positional group compared to other teams.

Similarly, if QB Matthew Stafford is projected to throw 4,600 passing yards, then someone has to catch those passes. So the disparity between the QB ranking at 15, but WR and TE groups ranking far lower is illogical.

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We know that the 2023 NFL season will be painful. And as much as I hate to say it, I myself was conservative at predicting the LA Rams to finish the season at 5-12. But I cannot see that record as becoming the record of the worst team in 2023. If it happens, the Rams have a huge prize waiting for them in the 2024 NFL Draft. But, don't start portraying USC QB Caleb Williams in a Rams jersey just yet.