The LA Rams drafted rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua with the 177th pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. So far, that has worked out incredibly well for the LA Rams. And yet, when it comes to trading for hole-plugging veterans, the Rams seem to either underestimate the value of their draft picks, overvalue the value of the veteran player, or a bit of both. Let me explain:
When the LA Rams lost running back Cam Akers in 2021 due to a rupture Achilles Tendon, the Rams front office acted quickly to find and acquire a veteran running back. The LA Rams did so by trading a pair of draft picks, not just one pick, for the veteran reserve Patriots RB Sony Michel.
While the price seemed a bit steep at the time, the Rams' use of Sony Michel made the cost in that trade precious indeed. On the whole, the Rams traded two picks for a running back who would play just 538 offensive snaps for the team all season. On the whole, the Rams would allow Sony Michel to carry the football 208 times for 845 rushing yards and four touchdowns. But Michel would get the lion's share of that work in the final six games of the season.
In the first 11 games of 2021, Michel would only get 79 carries for 315 yards and 0 touchdowns. In the final six games, Michel would explode for 129 carries, 530 yards, and four touchdowns. Still, even with that late burst of production, the Rams clearly overpaid for a player who they would later allow to walk away in free agency uncontested.
Compare that to the recent trade of Cam Akers to the Minnesota VIkings, a trade that necessitates Akers putting up 500+ yards from scrimmage before the conditions are met. If he does so, the Rams will send a 2026 Rams seventh-round draft pick to the Vikings for a 2026 Vikings sixth-round draft pick. Otherwise, no picks are exchanged.
Rams overpaid for Dotson too
When the LA Rams learned that IOL Logan Bruss was not yet ready for prime time in the NFL, the Rams panicked a bit and traded for a veteran offensive lineman from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course, the Rams sent a couple of picks to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the rights to acquire Kevin Dotson. But how much were the Rams willing to give up?
Well, from what we've seen in three games, the LA Rams could be giving up an early fourth and fifth round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a late fifth and sixt round draft picks. In the end, the Rams will have given the Steelers the equivalent of a fourth round pick for an offensive lineman.
So how many snaps has Kevin Dotson played so far? None. Not one snap on offense, and not one snap on special teams.
The Rams have had two games that have been impacted by injuries to offensive guard Joe Noteboom. And the Rams lost offensive tackle Alaric Jackson in Week 3 to a bruised thigh. But so far, no sign of Dotson yet.
In the end, the Rams have traded draft picks for peace of mind, and not the production that the veteran player brings to the Rams roster for the price paid for that player. It may be that Kevin Dotson will work out for the Rams at some point this season. But after three games, and the equivalent cost of a fourth-round pick, you would think that would have shown up already.