Another NFL Draft is in the books and the Rams’ draft was another win for General Manager Les Snead. The team came in with a few positional groups it needed to rebuild and they did so by adding high-value talent at a low cost. If Snead has yet another draft where he gets multiple blue-chip players out of it, the Rams will continue to be set up for the long term. NFL Twitter may have dunked on the Rams a bit for trading down but in the end, they got five players in the top 100 picks, all of whom can make an impact this year.
Taylor Rapp – S, Washington
After trading out of the first round and then trading down in the second, the Rams drafted Rapp who many had as a late first rounder. Teams were likely scared off by a hip injury that occurred prior to the Rose Bowl. Rapp told reporters that the injury was no longer a concern and he is ready to go. He provides both much-needed depth behind John Johnson III and Eric Weddle and the potential to be a starter once Weddle retires or his contract expires.
Rapp’s been praised for his motor, his football IQ, and his skills in man coverage. He has the reputation of being a great tackler but has a Bob Sanders/Roy Williams tendency to lay the hammer down too much and take unnecessary punishment. If he can develop by the time Weddle is gone the Rams will have one of the scariest safety duos in the league. He was an absolute steal at the end of the second round.
Darrell Henderson – RB, Memphis
This pick surprised both fans and analysts. Sure, there was speculation that the Rams’ draft board would have room for a running back given Todd Gurley‘s knee situation, which Turf Show Times has dubbed the “patella novella”, but this soon and this particular running back was definitely a surprise.
Henderson scored 31 touchdowns in his three seasons at Memphis. He was yet another player that somehow fell to the Rams. Henderson ran a 4.49 40 at the combine and is explosive enough to level Avengers Headquarters. There are questions about his ability to adapt when the holes aren’t there and he isn’t great at shedding tacklers but in the open field, he’s Barry Allen.
Gurley’s knees are going to be a question mark until the end of time. Malcolm Brown was retained to be the immediate solution to an injured Gurley but Henderson won’t be buried on the depth chart like the soon to be departed John Kelly. Even if Gurley is “healthy”, Sean McVay indicated that Henderson could be that change of pace back he so desperately wanted.
David Long – CB, Michigan
The Rams’ draft board netted yet ANOTHER steal in the third round. Long played in Los Angeles while attending Loyola High School and his time at Michigan allowed him the ability to play in cold weather. More importantly, though, he ran a 4.45 40 and was so productive at Michigan that he was rarely thrown to because of his ability to recognize routes and doesn’t get caught out of position by receivers. Long also possesses tremendous footwork and football IQ. He will serve as Aqib Talib‘s replacement but could easily step in for what is a thin corner group, especially if the team trades the disgruntled Troy Hill.
Bobby Evans – OT, Oklahoma
The Rams last third-round selection netted them a quality tackle to develop behind the soon to be retired Andrew Whitworth. Evans started at both sides and has received high marks for his upper body/core strength as well as his technical skills. The knocks against him are his lack of speed and agility as well as his lack of blocking moves. Luckily Aaron Kromer is adept at whipping lineman into shape so this is all fixable. Last year the Rams fixed the interior of their line and the rebuild of their line continues on the outside.
Greg Gaines – DL, Washington
Gaines is the most likely candidate to start on day one. He was drafted to play inside so that Michael Brockers can remain at defensive end. He’s replacing Ndamukong Suh and while he can’t match Suh’s skill set he’s not a complete drop-off. Gaines is another guy with a killer motor and is explosive out of his stance. He’s athletic enough to shed blockers, split double teams, and can create a ton of pressure. The cons to him though are his lack of pass rush moves and his below-average agility balance. He’s a high effort guy so hopefully, he can correct some of those issues.
David Edwards – OT, Wisconsin
This was the first Rams’ draft pick that received skepticism. Edwards is yet another pick used to provide depth and take over for Andrew Whitworth once his watch has ended. The problem is, last season Edwards was easier to get past than Euron Greyjoy’s security team. On the plus side, he’s got solid quickness and is skilled at run blocking. He’s got quick feet and handwork. He’s definitely a Chip and Joanna style fixer-upper but he’s got time since Evans is likely to get the majority of the backup reps.
Nick Scott – S, Penn State
The Rams get some solid depth at safety as well as a guy who can contribute immediately on special teams. He’s got tremendous explosion and ran a 4.43 at the combine. He’s aggressive and is big enough to match up with tight ends. He doesn’t have much experience at safety having only played one year but he can develop along with Rapp.
Dakota Allen – LB, Texas Tech
The former star of Netflix’s ‘Last Chance U’ provides much-needed depth at linebacker after the departure of Mark Barron. He’s too aggressive and is cited for being easily baited on plays and can miss tackles. On the plus side, he’s well conditioned and possesses tremendous burst. Perhaps he can find a role on special teams while he learns how to play linebacker.
The Rams’ draft wasn’t the sexiest group on the block but considering how much late round value they got, they added to their already solid foundation of young guys. Les Snead has managed to add depth all over the roster and once the more expensive guys come off the books they should be prepped to have someone to take their place. The Rams have become one of the smartest teams in the league and if they continue to hit on mid-late round picks they can extend their championship window for years to come.