Sure, Rams have draft's top pick, they'll look for help in later rounds too – Los Angeles Times
Quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, a fourth-round NFL draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1949, wound up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
So did defensive end Deacon Jones, a 14th-round pick in 1961, and linebacker Kevin Greene, a fifth-round pick in 1985.
They are among lower-round picks by the Rams who achieved the sport’s highest honor.
After using the No. 1 pick in the draft to select a quarterback Thursday night, the Rams will be looking for potential contributors in the later rounds — not necessarily Hall of Famers or future stars.
Trading up for the top pick put the Rams in the spotlight and in position to draft California’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. But it came with a steep price.
They gave up the No. 15 pick in this year’s draft as well as two second-round picks, a third-round pick, and first- and third-round picks next year. They also received the Tennessee Titans‘ fourth- and sixth-round picks this year.
The Rams are the only team with just one draft pick in the first three rounds. They could acquire more draft picks with trades before or during the draft, which runs through Saturday.
Their roster includes three quarterbacks — Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Sean Mannion — and General Manager Les Snead has said that trading one was “something we’d have to look at.”
The Rams’ dramatic move to the top of the draft was in stark contrast to what occurred in the last two years, when they stayed put and chose two future Pro Bowl players.
In 2014, they took Aaron Donald with the 13th pick and the defensive tackle went on to become the NFL‘s defensive rookie of the year and make the Pro Bowl twice.
Last year, the Rams surprised many when they chose running back Todd Gurley with the 10th pick. Gurley was coming off a major knee injury but the Rams were convinced that he would recover and produce. Gurley was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year last season and is now the face of the franchise.
After taking Gurley, the Rams focused on drafting offensive linemen “for one reason,” Snead said. “We felt like that group needed to grow together and play together over a long period of time, and it started in the 2015 season.”
Their picks included Wisconsin offensive tackle Rob Havenstein in the second round; Louisville offensive lineman Jamon Brown and Oregon State’s Mannion in the third round; Iowa offensive lineman Andrew Donnal in the fourth round; Missouri wide receiver Bud Sasser and Fresno State offensive lineman Cody Wichmann in the sixth round, and Baylor linebacker Bryce Hager and Memphis defensive end Martin Ifedi in the seventh round.
Wichmann emerged as a valuable asset, starting seven games. Donnal and Hager also remain on the roster.
“Just because you’re not drafted high doesn’t mean you’re not going to get your opportunity to do something great for the team,” Wichmann said Monday. “Just be ready, because it will happen.”
This will be the fifth draft with the Rams for Snead and Coach Jeff Fisher. They have selected 20 players in the fourth round or later. Eight are still on the roster and several could play significant roles this season.
In 2014, the Rams loaded up on defensive backs, selecting Maurice Alexander in the fourth round, E.J. Gaines in the sixth and Christian Bryant in the seventh. In the seventh round, they took offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney. Gaines started 13 games as a rookie but was sidelined last season because of a foot injury.
In 2012, they used a sixth-round pick to take kicker Greg Zuerlein, who recently re-signed.
With fewer picks this year, the Rams might supplement the roster with even more undrafted free agents than usual.
Last season, their roster included 16 undrafted free agents, including safety Rodney McLeod, running back Benny Cunningham, Pro Bowl punter Johnny Hekker, linebacker Daren Bates and cornerback Marcus Roberson.
McLeod and Bates parlayed their opportunities into free-agent contracts with other teams, McLeod signing with the Philadelphia Eagles and Bates with the Oakland Raiders.
The Rams’ dearth of draft picks won’t automatically make them a destination of choice for undrafted free agents in this year’s class, agent Jerome Stanley said.
“It depends on the positions they draft,” he said. “If they draft a center in the sixth round, you probably don’t want to be a [free agent] center.
“You’re seeking to become a team’s only rookie at that position. Or if not the only rookie, then the only rookie who’s not a high pick, because the high pick is going to make it, but they’re still going to need a developmental guy.”