Rams Draft Class Deep Dive 2018-2021: A Pick-By-Pick Look At Who Has Hit And Who Are Busts

Many think that the Rams current troubles are their lack of high draft picks. A deep dive into the Rams draft success rate: Pick-by-Pick.

Nikko Buenavidez
Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Tutu Atwell Photo Credit: Gabby Hutter | LA Rams
Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Tutu Atwell Photo Credit: Gabby Hutter | LA Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have had an unconventional team-building strategy under Sean McVay, which eventually ended up winning them a championship. They sacrificed early-round draft picks to trade for veteran stars that elevate the team around them. This leaves the front office to try and hit on late-round draft picks in the hopes that they can provide depth around the stars.

Some are speculating that the troubles the Rams are having are a result of their wonton attitude toward high draft picks

Have the Rams’ problems resulted from them not hitting on draft picks? Let’s review each draft class starting in 2018 and categorize whether each player is a quality draft pick, a bust, or the jury is still out on that pick.

Rams Quality Draft Picks

2018

Brian Allen 4th Round- 111 Overall

At first, it didn’t look like Allen was going to work out, but he turned things around after 2019. Allen was one of the Rams best linemen last season and has done a solid job this year when not injured.

Sebastian Joseph-Day 2018 6th Round-195 Overall

Joseph-Day didn’t have a great first couple of years but came into his own in 2021 before his injury. His great performance in the first half of the Rams’ Super Bowl season earned him a payday with the Chargers. SJD developed into a solid starter at nose tackle and a good run stuffer.

2019

Darrell Henderson 3rd Round- 70 Overall

Henderson was drafted as the eventual replacement for Todd Gurley and was thrust into action sooner rather than later. He’s a solid running back, not game-breaking like others around the league, but he’s pretty underrated when used properly.

Greg Gaines 4th Round- 134 Overall

Similar to SJD, Gaines developed a bit slowly but has become a good starter for the team at nose tackle. Gaines is a force up the middle and opened things up for Donald and Leonard Floyd last year.

Nick Scott 7th- 243 Overall

Scott was another rotational player that ended up playing a bigger role due to departures. He stepped up along with Jordan Fuller after John Johnson left and has done a pretty great job for a former 7th-rounder.

David Edwards 5th Round/169, David Long 3 Round/79

2020

Van Jefferson 2nd Round- 57 Overall

Jefferson had a solid rookie year and got even better last season. He looked like a good deep threat, as well as having the potential to be the Rams WR2 if needed. Even though he’s been limited this season so far I’m expecting he’ll step in and pick up where he left off.

Jordan Fuller 6th Round- 199 Overall

2021

Ernest Jones 3rd Round- 103 Overall

Jones was by far the best selection in the 2021 class and for good reason. He’s a great tackler and the best homegrown linebacker the Rams have had in a while. He had a solid rookie year and now has had the chance to play next to a future Hall of Famer; Bobby Wagner.

Ben Skowronek 7th Round- 249 Overall

Skowronek was a seventh-round rookie who was thrust into the spotlight at the end of the Rams’ season. Benny Skow had to be the Rams’ second option in the Super Bowl after Odell Beckham Jr. went down with an injury. He’s definitely outperformed his draft position and is being used more creatively on offense this year.

Rams Busts

2018

Micah Kiser 5th Round- 147 Overall

Kiser was part of a terrible Rams linebacker group and was the weak link in an otherwise dominant Brandon Staley-led defense. 2020 was the first year and last year that he started on defense and is currently a backup on the Raiders.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo 5th Round- 160 Overall

Okoronkwo was a pretty mediocre rotational pass rusher that could never really get it done next to Aaron Donald. The Rams have tried many different solutions to who can rush outside of Donald and Okoronkwo was one that didn’t work out.

John Franklin-Myers 4th Round/ 135, John Kelly 6th Round/176, Jamil Demby 6th Round/192, Trevon Young 6th Round/ 205, Justin Lawler 7th/244

2019

Bobby Evans 3rd Round- 97 Overall

Evans can definitely be considered a bust after Sunday’s game. It’s pretty telling that Evans lacked skill when he barely earned a starting spot on an already depleted offensive line.

