When will LA Rams draft special teams specialists?

Sean McVay
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LA Rams Draft Rams roster Sam Sloman
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Why shouldn't LA Rams draft special team specialists

The NFL is a competitive game. And to win in the competition, players have to start winning the competitive process from the moment that they step foot into the LA Rams training facility. But from the get-go, if a player is drafted specifically to land a starting role on special teams, that competition is over.

How can that be?

No NFL team's personnel department wants to be viewed as the ones who are responsible from spending one of a limited number of draft picks on a position, and discovering that player cannot stand up to competition, losing to an undrafted option. No matter how thick the file, no matter how endles the video footage of a punter, kicker, return specialist, or even a long snapper, they are competing in college for a different coaching staff, filling a different role, none of which may be similar enough to the LA Rams situation.

Rams must rely on competition this season

The only true method of assessing rookie prospects (or any player for that matter) is to sign up multiple players and hold endless competitive sessions that will give enough feedback to determine which player best fits the Rams needs.

We know from the LA Rams kicker competition between drafted rookie K Sam Sloman and FA signings USFL K Austin MacGinnis and CFL K Lirim Hajrullahu that the superior effort of MacGinnis and Hajrullahu did not overtake the bias of leaning heavily into drafted rookie Sam Sloman. After releasing both MacGinnis and Hajrullahu, Sloman struggled heavily. Eventually the Rams signed Matt Gay, who proved to be good enough to be the starter through 2021 and 2022.

To find the right player for the LA Rams roster, there has to be a legitimate and objective competition. Unfortunately, from the moment a player is drafted, objective competition flies out the window. Starting from scratch, and committing to the results of 2023 roster decisions for the next two seasons, the Rams need to get as many roster decisions right as possible.

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To draft or not to draft, that is the question. If the certainty of NFL success surrounds a kicker or punter, and they are truly an elite talent, the Rams are certainly justified in securing that rookie for the roster via the draft. But if there are questions or uncertainty about a prospect, perhaps the team is better advised to look at other posiitions and simply sign multiple players to duke it out in training camp competition.