On Friday, I wrote a quick eval of each NFC West team’s draft hauls from 2014-2016, with the promise that I’d get more information on each of those relevant picks. So begins that three-part series.
For the LA Rams, I sent over a list of names to Joe McAtee of Turf Show Times and he was kind enough to send back some quick thoughts on each of them. Hopefully this gives Seahawks fans a better idea of who to watch for — and maybe who not to — when the Rams undoubtedly frustrate the hell out of Seattle next season. These are just the players that StLA drafted from 2014 to 2016, and only the ones who seem relevant or notable to the Rams today.
The following is all Joe’s words:
Greg Robinson, T, 2nd overall, 2014 (Traded to Lions): The skill set was there. Mentally, he just never put it together. He was the most penalized player in the last two years combined, both because of the lack of focus but also because he constantly put himself in bad position that he just took penalties in to avoid letting guys get free shots at the QB.
Aaron Donald, DT, 13th overall, 2014: The most dominant player in the NFL.
Jared Goff, QB, 1st overall, 2016: He was absolutely horrible in 2016. The real concern isn't just how bad he was, since as most fans would be quick to defend him by pointing to Jeff Fisher who oversaw the residual decline of the Rams' offense overall. The real concern is that he was worse than any other QB for the Rams under Jeff Fisher. He was worse than Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Shaun Hill and Austin Davis. New Head Coach Sean McVay has a tall task ahead of him, but I do think it's preemptive to write his career bio at this point.
Todd Gurley, RB, 10th overall, 2015: Skilled, but has any talented running back proved the limitations of the position more? You can't run the ball if you can't block. The Rams haven't been able to block for him for more than two dozen games, and the lack of a passing game doesn't require any hesitancy from linebackers or safeties.
Rob Havenstein, T, 57th overall, 2015: Mistaken 2016 after strong 2015 rookie campaign. Overall offensive malaise in 2016 brought everyone down, Big Hav included. The Rams have kicked him inside to right guard to start camp. Might help him get back on track.
Lamarcus Joyner, CB, 41st overall, 2014: Maybe the most underrated component on the Rams defense. Might slide back to safety, though that might only be until rookie S John Johnson is ready to come on.
Mo Alexander, S, 110th overall, 2014: If Joyner was the most underrated component, Alexander was the most improved. Strong run support defender.
EJ Gaines, CB, 188th overall, 2014: Injuries are the concern now. Missed all of 2015 with a Lisfranc foot injury; hampered by various lower body injuries last year. Needs to start 2017 healthy and up physical coverage capabilities to match off-man coverage.
Jamon Brown, T, 72nd overall, 2015: Moving to RT in swap with Havenstein. Huge question mark for both in 2017.
Tyler Higbee, TE, 110th overall, 2016: Flashed well in training camp and the preseason last year. Wasn't used much in the passing game in 2016. Because of skill set and new Head Coach Sean McVay's tight end-reliant offensive system, should see much more action.
Sean Mannion, QB, 89th overall, 2015: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯? Third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Played seven snaps in rookie year. Played 16 snaps last year. Great personnel management by the Rams here...
Andrew Donnal, T, 119th overall, 2015: Could be the backup for 35-year old starting LT Andrew Whitworth. Played pretty significant role last year, and looked outmatched but system and timing had eroded all OL individuals.
Cody Wichmann, G, 215nd overall, 2015: Similar situation as Donnal.
Pharoh Cooper, WR, 117th overall, 2016 & Mike Thomas, WR, 206th overall, 2016: Marred by mistakes in 2016. Need to prove it wasn't Fisherball (though dropping wide open receptions or fumbling opening kickoffs are hardly system-dependent...). Group's more crowded with new rookie WRs in Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds and the return of 2016 UDFA Nelson Spruce who missed all of last year with injuries. Thomas' 4-game suspension for PEDs certainly doesn't help...