How long has it been since the Rams drafted each position early?

When was the last time the Rams invested an early pick into each position and who did they draft? Examining this reveals some interesting trends regarding how Los Angeles values each position. 

Rams Early Draft Picks

Quarterback

The last time the Rams drafted a quarterback early was their blockbuster move up for Cal quarterback Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL Draft. Goff passed for 18,171 yards and 107 touchdowns and helped the Rams reach Super Bowl LIII, but was traded to the Detroit Lions in 2021 in exchange for QB Matthew Stafford.

Running Back

Los Angeles has drafted a running back in each of its last six drafts, but the last time they selected one early was almost exactly four years ago, selecting Cam Akers out of Florida State. Akers ran for 625 yards his rookie season, but he tore his Achilles before the 2021 season and only saw action in one game. He slowly fell out of the rotation and was traded to the Vikings one game into the 2023 season for a conditional 2026 sixth-round pick. All told, Akers rushed for 1,443 yards and 10 touchdowns in a Rams uniform

Wide Receiver

The Rams have enjoyed some tremendous wide receiver play each year under Sean McVay, but have only drafted a wide receiver in the first two rounds once under him. The Rams drafted Tutu Atwell out of Louisville in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Atwell has been unable to hold down a starting spot and has battled injuries throughout his career. Atwell has caught 57 passes for 781 yards and four touchdowns so far with the Rams. 

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Tight End

A tight end was the first played drafted in the Sean McVay era, way back in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Rams selected Gerald Everett out of South Alabama in the second round that year. Everett spent four seasons with the Rams, catching 127 passes for 1389 yards and eight touchdowns. Everett currently plays for the Chicago Bears. 

Offensive Tackle

Believe it or not, the Rams have not drafted an offensive tackle in the first two rounds under Sean McVay. They spent their first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Joe Noteboom out of TCU, but that was well into the third round of that season. The last time the team invested a top pick in an offensive tackle was back when they were still in St. Louis, when they drafted Rob Havenstein out of Wisconsin. Havenstein is still on the team and is the longest-tenured player on the Rams roster, having locked down the right tackle job over the last nine seasons with the team.

Offensive Guard

This one is pretty recent, with the Rams selecting another TCU lineman in Steve Avila with their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Avila finished with a stellar rookie season holding down the left guard spot for the Rams this past season, but is moving to center in 2024. 

Offensive Center

It’s been almost 30 years since the Rams selected a center in the first two rounds of the draft. You have to go all the way back to the 1995 draft, when the Rams selected Jesse James out of Mississippi State in the second round that year. James played just two games with the Rams. 

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Edge Rusher

The last time the Rams drafted a pass rusher with a top pick in the NFL Draft, they selected one of their best players of the last decade. With their first round pick in the infamous 2011 NFL Draft, the team selected North Carolina DE Robert Quinn. Quinn notched 62.5 sacks in his seven year career with the Rams, including his 2013 All-Pro season where he tallied up 19.5 sacks that season.

Defensive Tackle

The Rams drafted arguably the best player in the history of the franchise when they last selected a defensive tackle early. The team selected Aaron Donald out of Pitt in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and the rest is history. Donald wracked up 111 sacks and was the best defensive player in the NFL for nearly a decade, collecting three Defensive Player of the Year awards. 

Linebacker

After making a historic trade in the 2012 NFL Draft with Washington, the Rams had multiple first-round picks over the next three drafts. It was through one of these picks that they made their last early selection at linebacker, drafting Alec Ogletree out of Georgia in the 2013 NFL Draft. Ogletree spent five seasons with the Rams, posting 503 tackles, 43 pass deflections, and six interceptions before being traded to the New York Giants. 

Cornerback

It has been a decade since the Rams drafted a cornerback in the first two rounds, going all the way back to the 2014 NFL Draft, where they drafted Lamarcus Joyner out of Florida State. Joyner primarily played in the slot before moving over to safety in 2017. For a true outside corner, you’d have to go even further back to the 2012 NFL Draft, when they selected Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins out of North Alabama. Jenkins notched 48 passes deflected and 10 interceptions in four years with the Rams. 

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Safety

The first pick the Rams made after losing Super Bowl LIII was a safety, selecting Taylor Rapp out of Washington in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Rapp spent four years with the Rams, wracking up 330 tackles and nine interceptions. Rapp currently plays for the Buffalo Bills. 

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