The Los Angeles Rams had a bad showing in the 2017 NFL Draft, so we’re re-writing history with five alternative picks they should’ve made.
There’s no denying the fact that the Los Angeles Rams started the 2017 NFL Draft at a disadvantage. Granted, this was by no one’s fault but their own front office’s. However, with not having a first-round pick, the Rams had to wait until the second round to make their first selection in this class.
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However, the Rams failed to do the best they could have once they were finally on the clock. This is a team that is severely flawed and has a ton of rebuilding left to do. They should’ve been looking for players with the potential to help immediately, specifically on offense where they need to start giving Jared Goff the tools around him to adequately develop. For the most part, they failed to do that.
Subsequently, most people have pegged the Rams as one of the teams with the worst drafts in 2017. So why not look back and rewrite history a bit. Let’s see how we can make the Rams’ 2017 NFL Draft better by re-picking five of their selections — only doing it better than they did in reality.
Jan 2, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) makes a catch against Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Christian Campbell (1) during the second quarter of the 2017 Rose Bowl game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
After not having a first-round pick, the Rams elected to take Gerald Everett in the second round. The tight end has great measurables and solid game tape. He seems to translate to being a quality pass-catcher in the Los Angeles offense. That’s something they need, surely. However, the issue with Everett is that he’s largely unproven against high caliber competition and he’s not a complete tight end.
For a team like the Rams, that’s not a player that you should be using a premium draft pick on — especially when that pick is the team’s first of the draft. That makes absolutely no sense at all. Thus, they take a pro-ready weapon for their offense in this redo of their draft in Juju Smith-Schuster. While the USC product may not have the upside of the guys that were taken in the top 10 of this draft (or the upside many thought he did at one point), he’s still a viable weapon.
Smith-Schuster offers the sure-handed, big bodied target that could be a high quality possession and red zone threat for Goff. You know what the Rams offense is lacking? That exact type of player. He’d fit right in to fill a void for their offense and be well worth the 44th overall pick if they were to take him at No. 44.
Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers offensive lineman Dan Feeney speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Round 3, Pick 69: Dan Feeney, OG – Indiana
Actual Pick: Cooper Kupp, WR – Eastern Washington
One of of the most critical needs of the Rams this offseason was to improve their offensive line. They did so in the short term by adding Andrew Whitworth, which will help keep Jared Goff clean and further his development. However, as they’re still lacking at guard and in terms of high-upside linemen for the future, they should’ve targeted more offensive linemen earlier in the draft, but didn’t.
Thus, the selection of Dan Feeney here makes a ton of sense for them. He’s a guy that has the size, skill and measurables to plug into an NFL offensive line right away. While he might not be a superstar — not that many guards earn that title regardless — Feeney would’ve been an instant upgrade at the position right now. More importantly, he would’ve increased the longevity of the line in terms of being able to protect Goff moving forward.
Admittedly, Cooper Kupp is a great pick for the Rams. He’s one of the few weapons that they drafted to add to a skill position group that was severely lacking that can play right away. However, the Rams should’ve looked at prioritizing their draft differently. So if they were to take Smith-Schuster in the second round, taking a guard like Feeney would’ve been the more prudent move for them.
Oct 31, 2015; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes tight end George Kittle (46) reaches out to catch a pass while chased by by Maryland Terrapins defensive back Anthony Nixon (20) and linebacker Brett Zanotto (38) during the first quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Round 4, Pick 117: George Kittle, TE – Iowa
Actual Pick: Josh Reynolds, WR – Texas A&M
Ostensibly, there’s nothing wrong with Josh Reynolds being a fourth-round pick. He has nice size and nice measurables that could make him a solid player in the NFL. At the same time though, is he really a player that’s going to move the needle for the Rams offense right away. That’s one of the big problems at numerous parts of the Rams’ actual draft. For a team in need of developing a quarterback, they didn’t do a great job of helping him out right now.
More so than Reynolds, a player like George Kittle would’ve been able to really provide Goff with a ton of help on offense. Not only is he a polished and proven blocker from his time at Iowa, but he’s also an underrated pass-catcher. Kittle was one of the most underrated prospects in this draft, partially due to the depth at the position and partially because of how limited he was by Iowa’s lackluster offense.
With that said, Kittle could’ve really been a huge asset in Los Angeles. Not only could he help Gurley in the rushing game by adding another effective blocker in addition to a mildly improved line. What’s more, he’d be a safety valve in the passing game for Goff. That would be huge for his development moving forward as they continue to acquire weapons for him and the rest of the offense.
Mar 3, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Bucknell offensive lineman Julie’n Davenport squares off in the mirror drill against San Diego State offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill during the 2017 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Round 4, Pick 125: Julie’n Davenport, OT – Bucknell
Actual Pick: Samson Ebukam, OLB – Eastern Washington
Much like with the Kupp pick (ironically also from Eastern Washington), I don’t necessarily hate the Samson Ebukam pick. He’s a project as an edge rusher, but has the physical tools in terms of explosiveness and speed to be a threat there with polishing. As the Rams transition to Wade Phillips’ 4-3 scheme, he’ll be a nice player to bring in and learn the new scheme and contribute situationally.
With that said, the Rams offensive line needs further addressing if they want their offense to be even serviceable, thus the re-pick of Julie’n Davenport. In a way, the offensive tackle out of Bucknell mimics some of the same sentiments that there are about Ebukam. He’s a physical freak with the tools in that regard to be a force at his position. However, he’s not really ready to take the field just yet, but that actually works out well for the Rams.
This offseason, LA brought in veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. Whitworth was one of the best tackles in the league a year ago and should be key in keeping Goff upright in 2017, but he’s also not a long-term option. Thus, bringing in a developmental player like Davenport to learn from a veteran such as Whitworth would have made a ton of sense for the Rams as they look to shore up their future on the line.
Sep 17, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Georgia State Panthers wide receiver Robert Davis (19) catches a pass for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Round 6, Pick 206: Robert Davis, WR – Georgia State
Actual Pick: Sam Rogers, FB – Virginia Tech
There’s no question that the Rams made a number of questionable picks throughout the draft, but Sam Rogers may have been the most baffling of them. As a fullback, Rogers is going to be a nice piece in the NFL for some team. And the logic of taking him to help lead the way for Todd Gurley and add another blocker for Jared Goff isn’t lost on me. However, for a team that has such dire needs as the Rams do, it was a pick that would’ve been better spent elsewhere.
And one player that certainly fits that mold would be Robert Davis. The Georgia State product at wide receiver is far from being a finished product. However, he’s also a project that could pay huge dividends, which is the type of pick you look for in the sixth round. And when you consider how talent deficient and/or unproductive the Rams receiving corps has been, Davis would’ve made a ton of sense.
In terms of size and athleticism, few receiver prospects can touch Davis. He’s 6-3, 219 pounds, which is obviously impressive immediately. When you throw in a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, a 41-inch vertical and a 136-inch broad jump, you’re looking at a physical freak. As stated, he needs polishing as a receiver in terms of route-running and nuances of the position, but his potential is limitless. Adding a weapon like that to grow with Goff would’ve been enormous.