The Los Angeles Rams seem to be catching on to the idea that the modern NFL is built around the passing game.
The Rams’ first draft class under new head coach Sean McVay focused extensively on finding targets for second-year quarterback Jared Goff, adding Texas A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds in the fourth round Saturday after spending two of their first three picks on South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett and FCS standout receiver Cooper Kupp from Eastern Washington.
“You want to find as many playmakers that can create with the ball in their hands,” McVay said.
It was a necessary use of resources after the Rams had the fewest passing touchdowns in the league last season, with Goff throwing for just five scores in his seven starts as a rookie.
McVay, on the other hand, oversaw the second-most productive passing offense in Washington at 297.4 yards per game.
That success could provide a hint as to where the newest Rams might fit in under McVay. Everett will be expected to fill the role Jordan Reed held in Washington, creating mismatches down the seam or from the slot, while the 6-foot-3 Reynolds could be Goff’s dependable red-zone option after catching 30 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Aggies. Kupp can operate outside or from the slot.
“All these guys have great ball skills and that’s what we are looking for, that consistency, that reliability that they can make plays,” McVay said. “Different players, but they will add depth to that room.”
There should be plenty of opportunities for early playing time. Tavon Austin and free-agent signing Robert Woods are the only wide receivers currently on the roster to have caught a touchdown in the NFL.
NO SAFETY HAVEN: The Rams lost starting safeties Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald in free agency over the last two years, and haven’t done much to address the position outside of drafting third-round pick John Johnson from Boston College. Johnson has the coverage skills to shift between safety and slot cornerback, which does create some added versatility with nickel back LaMarcus Joyner getting a look at replacing McDonald.
INTRIGUING ADDITION: Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips knows how to get the most from edge rushers, which makes the selection of Eastern Washington outside linebacker Samson Ebukam in the fourth round a name to remember. Ebukam, who had 9.5 sacks as a senior, is a superior athlete but still raw as a football player. With Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin locked in as starters, Ebukam should have time to refine his game and hopefully become a starter down the road.
STILL WAITING: The Rams did not add an offensive lineman through the draft for the second consecutive year, but McVay said it wasn’t necessary after seeing the returning group up close this past week during voluntary workouts.
“Coming out of that minicamp really enabled us to have a better feel for our depth up front,” McVay said.
SENIOR SELECTIONS: Of the Rams’ eight draft picks, only Ebukam and Ejuan Price of Pittsburgh did not participate in the 2017 Senior Bowl.
MORE THAN A FULLBACK: While Virginia Tech’s Sam Rogers projects as a core special-teams player and lead blocker for Todd Gurley, he developed a cult following among college football fans for his versatility and big-play ability. Rogers had a memorable 51-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a wheel route against No. 1 Ohio State on Labor Day to open the 2015 season, even juking future first-round cornerback Eli Apple en route to the end zone.