Should LA Rams draft for 2023 starters, or for highest ceiling prospects?

John Wolford, Justin Hollins
John Wolford, Justin Hollins / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

If you enter any LA Rams forum now and open a topic regarding the best strategy employed for the 2023 NFL Draft, you will likely be confronted with a varied spectrum of opinions. While each draft unlocks that passionate support for a specific college football player, I'm talking about the general philosophy of this draft. Should the Rams bundle picks to emerge with a few rookies who could start on Day 1 of the 2023 NFL season? Or should the Rams be content to draft for the lesser refined prospects who fall in the draft, but whose upside could be far greater than the refined and polished rookies in this draft class.

For that matter, will it even make a difference to the Rams?

I'm really not sure at this point. With the Rams roster still shy of 8 players just to get to the 53-man active roster, 2023 will ultimately welcome multiple potential starters to this roster. In one regard, LA Rams fans would certainly be far more satisfied if the rookie draft class of 2023 is able to assume the numerous vacated or up-for-grabs starting roles on this team. It's clear that the Rams need to find starters for all four special teams specialists in the draft or after: Kicker, long snapper, punter, and punt returner.

Plan to have a plan

The question is, what sort of give and take will the LA Rams front office need to weigh out in making those ever-important rookie selections? We have discussed the financial implications of drafting, and why the LA Rams have been content to add rookies who are talented but need a bit more coaching to unleash their full NFL production. In doing so, the Rams have been able to control their payroll costs even as multiple elite veterans set new compensation records for their position.

Drafting is never a certainty. Potential is the production that is never realized. If the LA Rams are willing to draft a rookie prospect, the team must have a concrete plan in place to unlock that into a productive NFL career, and then be very certain that the rookie understands and is willing to put in the work to get there.

Can the Rams handle so many rookies at once?

The Rams drafted WR Tutu Atwell in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but had no plan to unleash his speed and skill set in their offense in the past two years. DB Robert Rochelle had all the makings of an NFL defensive back, but he too has withered on the vine as the team did not have an effective plan to unlock what he could do to benefit the defense.

The Rams need an overarching plan that does not shift or turn when a positional coach changes. That has come back to bite the team time and again, particularly in retarding or even hard-halting the progres of younger players. With this roster at a bare minimum, and prepared to invest in what may be up to 45 rookies this season, the Rams must do more than vet rookie prospects.

The Rams' entire organization must commit to developing all rookies added to this roster in such a way that everyone has the opportunity to earn playing time and flourish. That can be very difficult when so many rookies arrive simultaneously. Without intending to do so, drafted rookies will get optimal looks at any training camp competition before extending the rotations to later-round rookies or undrafted newcomers. But if the team commits to objectively assessing players, and affords everyone a chance to earn a meaningful role with the team, the results should be both positive and close to the goals.

Trending. This should be the year for the LA Rams to emphasize the RB position. dark

It may or not matter how plug-and-play ready a rookie is before they arrive at the Rams organization. But once the rookies do arrive, they will need to show a willingness to work hard. If they do that, the Rams could wind up with some impressive players in 2023.