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Evaluating the athletic profiles of the Rams’ 2023 draft picks

The 2023 NFL draft has come to a close and the Los Angeles Rams ended this year’s festivities with 14 total selections made after entering the draft with 11 picks. The Rams had a variety of holes on the roster to address and they took a variety of prospects in hopes to find long-term fixtures at different positions.

When looking at the makeup of a team’s draft class, it’s always interesting to view the athletic profiles of the incoming rookies. By doing so, we may get a glimpse of what a respective team prioritizes looking for at certain positions, though, there could be exceptions.

Following a busy draft for the Rams, here are the 14 athletic profiles for this year’s draft class and tidbits on each prospect.

All of the RAS scores are courtesy of @MathBomb on Twitter

Round 2, Pick 36: Steve Avila (IOL, TCU)

The Rams elected to stay put at pick No. 36 and they took Avila to bolster the interior of their offensive line. Avila’s athletic profile doesn’t stand out in many areas, but he produced good scores across the board to net him an 8.50 RAS score.

The TCU product is certainly athletic for his size and he can play any of the interior positions on the offensive line. In all likeliness, Avila could earn a starting spot in the interior following the departure of David Edwards.

Round 3, Pick 77: Byron Young (Edge, Tennessee)

The pass rush of the Rams was lackluster in 2022 and they unquestionably were aggressive in adding edge rushers in this year’s draft. The first edge rusher they took was Young out of Tennessee, who is an athletic freak at the position.

Young ran a 4.43 40-yard dash (2nd among edge rushers) and he produced a 1.54 10-yard split, which was also the second-best mark among edge rushers. Even though Young is an older prospect, he figures to be an immediate impact player off of the edge for the Rams.

Round 3, Pick 89: Kobie Turner (IDL, Wake Forest)

With Greg Gaines joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, the Rams needed to add some juice to their interior defensive line group. While Turner is a smaller interior defender, his burst and agility are what made him an enticing selection by the Rams.

While Turner didn’t run the 40-yard dash, he did produce a 4.49 20-yard shuttle and a 7.08 three-cone drill (both would have been the best times among IDL at the NFL scouting combine). Turner has upside as a pass rusher in the interior and he’s a formidable run defender with his athletic traits.

Round 4, Pick 128: Stetson Bennett (QB, Georgia)

Even though the Rams needed to add a quarterback to the roster behind Matthew Stafford, many were surprised that Bennett was the choice in the fourth round. Bennett’s off-the-field concerns and his age made it a questionable pick to some, but he’s got the tools to be a solid backup.

Despite being a smaller quarterback, Bennett did produce impressive agility numbers across the board. Bennett’s playmaking helped Georgia win back-to-back National Championships (yes, the defense was the primary reason) and it should help him carve out a depth role in the NFL.

Round 5, Pick 161: Nick Hampton (Edge, Appalachian State)

The second edge rusher the Rams took in this year’s draft was Hampton out of Appalachian State. Hampton has solid size at the position and he produced a 4.58 40-yard dash, which was tied with fellow rookies Isaiah Foskey and Lukas Van Ness for the ninth-best time among edge defenders at the combine.

There’s a chance that Hampton could have had an even better RAS score had he done agility testing. With Hampton’s athletic skill set and the Rams lacking edge-rusher production, the Appalachian State prospect could be a late-round gem.

Round 5, Pick 174: Warren McClendon Jr. (OT, Georgia)

After taking Avila in the second round, the Rams added another offensive lineman by taking McClendon in the fifth round. McClendon didn’t do any agility or speed testing in the offseason and his RAS score likely would have been affected by his size.

That being said, McClendon does provide positional versatility as he could move to the interior at the next level. While he does anchor well in his blocks, he’ll need to improve in other areas to earn himself an immediate role on the Rams.

Round 5, Pick 175: Davis Allen (TE, Clemson)

The future of Tyler Higbee is uncertain and the Rams don’t have excellent depth at the tight end position, making it a position the team would likely address during the draft. Near the end of the fifth round, the Rams took Allen out of Clemson.

