The Detroit Lions have their new general manager on board in Brad Holmes, the former Los Angeles Rams director of college scouting.
Without having true general manager experience, it’s difficult to gauge what Holmes will be like as the lead personnel decision-maker.
The closest thing to evaluate is the Rams’ draft history since 2013 -- Holmes' first season in the role of head of college scouting.
Obviously, considering he wasn’t the general manager of the team, he may not have had the final say in each selection. But, he definitely was a factor in the overall process.
Like every organization, no draft history is perfect. There are hits, and there are misses.
The key is that there are more “steals” or selections of elite-level talent than busts.
Holmes' job wasn't an easy one, either, as the Rams haven't had a first-round pick in the past four drafts.
Here are three of the best draft picks of the Rams while under Holmes’ supervision.
1.) Safety John Johnson III
Johnson is the antithesis of his former Boston College teammate and current Lions safety Will Harris.
Harris was a superior athlete and less instinctual.
Meanwhile, Johnson never created much draft buzz because just about every athletic measurement of his was average.
Johnson was also a third-round selection, and drafted two years ahead of Harris.
Despite Johnson spending plenty of time in the box, he still has racked up eight interceptions and 24 pass break-ups in just four seasons in the NFL.
Barring his injury-riddled 2019 season, Johnson has not had an overall Pro Football Focus grade fall below 81.5. Overall, Johnson has been a great pickup, considering the round he was selected.
It is worth noting that Johnson is a free agent this offseason, and by connecting the dots, could be a target for the Lions' defensive overhaul.
2.) Wide receiver Cooper Kupp
Kupp was a stats machine while in college, and it has transferred to the next level.
He followed up his collegiate career with an impressive Senior Bowl week, as well.
Much like Johnson, Kupp didn’t necessarily wow anybody with his athletic profile at the combine, but that didn’t stop Holmes from taking a chance.
Taken in the same draft class as wideouts Kenny Golladay, Mike Williams, Corey Davis, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chris Godwin, Kupp is at least producing top statistical numbers in almost every major receiving category, including being tops in the NFL for the most yards per game.
Now, it’s fair to point out that Kupp was selected before both Godwin and Golladay. A case could be made that it would have been the better option to select one of the latter two Pro Bowlers.
Still, Kupp in the third round was great value.
3.) Defensive tackle Aaron Donald
The name no Lions fan wants to see. The one who got away.
Donald was available for the Lions to select in the 2014 NFL Draft, yet they passed on one of the best defenders to ever play the game to take tight end Eric Ebron at No. 10 overall.
Donald would fall to No. 13, before the Rams eventually scooped him up.
Reportedly, Holmes was very high on Donald.
Even though many felt that Donald’s stature was too small to make a huge impact in the NFL, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
The star defensive lineman won Defensive Rookie of the Year, has made the Pro Bowl every season in his career, is a six-time first-team All Pro and has two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards to his name.
Unfortunately, the Rams also drafted a huge bust in offensive tackle Greg Robinson at No. 2 overall that same year.
Apparently, the organization liked his potential more than Donald’s.
That is a bit concerning. But, the Rams still came away with a future Hall of Famer and a true difference-maker.
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