Ranking Rams’ biggest NFL draft gems of the last decade

Some believe that the LA Rams draft class from the 2024 NFL Draft may be the most important rookie class of GM Les Snead's career. But these Rams have found plenty of draft gems over the last decade.

Los Angeles Rams Les Snead
Los Angeles Rams Les Snead / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
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I - All Pro Defensive Lineman

It's easy to come up with the top draft pick of the last 10 years for the Rams. That is Aaron Donald. Curiously, Donald was not the first player selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was not even the first player selected by the Rams in the 2014 NFL Draft. Donald was selected in Round 1 with the 13th overall pick. The 10 NFL seasons he played since that event have been a wonder.

Donald was a nine-time All-Pro, missing just once in his injury-shortened 2022 NFL season. He was a 10-time Pro Bowler. In ten NFL seasons, he put up 543 tackles, 111.0 quarterback sacks, 176 tackles for a loss, and 260 quarterback hits.

Prior to Donald's selection, NFL teams tended to shy away from defensive linemen who did not stand 6-foot-4 and weigh 300+ pounds. The though process was that defensive linemen needed to be bigger to withstand the physicality of playing in the trenches. Aaron Donald changed that prerequisite permanently, standing 6-foot-1 and playing at a stated weight of 280 pounds. But in interviews, Donald stated that his playing weight during the season dropped to as low as 260 pounds.

Donald was more than an elite NFL player. He was a force that elevated the play of his teammates. Named 'The Aaron Donald effect,' a number of players put up outstanding number when playing on the Rams defense, leveraged those stats to land a huge contract with a new team, but struggled to match that production without Aaron Donald present to warrant the attention of offensive linemen.

The Rams have certainly drafted some elite players in the past 10 years. Let's hope that their insightful strategy yields another crop of very productive rookies from the 2024 NFL Draft.

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