Rams ‘stick to the plan’ in draft and address variety of needs
Stay in alignment. No surprises. Seamless.
Those were a few terms and phrases Rams general manager Les Snead and coach Sean McVay used Saturday to describe the Rams’ process and results in the NFL draft.
A day after they selected tight end Gerald Everett, receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson in the second and third rounds, the Rams added Texas A&M receiver Josh Reynolds and Eastern Washington linebacker Samson Ebukam in the fourth round, Tulane defensive lineman Tanzel Smart and Virginia Tech running back Sam Rogers in the sixth, and Pittsburgh linebacker Ejuan Price in the seventh.
The four new players on offense and four on defense help the Rams address needs at receiver and tight end, and improved depth at linebacker and on the defensive line.
“We feel like we were able to address a lot of those needs, but we also didn’t overreach for any,” McVay said after his first draft as a head coach. “It seemed like a lot of those guys that we had valued, we were able to get at the spot that we wanted.
“And that was kind of the goal for the weekend and we felt like we accomplished that.”
But for the second year in a row, the Rams did not select an offensive lineman.
That might perplex Rams fans who last season watched running back Todd Gurley struggle to reach the line of scrimmage and quarterback Jared Goff unsuccessfully dodge pass-rushing onslaughts.
The addition of free-agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth — a Pro Bowl selection with Cincinnati the last two seasons — new offensive-line coach Aaron Kromer’s assessment of players on the roster, and the lack of offensive-line depth in the draft caused the Rams to prioritize other needs, Snead said.
The Rams also did not draft a cornerback. After assessing a secondary that includes recent signees Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman during last week’s minicamp, McVay said Saturday that “we feel good where we’re at.”
“The biggest thing you take away from this weekend is that there were no surprises,’ McVay said. “Everything that happened, we were able to kind of stick to the plan and trust that if it wasn’t maybe Priority A, there was a Priority 1-A in place.”
The Rams began the day by trading down five spots and selecting Reynolds. The 6-foot-3 wideout gives Goff a tall target and can make catches high in the air.
“I’m versatile,” Reynolds said in teleconference with reporters. “My height was just a bonus, and really having long arms, just being long.”
Ebukam was excited about joining a defense that will operate from coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. He also is enthused about playing on the same pro team with Kupp, a teammate at Eastern Washington.
“When he got picked by them I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the perfect team,’” Ebukam said. “Then I thought to myself, ‘What are the chances I get picked by the same team?’ And it just happened and I was like, ‘Whoa, Eagles really do stick together.’ That’s awesome.”
Smart joins a defensive-line position group that includes three-time Pro Bowl tackle Aaron Donald and two-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Robert Quinn.
“I really want to learn a lot from Aaron Donald,” Smart said. “I’m just glad I’m in that situation to play and learn from those guys.”
Rogers grew up about two hours from Washington, D.C., so he is familiar with the productive offense McVay oversaw as coordinator for the Redskins.
“They use versatile guys, guys that can do a lot of different things,” Rogers said, “and I feel like I fit that mold pretty well.’
Price played defensive end at Pittsburgh, where he was teammates with Donald.
Price overcame chest and back injuries that sidelined him for more than two seasons. He finished his career with 29½ sacks, tying him with Donald for fourth on the school’s all-time list.
“I think naturally I’m a 3-4 outside linebacker, so I couldn’t have asked for a better fit,” Price said, adding, “I think I’ll fit right in with what I do. My specialty is penetration and pass rush so I think I can definitely be useful.”
The Rams began to contact potential free agents immediately after the draft and will continue through Sunday. They will hold a rookie camp starting May 11.
Snead, overseeing his sixth draft, credited McVay for bringing enthusiasm to the evaluation process, especially in the last four weeks leading up the draft.
“That’s where chemistry is built,” Snead said. “That’s where you get to know someone. That’s where you get to really, really bond a lot better than badminton at the company picnic.”
UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams and USC running back Justin Davis were among 11 undrafted players who agreed to terms for free-agent contracts with the Rams.
Others: Arkansas defensive back Jared Collins, Colorado State linebacker Kevin Davis, Washington offensive lineman Jake Eldrenkamp, New Mexico State offensive lineman Anthony McMeans, Oregon tight end Johnny Mundt, Dartmouth linebacker Folarin Orimolade, Missouri defensive back Aarion Penton, Ohio defensive tackle Casey Sayles and North Carolina State defensive back Dravious Wright.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein