After grabbing Goff, Rams finally get 4 more picks Saturday
LOS ANGELES (AP) Two days after landing Jared Goff, the Los Angeles Rams went out and got him a whole bunch of targets in the later rounds of the NFL draft.
The Rams picked troubled Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee and South Carolina receiver Pharoh Cooper in the fourth round. Los Angeles chose another big tight end with the second pick of the sixth round, getting South Carolina State's Temarrick Hemingway, before adding Southern Miss receiver Michael Thomas later in the sixth.
The Rams also picked Kentucky linebacker Josh Forrest in the sixth round, but they met their goal to bolster Goff's chances to improve the NFL's least productive passing offense, total offense and receiving corps last season.
''Offense was the priority for us,'' coach Jeff Fisher said. ''Real excited to have the tight ends we could add to that position, and of course, two receivers are going to help that depth as well. Really excited how things went off.''
The Rams didn't have a pick in the second or third rounds because they gave up those selections to get their franchise quarterback. Los Angeles chose Goff with the first overall pick, sending a package of six picks to Tennessee to move up.
Although their draft was thin, the Rams addressed their greatest need with a group of pass-catchers to learn the pro game alongside Goff.
''Higbee had fallen, and Hemingway was a guy we targeted, and we got both of them,'' Rams general manager Les Snead said. ''We were saying how nice it is when you do draft in clumps. We did it last year with (offensive linemen). They could grow together. ... We came into this draft very thin at tight end in terms of depth, and we come out of it where we feel good about it.''
The 6-foot-6 Higbee was an outstanding collegiate pass-catcher, making 38 receptions for 563 yards and eight touchdowns last year in an offense run by Tyson Helton, now the quarterbacks coach at Southern California.
Higbee was considered one of the top tight end prospects in the draft, but his stock slumped earlier this month when he was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and other offenses after an altercation outside a bar in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
''It's an incident that I can't let define me,'' Higbee said, declining extensive comment. ''I've been trying to keep my mind focused and stay working.''
Police said Higbee punched a man before attempting to evade officers.
''It's an ongoing issue, but we're convinced it's going to be resolved,'' Fisher said. ''He wouldn't be a Ram had we had some concerns that there was going to be a problem down the line.''
Higbee's preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday, but he intends to be in Oxnard, California, on the weekend for the Rams' rookie camp.
''When you go from college to become a professional (and) there's behavior to clean up, we expect that to happen,'' Snead said. ''In this case, the research we did, we did feel like he was a guy worth investing in for the long term. It's a mistake. Wish he had it to do over again.''
If Higbee overcomes his legal woes, he could be a solid replacement for Jared Cook. The Rams released the tight end earlier in the offseason even though he was their second-leading receiver last season with 39 catches for 481 yards.
Cooper had 135 catches over the past two seasons with the Gamecocks while also lining up occasionally as a Wildcat quarterback. He expected to go earlier, but was thrilled to land alongside Goff.
''(Friday) night, I couldn't get any sleep,'' Cooper said. ''I was banking on going second or third (round), honestly, just from hearing everything. It is absolutely motivation. That's all it is: motivation. Go in there and prove that I should have been a first-round pick or a second-round pick.''
The 6-foot-5 Hemingway is an intriguing prospect that Fisher is eager to mold. Hemingway said he ''cried immediately'' after getting drafted before vowing to improve his strength and technique during the Rams' offseason.
Even Forrest has pass-catching talent: He arrived at Kentucky as a skinny receiver before adding 50 pounds and growing into the Wildcats' two-time leading tackler.
Thomas set single-season school records for yards receiving and touchdowns as a senior, but inexplicably didn't get invited to the draft combine. The Rams love his outside speed and competitive drive to make difficult catches.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL