Rams Make Most Of Minimal Draft Capital With Impressive NFL Draft Class

Tennessee defensive end Byron Young (6) celebrates after Tennessee's football game against Florida in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.Kns Ut Florida Football Bp
Tennessee defensive end Byron Young (6) celebrates after Tennessee's football game against Florida in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.Kns Ut Florida Football Bp /

The Rams added several potential starters at the 2023 NFL Draft. Here is an in-depth look at the haul for Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Rams witnessed a disastrous turn of events in 2023 as the reigning Super Bowl champions tumbled all the way to the sixth-worst record in the entire league. After a lackluster opening, quarterback Matthew Stafford only appeared in nine games before missing the remainder of the campaign with a neck injury.

In Stafford’s absence, the wheels completely fell off for the Rams. The offense graded as the 25th-best unit in the league, even with the defense still posting a top-six grade in the NFL (via PFF). This disastrous run resulted in a 12-loss season, marking the most losses by a defending champion in Super Bowl history.

All in all, calling the 2023 season a failure would be a drastic understatement. Thankfully for Rams fans, head coach Sean McVay announced his return to the franchise for a seventh year at the helm. Future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald will be back in action, joined by superstar wide receiver Cooper Kupp and the aforementioned Stafford behind center.

Rams Make Most Of Minimal Draft Capital With Impressive NFL Draft Class

The bones of the Super Bowl-winning roster are still around, but the supporting cast was noticeably weaker heading into the offseason. It only got worse for Los Angeles when it traded away lockdown cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins. Allen Robinson followed him out the door as the Rams cleared cap space and acquired a pick from the Steelers for the underwhelming veteran.

Thanks to the Stafford trade from a few offseasons ago, the Rams did not benefit from the down year. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft was owed to Detroit, leaving general manager Les Snead without a selection on Day 1. Nonetheless, Los Angeles made the most of its opportunities on the second and third days of the event, leaving the draft with multiple potential starters in 2023.

Round 2, No. 36: Steve Avila, OL, TCU

Steve Avila isn’t the sexiest pick in the world, but he is one of the safest options in the 2023 NFL Draft. The TCU product boasts positional versatility and profiles as an elite pass blocker from the jump. Avila graded above average as a run blocker in college but needs to add more agility to his game to be a true difference-maker in space.
2023 Role: Starting Left Guard

Round 3, No. 77: Byron Young, EDGE, Tennessee

Byron Young began his career at the JuCo level before transferring to Tennessee and becoming a star for the Volunteer defense. He recorded 16 sacks, flashing his 4.4 speed and a rare explosion off the snap. Young is an older prospect, but he is ready to start for the Rams as a rookie and provide a presence from the edge they currently lack. Don’t be surprised if the Tennessee defender enters Defensive Rookie of the Year conversations.
2023 Role: Starting Outside Linebacker

Round 3, No. 89: Kobie Turner, DT, Wake Forest

As great as Aaron Donald is, he cannot do everything by himself. Kobie Turner, a former zero-star recruit out of high school, offers the Rams a partner-in-crime for Donald while also giving the front office a potential long-term replacement for the Hall of Famer.

Turner is not big enough to hold up full-time at nose tackle, but the Wake Forest veteran can play there sparingly. He performs best as the 3-tech, where he can use consistent leverage and a remarkable burst to gain the upper hand at the snap. Under Donald, Turner can learn the tricks of the trade in 2023.
2023 Role: Rotational Defensive Tackle

Round 4, No. 128: Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia

The Rams took the shot on back-to-back National Champion Stetson Bennett. The Georgia signal-caller is a polarizing prospect, with concerns regarding his size and off-the-field makeup. Los Angeles evidently does not share these concerns, as it selected Bennett at No. 128 overall and will likely make him the primary backup to Stafford in 2023. Kurt Warner approves… so maybe the Rams know something we don’t.
2023 Role: Backup Quarterback

Round 5, No. 161: Nick Hampton, EDGE, Hampton

Hampton is a traitsy prospect who lacks the frame to be impactful as a run defender. He is a situational pass rusher at the next level with an impressive array of moves at his disposal.
2023 Role: Special Teamer/Situational Outside Linebacker

Round 5, No. 174: Warren McClendon, OT, Georgia

McClendon profiles as a swing tackle but has the chops to start when called upon. He will compete on every snap and boasts a relentless motor, but his lack of polish will keep the Georgia alum from becoming a full-time starter as a rookie.
2023 Role: Swing Tackle

Round 5, No. 175: Davis Allen, TE, Clemson

Davis Allen is a solid athlete with receiving chops that will make him a go-to target for Stafford early on. Allen is lacking as a run blocker, but his ability to highpoint the ball will allow him to make contributions in the red zone at a minimum.
2023 Role: Backup Tight End/Third-String Tight End

Round 5, No. 177: Puka Nucua, WR, BYU

Nucua is a savvy route runner who thrives at finding the creases of the defense. The BYU pass catcher features reliable hands and could challenge for on-field reps in Year 1.
2023 Role: Depth Wide Receiver

Round 6, No. 182: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, DB, TCU

If Hodges-Tomlinson were taller, he would have been a lock for Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Alas, THT checked in at 5-foot-7 and a meager 178 pounds at the Combine. His competitive nature makes the TCU product look bigger on tape, and there is a chance he makes this draft position look laughable by becoming an All-Pro in the slot. At No. 182, all the risk disappears.
2023 Role: Potential Starting Nickel

Round 6, No. 189: Ochaun Mathis, DL, Nebraska

THT’s former teammate is a solid pass rusher but cannot tackle to save his life and is a liability in run defense. Mathis is a depth piece at best, with most of his contributions likely coming on the special teams unit early in his career.
2023 Role: Special Teamer

Round 7, No. 215: Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss

Evans is the best value in the entire draft haul, as he carried a strong Round 4 grade on my Big Board and should not have been available this late. Evans is another former TCU Horned Frog, making it three straight for the Rams. He wins with power and an otherworldly first step. Cam Akers better watch out.
2023 Role: Backup Running Back

Round 7, No. 223: Ethan Evans, P, Wingate

I will be entirely honest with you for a second… I did not watch any Wingate punting tape this draft cycle. Given the Rams’ current roster, Evans has a clear path to start as a rookie if he impresses at training camp. Hard to argue with that in the seventh round.
2023 Role: Starting Punter

Round 7, No. 234: Jason Taylor II, DB, Oklahoma State

A large chunk of snaps became available in the secondary this offseason, so seventh-rounder Jason Taylor II has an unprecedented opportunity to earn immediate reps as a rookie. Don’t sleep on the Oklahoma State defender; he could be a massive steal in the 2023 NFL Draft.
2023 Role: Rotational Safety

Round 7, No. 259: Desjuan Johnson, DL, Toledo

Last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, became a household name as a rookie. These expectations are impossible to meet for Desjuan Johnson, but he will show up to camp with an undeniable chip on his shoulder. The Toledo defensive lineman is a special teamer right now and faces an uphill battle to see the 53-man roster in Year 1.
2023 Role: Special Teamer