Rams pick their spots, then spot their picks in Day 2 of the draft
There was no splash factor this year, no attempt to become the story of the NFL draft.
The Rams, without a first-round pick, finally got their chance in the second round Friday — and then decided they could wait even longer, trading back in the round to acquire an extra pick.
They came away with three players —South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett, Eastern Washington receiver Cooper Kupp and Boston College safety John Johnson — who will help address needs, if not pizazz.
“We know we got better with three spots,” coach Sean McVay said. “These are high-character guys that will get us get better overall as a football team, and players that we had targeted. Kind of exactly what we wanted to come out of [Friday] with. So that’s a great start for us.”
The Rams enter Saturday’s final day of the draft with two picks in the fourth round, two in the sixth and one in the seventh.
General manager Les Snead and McVay passed on several players from larger schools — including USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster — for pieces to help an offense that ranked last in the NFL the last two seasons.
McVay was the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator the last three seasons. In that time, tight end Jordan Reed caught 203 passes, 17 for touchdowns.
So the premium on finding another tight end to help quarterback Jared Goff — the No. 1 overall pick last year — was not a surprise.
“Gerald was one of those guys, hey, let’s call it Scenario A, Scenario 1,” Snead said.
The Rams selected Everett with the 44th overall pick.
“I think I bring the complete package of a tight end,” said Everett, who caught 90 passes, 12 for touchdowns, in two seasons at South Alabama.
“Definitely the vertical threat, but also being a blocker in the run game and just being able to create that mismatch any time in the game.”
Everett joins a tight end corps that includes veteran Cory Harkey — who has played mainly as a fullback — and second-year pros Tyler Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway.
Kupp, chosen in the third round with the 69th pick, is the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision’s all-time receiving leader.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Kupp knows some will question his ability to compete in the NFL.
“I’ve played against some very good football players and I’ve played against some very good teams as well,” Kupp said. “I’ve been able to produce in both situations and I believe I prepare to be the best player when I step on the field. That’s not going to change moving up to the NFL.
“I pride myself on that preparation and what it takes it be great. If people want to question that, that’s fine. I’m just going to go out and do what I do and I believe that opinion will change soon.”
Kupp joins a receiving corps that includes Tavon Austin and Robert Woods, among others.
“I think I bring versatility, a guy that’s going to know the offense inside and out,” he said. “A guy that’s going to be ready to go Day 1. I pride myself on that. On learning the offense.
“I know exactly what I need to be, a guy that can be reliable and be able to get first downs. The ability to create in multiple different ways, play wherever you need me to play. I think that’s something that I bring that a lot of receivers can’t.”
McVay said that when evaluating Everett and Kupp, the level of competition was taken into consideration.
“In order to be an efficient receiver or threat in the pass game, you have to be able to create separation and catch the football,” McVay said. “Both of these guys have done it at a very high level, even though they might not have played at what’s deemed the top level of competition.”
Johnson, chosen in the third round with the 91st pick, played safety and cornerback in college. That could help him find a role with a Rams defense thin at both positions.
“I think I fit best as a safety, although I think I have a corner body type,” he said. “I came into Boston College as a corner, and I like covering man to man. I like covering the intermediate zone … but I think I would fit best as a safety.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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