Dakota Allen 7th Round/251

2020

Cam Akers 2nd Round- 52 Overall

Akers started his rookie year off strong, but after injury never has never returned to that same level. He’s underperformed his draft position for sure, with AJ Dillion being taken just a few picks after him. When you’re drafted between Trevon Diggs and Jalen Hurts, I’d expect Akers to make a similar impact, which he has not.

Clay Johnston 7th Round- 234 Overall

Johnston was the star of Hard Knocks, only to be cut a few weeks later. It’s safe to say that if he couldn’t compete for a spot at linebacker on the 2020 defense, he wasn’t that great, to begin with.

Sam Sloman 7th Round- 248 Overall

Drafted as a replacement for Greg Zuerlein, Sloman was pretty awful as a rookie. He missed 6 kicks and was released mid-season. The best part of Sloman’s tenure with the Rams was the fact that it led to them acquiring Matt Gay.

Brycen Hopkins 4th Round- 136

2021

Tutu Atwell 2nd Round- 57 Overall

Here’s a player I’m sure many were waiting for on this list as Atwell has sparked controversy among Rams fans everywhere. From the fact that he was drafted into a wide receiver room that was already pretty deep to being picked only a couple of spots before Creed Humphrey and Nick Bolton, there are many reasons why he can be considered a bust.

Jacob Harris 4th Round- 141 Overall

Harris was drafted as a developmental prospect. The Rams loved his raw athletic traits but he didn’t develop. Even with a thin tight end room, he was moved receiver. This highlights his inability to help in blocking, which is essential in the McVay offense.

Jake Funk 7th Round- 233 Overall

Funk was another offensive prospect that just didn’t work out. The main reason that he ended up being drafted so low was his injury history which likely contributed to his lackluster play.

Chris Garrett 7th Round/252, Earnest Brown IV 5th Round/174

The Jury Is Still Out

2018

Joseph Noteboom 3rd Rounds- 89th Overall

Noteboom was deemed as the successor to Andrew Whitworth and seemed like he could be while filling in for him in 2020 and 2021. However, at the start of this season, he has massively underperformed expectations. Before his injury, he was playing pretty terribly with some of the lowest statistics of his career.

Travin Howard 7th Round- 231 Overall

2019

Taylor Rapp 2nd Round- 61 Overall

Rapp had a stellar rookie season but hasn’t been at that same level since. He’s been a pretty average starter over the past couple of years and it’s tough to say that he’s worked out or is a bust.

2020

Terrell Burgess 3rd Round- 104 Overall

Burgess is certainly an interesting case, as his rookie season looked good, but he hasn’t gotten any playing time since. He was injured and it’s unsure whether that affected his play and snaps. After his release, it’s unsure what went down, but I feel like he could have been a good player if given the chance.

Terrell Lewis 3rd Round/84 Treymane Anchrum 7th Round- 250 Overall

2021

Bobby Brown III 4th Round- 117 Overall

Brown is another recent rookie that hasn’t really gotten much of a chance to show his talent. Between his suspension and lack of opportunity he still deserves a chance to prove himself.

Robert Rochell 4th Round/130

Totals

Working Out- 11 (29.7%)

Bust-18 (48.6%)

Unsure-8 (21.6%)

Overall I would say the Rams have been good at finding value in later rounds. A 50/50 hit rate isn’t terrible and the hits have been big contributors. For a team that has had to draft without a first-round pick, they’ve done just fine finding depth pieces. The likelihood of finding a star player is reduced when you draft late, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re selecting a poor player.

The Rams are hoping to score with those later picks and turn them into superstars like Kupp, who was the 69th overall pick in 2017. When it doesn’t happen and the team lacks depth, a problem occurs. Day 3 players are the depth for other teams; for the Rams, they are now starters.

Because there is less room for error when it comes to drafting, the front office is under more pressure than other teams. It could be time for the Rams to reload if they want to be competitive in the future.

Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Tutu Atwell Photo Credit: Gabby Hutter | LA Rams
Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Tutu Atwell Photo Credit: Gabby Hutter | LA Rams