After three long days — mostly two, in Los Angeles’ case — the Rams have selected eleven players for their 2018 draft class. The group includes three offensive linemen, four linebackers, three defensive linemen, and one running back.
Here are five takeaways from the weekend.
1) Rams built offensive depth up front
Throughout the offseason, general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay have consistently said they’d like to build depth on the offensive line. L.A. is well aware that the club was fortunate to get through all of 2017 with its starters available for each game. Now players like Joe Noteboom, Brian Allen, and Jamil Demby will all get a chance to learn behind the Rams’ current starting five. Plus, they’ll provide insurance in case of injury.
2) There will likely be competition at linebacker
The Rams already had Mark Barron, Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager, and newcomer Ramik Wilson on the roster at inside linebacker. Now the club has two more players to compete for roles there with Micah Kiser and Travin Howard. Kiser in particular could be significant in the mix, as he recorded 408 total tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, and 19.0 sacks in his four years at Virginia. McVay also referred to Kiser as a great communicator, which could be an indication of his potential to become a defensive signal-caller.
3) Depth for the D-line and edge rusher, too
The Rams already had 2017 AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Then they added another dynamic interior defensive lineman in Ndamukong Suh. With Michael Brockers, that’s a high-quality defensive line to start in a 3-4. But with Robert Quinn traded to Miami and Connor Barwin an unrestricted free agent, there are some potential roles available at edge rusher and within the rotation on the interior.
Enter John Franklin, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Sebastian Joseph, Trevon Young, and Justin Lawler. It’s much too early to make any kind of roster predictions, but based on when they were drafted, Franklin and Okoronkwo appear to have a strong chance to contribute in the Rams defensive rotation early on. Franklin slots in as a five technique, and Okoronkwo as an edge rusher. But time will tell how much — and how well — they perform.
4) Only one offensive skill player
After leading the league in scoring in 2017, the Rams drafted only one offensive skill player — running back John Kelly. In his three years at Tennessee, Kelly rushed for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 43 passes for 350 yards — including 37 in 2017 alone. According to McVay, Kelly should be able to come in and compete for a role on the offense, perhaps becoming a change-of-pace back to the workhorse, Todd Gurley.
But when it comes to skill players and draft picks, it’s worth noting that the Rams did use their first-round pick to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
5) There were a lot of trades
Los Angeles has made a total of 11 trades since the 2018 league year began involving draft choices, and made six of those over the final two days of the NFL Draft. Through the draft-day trades, Los Angeles was able to go from eight to 11 selections.
But one of those draft-day trades sent wide receiver Tavon Austin to the Cowboys in exchange for pick No. 192. The Rams eventually used that selection on offensive lineman Jamil Demby. Still, as Snead and McVay both said, it’s tough to let an established player go — especially one who has been with the team for so long.
Nevertheless, the trade is likely best for both the player and team.