The Los Angeles Rams 2022 NFL Draft featured no picks in the top-100. Five of their eight picks came in rounds six and seven. Grading this draft immediately afterwards is not particularly easy as, definably by the late rounds, all these players are developmental projects. Moreover, the Rams just won a Super Bowl largely due to trading away their top-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. So does that net them an easy “A+” for “smart trading”.
Technically, yes. However, the 2022 season has started and the competition for the Lombardi trophy commences once again. The Rams now “were” Super Bowl champions of “last” season. While their draft and front-office deserves a strong “A+” for those picks, the Los Angeles Rams 2022 NFL Draft still needs a grade based on future projections.
- Third round, 104th overall: Logan Bruss, Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
- Fourth round, 142nd overall: Decobie Durant, Cornerback, South Carolina State
- Fifth round, 164th overall: Kyren Williams, Running back, Notre Dame
- Sixth round, 211th overall: Quentin Lake, Safety, UCLA
- Sixth round, 212th overall: Derion Kendrick, Cornerback, Georgia
- Seventh round, 235th overall: Daniel Hardy, Defensive End, Montana State
- Seventh round, 253th overall: Russ Yeast, Safety, Kansas State
- Seventh round, 261st overall: A.J. Arcuri, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State
Los Angeles Rams 2022 NFL Draft Grade: 7/10
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Los Angeles Rams 2022 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Logan Bruss
Grading the Rams draft is also complicated with no clear “best-player” or “lock picks” by default of not drafting in the top-100. Moreover, this was also a ‘weaker’ draft class without a litany of high-floor, low-ceiling players. Yet, finding Bruss at 104 seems to be a smart, safe, and productive pick. Bruss should find a way to start for the Rams this season, or next. He will make an impact right away as he has the technique and strength to combat defenders in the NFL. He is one of those, ‘high-floor, low ceiling’ players that often drop past the top-100.
Bruss may eventually be better than just ‘low-ceiling’ and a safe pick. He is strong in the run game and throws defenders with his hands. He locks down the interior of an offensive line and bullies defenders who make the first-mistake. Bruss can also pull and punish unsuspecting linebackers or cornerbacks. The Rams should enjoy watching Bruss combat against a top-defense in training camp, and that might push him to be even better than projected.
However, Bruss still has some challenges that reserve expectations. If he makes the first mistake, he loses. He struggles with more finesse pass-blocking and can misalign his weight against defenders. There are some concerns he may fall behind NFL defenders too often. However, combatting Aaron Donald in training camp may quickly teach him a thing or two about better distributing his weight, and he could end up looking like a steal at pick 104.
The Head-Scratcher: Russ Yeast
Criticising late-round draft picks is like questioning why a cook cannot cook a Michelin-Star meal on a single stove-top. It is possible that pans out to be a Michelin-Star meal; it is just very difficult. Russ Yeast might be a fine backup, but he barely fits in the Rams system and receivers will burn him as a slower corner. He looked a bit lost in college at times, and he will certainly be lost in the NFL.
Yeast has a good, natural reaction to the ball when he is in position; the question, however, is how often he can be in position. At Kansas State last-year, he led the team with four interceptions and 10 pass breakups. In the NFL, the question will be if he can translate his good traits to outsize his poor traits. Regardless, Yeast is a seventh-round pick and the Rams front-office must have seen some trait that belongs in the Rams training camp.
The Surprise: No linebackers
One of the other reasons the Russ Yeast selection was so ‘head-scratching’ is the Rams could have selected linebackers with plenty more upside in round seven. In losing Von Miller, Los Angeles signed aging veteran Bobby Wagner. While he may still have the upside for one more stellar season, the bigger upside in Wagner is what he could do to teach a young linebacker. Yet, the Rams punted on selecting any linebacker and took only one non-secondary defender. That draft strategy is confusing, and certainly one of the reasons their grade does not exceed a C, even with mostly late-round picks. The benefits of drafting a linebacker are much higher than drafting a cornerback, considering the potential of the position’s leadership.
The Steal: Daniel Hardy
Daniel Hardy comes from a ‘small school’ (Montana State), has only one-year of starting at that school, and is only 6’2” and 239 lbs. He needs to hit the weight room. Yet, he has the potential to improve in that strength and size category, working to achieve a 4.64’ 40-yard dash and leaping for a 40-inch vertical. He is violent on defence, and works in special teams nicely.
Hardy may simply play for the Rams for a few seasons, like many other late round players, and then move to a new career. However, if his biggest knock is “lack of strength” and “power”, those are fixable traits in the weight and strength room at the NFL level. Hardy should land on the practice squad, at minimum, and may find his way into a rotational position. There is a version of Hardy that enters his second-year with the Rams as a steal of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Kyren Williams
The description which best fits Kyren Williams is onomatopoeia – boom, pow, ouch, wham. Williams uses his entire body to confront defenders when carrying the ball and when protecting the quarterback on third-down. He is a workhorse running back with intelligence and downfield insight.
While he may not be an all-down running back in the NFL as he was at Notre Dame, Williams will bruise defenders down-in and out. His longevity with that violent style might be a question, and he does drop too often for comfort. In a role for the Rams, however, Williams has high upside to make immediate contribution and impact games this season.
Decobie Durant (Pick 142) featured big plays in-between defenders running him over in rush defence. He has high-upside to be a rotational cornerback and fight against small wide receivers. Durant finds the ball and nabbed 12 interceptions while at South Carolina State. He also has a year of missing footage and production due to his school sitting out the 2020 pandemic season.
Quentin Lake (Pick 211) follows his father Carnell Lake (All-1990’s NFL team) to the NFL. While Lake does not have the physical strength or speed of his father, he has the knowledge and poise to make the Rams roster and produce in a sneaky way.
Derion Kendrick (Pick 212) won two national championships, one at Clemson as a wide receiver, and second last season with Georgia. Yet, Clemson also disciplined and removed him the team shortly before a marijuana and unlawful gun possession charge (charges dismissed as he agreed to go through a rehabilitation programme). He moved to cornerback at Georgia and produced enough to fit in a rotational role in the secondary. He has solid football IQ and played quarterback in high school.
The Rams selected A.J. Arcuri (Pick 261) with their last pick in the draft. The finesse offensive tackle does not stand to be a fantastic power-protector, but his technique and sliding movement is good enough to stand a chance in making the 2022 Rams roster.