Will there be a future NFL Pro Bowler for the Rams draft on Day 2?
By Bret Stuter
We know that the LA Rams have a lot riding on their 2023 NFL Draft, so much so that the entire strategy of shedding elite veterans to reset the team's foundation and retry for the 2024 NFL season could depend heavily on the team's ability to draft this season. While the team has 11 draft picks, eight of those picks fall in the last 100 selections in this draft. The Rams are only making three picks in the first 80 selection. From the 78th to the 166th overall selection, the Rams will be sitting it out, contemplating their last eight selections.
It's only self-inflicted torture to set expectations too highly for success from an NFL Draft. And don't bother believing the instant grades after the draft. Nobody knows whether a rookie who appears to be a fit before they ever play for that team.
But what about the potential for the LA Rams to 'hit' on a future Pro Bowler at the 36th overall pick? Is that possible or even likely? The Rams have had early selections in the NFL Draft before, as many as eight times among the first 80 picks of the draft, since hiring LA Rams head coach Sean McVay. Of that select group, only WR Cooper Kupp has earned the honors of the NFL Pro Bowl.
While some may argue that the LA Rams do not find elite players in the NFL draft from selecting poorly, there are other factors at work. With a team vying for NFL Championships, the onramp to earn a roster spot to even begin competing in the NFL has been far narrower in the past. Likewise, the Rams willingness to cycle through younger players, primarily on their rookie contracts, is a bit of a challenge as well. It's quite likely that if the Rams had re-signed John Johnson, he would have been in the running for Pro Bowl honors.
Historically, Rams rookies have a four-year window to realize their full NFL potential before they are playing for another team. And it's very difficult for even the most productive rookies to outplay veterans. But this is a talented draft class, the Rams have three selections on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, and it's quite likely that all three players chosen on Day 2 could start for the Rams in the 2023 NFL season.
Does that mean that any will earn Pro Bowl honors while playing for the Rams roster in the next four years? Perhaps not. But it does mean that if they play hard and apply themselves, they will have as likely of a chance to do so in the past seven years.