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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IX - This keystone holds it all together

The LA Rams had not envisioned much utility in the inside linebacker position. The team often signed players after the NFL Draft to assume that position. But that all changed when the team drafted ILB Ernest Jones with the 103rd overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. It was the first year for new Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris, who inherited the NFL's top defense from former DC Brandon Staley. But Morris also inherited the fatal flaw of Staley's defense.

The Rams discovered the painful reality that their Staley defense was soft in the middle, like a jelly-filled donut. Prior to the addition of Jones, the Rams best inside linebacker was undrafted Pro Bowler Cory Littleton, who signed a huge contract to play elsewhere. But the Rams talent pipeline had run dry, and the team needed a strong field general at the interior linebacker position to rally the defense.

Even as a rookie, Jones made a difference. But his superpowers were unlocked in 2022 when he played next to All-Pro ILB Bobby Wagner. You could see Jones take command of the position, even as he played just 66 percent of the defensive snaps. In 2023, Jones proved to be the player the Rams hoped he might become. He put up 145 tackles, 4.5 quarterback sacks, and 14 tackles for a loss. He was even effective in pass coverage, allowing just 34 of 48 passes to find their target. He even broke up six pass plays in 2023.

Ernest Jones is a powerful hard-hitting linebacker who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 230 pounds. Thanks to his surprising effectiveness at the heart of the defense, he is a top priority to be extended. The Rams defense has taken on a stingier and more physical style of play since he arrived. And you can expect Jones to put up even better numbers in 2024.