The Los Angeles Rams sent shockwaves throughout the league when they traded up from the 15th slot to first overall pick prior to the 2016 NFL draft. Three years later, how has that move affected the franchise’s subsequent drafts, as well as the team, today?
The 2016 season was to be the last season the Los Angeles Rams were to play in St. Louis. They certainly went out with a bang. The Rams gave up a total of six draft selections to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the first overall pick. Below are the full details of the trade.
- 1st round pick (2016)
- 4th round pick (2016)
- 6th round pick (2016)
- 1st round pick (2016)
- Two 2nd round picks (2016)
- 3rd round pick (2016)
- 1st round pick (2017)
- 3rd round pick (2017)
The headline of the above trade was, of course, Jared Goff, whom the Rams selected first overall. At the time it was believed that either Goff or Carson Wentz would be the choice for the then St. Louis Rams. Based on the results it is hard to argue with their selection. However, how did it affect the two drafts after that, and how has Goff compared to Wentz to date?
2017, 2018 draft affect
Selecting Jared Goff set the tone for the franchise in that draft and the two following it. With their following three picks in 2016, they opted to take offensive skill position players. The Rams have had ten picks in the first four rounds of the last three drafts. Seven of those picks have been spent on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams paid a lot to get Goff, but they have not failed in investing in him. Their early draft capital allocation shows just that.
The rest of the 2016 draft did not yield much for the Rams. Tyler Higbee has developed into a functional starter, while Pharoh Cooper is a good special teams player. The rest of the haul has not panned out into much. Other than Tyreek Hill in the 5th, who may have been off their board due to character concerns, there weren’t any offensive players they missed out on by drafting who they did. Ironically, the only two undrafted free agents who turned into pro bowlers from the 2016 class were signed by the Rams (LB Cory Littleton) and Titans (K Aldrick Rosas).
The highlight of the Rams’ 2017 class was wide receiver Cooper Kupp out of Eastern Washington. We saw how much of a difference Kupp can make when he went out with his unfortunate injury this past season. An article written by ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry illustrates just how much Kupp meant to Goff. Below are Goff’s splits from the last game Kupp played to week 16 of the 2018 season.
- Completion percentage: 70.5
- Yards per attempt: 9.9
- Touchdown/interception ratio: 16-5
- Completion percentage: 59
- Yards per attempt: 7.0
- Touchdown/interception ratio: 11-8
His absence definitely played a role in the Rams scoring just three points in their Super Bowl loss against New England.
To date, the Gerald Everett selection does not seem like a good one considering George Kittle went in the 5th round to division rival San Francisco. Safety John Johnson has been able to start all but one game for the Rams since week 5 of the 2017 season, but Eddie Jackson being selected 23 picks later and making a pro bowl puts a bit of a damper on the Johnson pick. Josh Reynolds showed some flashes when given a chance to start, but is buried on the depth chart as long as everyone is healthy.
While the Rams landed their own star in Kupp, their other top selections from 2017 leave a bit to be desired.
Seeing as the Rams released former starting center John Sullivan, it either speaks highly for fourth-round pick Brian Allen, or means they will address the position in the upcoming draft. Third-round offensive tackle Joe Noteboom did not make a start in 2018, but that may change soon considering Andrew Whitworth‘s age. It is too early to make any judgments on this class, but we may see what they are worth sooner rather than later.
The Rams have done all they can to surround Goff with weapons, but how has he stacked up to the other top QB prospect from 2016, Carson Wentz?
The fact that both Goff and Wentz had two separate franchises “give up the farm” to obtain them in the same draft will forever entwine their careers. Whether or not the Rams made the right choice, could be a debate for the next 15 years, and possibly forever. For now, let us take a look at how both players have performed up to this date using stats via Pro Football Reference.
Just by looking at the table above, it could be argued Goff has been the more productive player to this point. The struggles of his rookie year are well documented. However, much like we saw with Josh Rosen in 2018, Goff was in an impossible situation. Wentz, on the other hand, most likely finishes with a better stat line had his offensive line (most notably tackle Lane Johnson) stayed healthy his whole rookie year.
Goff’s play has been stellar the past two seasons. A majority of the credit can be given to Sean McVay and the moves the Rams have made in free agency, but Goff has shown he can execute the offense at a high level. Consider that in the past two years, no team has scored more points (1,005) than the Los Angeles Rams. Goff deserves credit for his role in that regard.
While Goff has been the more effective passer based on the stats the past two seasons, his athletic ability does not compare to that of Wentz. Wentz is a better athlete and has a more talented arm than Goff, but injuries have been the one detriment to his career thus far. He missed the playoff run in 2017 (torn ACL and LCL) and was eventually shut down towards the end of 2018 due to a back issue. Availability is an ability as some say, and thus far, Goff has been there for the Rams more than Wentz has for the Philadelphia Eagles.
It is hard to say the Rams regret their decision of Goff over Wentz. They have made the playoffs each of the past two seasons and have scored more points than any other team in that time frame. While it could be said Wentz is the better player when both are healthy, that has just not been the case. It could be argued the traits Wentz owns over Goff have led to the injuries that have not allowed him to finish either of the past two seasons. So while Wentz may be the better player, thus far, it has been Goff who has been both more effective and reliable. I would never have imagined saying that after his rookie year.
As far as the Rams draft hauls, they have left a bit on the table as far as talent acquired. Imagining this team with Tyreek Hill and George Kittle is frightening, but that was a genuine possibility given where each player went in their respective drafts. Still, the players they selected have not been total busts.
Gerald Everett has shown flashes while Tyler Higbee has proved to be a quality starter. Josh Reynolds filled in admirably when given a chance, and John Johnson has handled the Safety position opposite former Ram LeMarcus Joyner the past year and a half. They found a Pro Bowl quality linebacker in undrafted free agent Cory Littleton, and the jury is still out on the entire 2018 class.
Taking into account all that has happened since that trade in 2016, it is hard to argue the Rams made the wrong decision in going Goff over Wentz.