Allen is a big-bodied tight end at 6-foot-6, and he ran a slow 4.84 40-yard dash (2nd-worst among tight ends), but he did flash some athleticism with his vertical and broad jump. While Higbee’s status with the Rams is unknown, Allen could receive snaps sooner rather than later with his mixture of size and ability to high-point the ball.

Round 5, Pick 177: Puka Nacua (WR, BYU)

The Rams have drafted plenty of prototypes of wide receivers in recent years and Nacua is another wideout that isn’t going to have his athletic profile jump off of the page. Nacua was used in a variety of ways, including in plenty of jet-sweep plays due to his ability to create with the ball in his hands.

Nacua plays with the necessary physicality for his size and he excels in contested-catch situations. With Allen Robinson gone, Nacua could be used in specific packages at some point during the 2023 campaign.

Round 6, Pick 182: Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (CB, TCU)

With a glaring need at cornerback, the Rams weren’t able to add an outside cornerback, but they did get Hodges-Tomlinson in the sixth round. Hodges-Tomlinson is undoubtedly a smaller cornerback, however, he should excel in the slot with his athletic traits and ball skills.

The TCU product is a twitchy athlete that ran a 4.41 40-yard dash (tied for 8th among cornerbacks) and he notched a 39-inch vertical, which helped him make plays on bigger pass catchers. The Rams could have got themselves a fantastic late-round find in Hodges-Tomlinson.

Round 6, Pick 189: Ochaun Mathis (Edge, Nebraska)

The third and final edge rusher the Rams selected during the 2023 NFL draft was Mathis out of Nebraska. After transferring from TCU to Nebraska in 2022, Mathis saw his draft stock decline in the pre-draft process and he had a lack of production in college.

Even with his lack of production, Mathis has the ideal size at the edge rusher position and he tallied a 1.59 10-yard split, which would’ve tied him for the third-best mark among edge rushers at the combine. All three of Young, Hampton, and Mathis should get opportunities during the offseason to earn prominent roles.

Round 6, Pick 215: Zach Evans (RB, Ole Miss)

We all knew Sean McVay was going to take a running back at some point and the Rams traded up to select Evans with the 215th overall pick. The Ole Miss running back didn’t have an explosive 40-yard dash and his explosion grades were down on his RAS score.

On the other hand, his 20-yard split and three-cone drill show that he has home-run ability out of the backfield and he has a solid short-area burst. Injuries are one of the only concerns for Evans as he joins the Rams, who desperately need someone to complement Cam Akers in 2023.

Round 7, Pick 223: Ethan Evans (P, Wingate)

The Rams took a punter in Evans late in the draft and he understandably didn’t have testing that would qualify him for an RAS score. It should be noted, though, that he’s 6-foot-4 and he has nearly 35-inch arms (I have no clue what to do with that information).

Round 7, Pick 234: Jason Taylor II (S, Oklahoma State)

After losing Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp in free agency, the Rams took Taylor in the seventh round of the draft. While he’s on the smaller side for a safety, the Oklahoma State prospect produced impressive numbers in his speed and explosion testing.

Taylor produced the sixth-fastest 40-yard dash (4.50) among safeties at the combine and the second-highest vertical (43 inches). Even though he’ll need to improve in the run game, his skill set allows him to be a potential playmaking safety for the Rams at some point.

Round 7, Pick 259: Desjuan Johnson (IDL, Toledo)

If you look at Turner and Johnson’s RAS page, you’ll see that the Rams certainly have a type when they’re looking for an interior defender. The Rams added two undersized interior defenders, though, Turner is certainly the more athletic of the bunch.

Johnson did record a solid 10-yard split and 20-yard shuttle, which helped his RAS score a decent bit. The Toledo defensive lineman will have his work cut out for him as the last pick of the entire draft, but he could provide contributions in different areas with time to develop.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire