With the team’s first pick at the end of round two at No. 57, Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead preached patience.
“Where we were picking, there was an element of waiting and letting the draft come to you a little bit because if you want to call it -- there was a lot of ‘enemies’ in front of us that made decisions for us,” joked Snead. “But we were jacked the way it turned out and we’re jacked to add a fourth rounder for tomorrow and have three in round four.”
The Rams stayed and picked at No. 57, selecting diminutive but electric receiver Tutu Atwell from Louisville.
Los Angeles then grabbed a potential, every-down linebacker in Ernest Jones out of South Carolina in the third round at No. 88. And with the other third round selection at No 103, Snead traded down with the San Francisco 49ers, picking up two, fourth round selections in Day 3 of the draft at No. 117 and 121.
The Rams now have five selections in Day 3, including three in the fourth round (No. 117, No. 121, No. 141), one in the sixth round (No. 209) and one in the seventh round (No. 252).
Even though he’s only listed at 5-9 and 155 pounds, Rams head coach Sean McVay loved the playmaking ability of Atwell. He compared Atwell to recent addition DeSean Jackson with his speed and ability to make plays down the field.
“I see a player that plays a lot bigger than that,” McVay said. “I’ve been around some of these guys that don’t measure as big, but they play big. He seems like a friendly target on those intermediate and down-the-field routes.
“I think he does an excellent job of playing big where he’s going up, I see him high point some balls down the field. I think that’s where we always talk about the tape guides our decision-making. You don’t want to be naive to the facts of some of the overall stature and size, but I've been around a lot of guys that have measured the same and different guys play big.”
Atwell said he had a couple zoom calls with the Rams, including receiver coach Eric Yarber, who told him not to be surprised if the Rams don’t let him get past the second round.
“I just come with a chip on my shoulder at all times, no matter what the situation is, and I'm going to go get it,” Atwell said, when asked about his size. “So, I’m just ready for the season to start and ready to get to it.”
Like Atwell, the Rams believe Jones can come in right away and compete for time at linebacker. At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Snead said the Rams liked Jones’ length as a blitzer and his ability to man the middle of the defense.
“You just watch the play energy and the way he brings it, everybody kind of elevates around him,” McVay said. “Those are things that we’re really excited about, being able to get him in the building and get to work with him and seeing what he provides for that inside linebacker group, where a lot of guys have got a lot of great production and playing time last year for the first time in their careers.”
Like Atwell, Jones also said he had conversations with the Rams leading up to the draft and felt he might end up in Los Angeles.
“I’m going to do whatever they come in there and ask me to do,” said Jones, who led South Carolina in tackles the past two seasons. “I’m going to deliver whatever they tell me and the tasks they put in front of me, it’s going to get handled on my end. I’m going to come in and work hard, learn what I need to learn, so I can be productive for this team in any aspect.”
Heading into Day 3 of the draft, Snead said there will be some competition from the position coaches banging the table for players they want to get into the fold.
“We do have a list of players, but I think what we'll do between now -- because really we were working somewhat off of a board with second and third rounders,” Snead said. “Now we’ll probably have to go add a few players to the list tomorrow. So, we’ll refine it over the next however many hours it is and determine where we’re at, who we picked, what we might need and things like that.
“It gets fun when you are at that part of the draft where there’ll be a lot of position coaches fighting for different players, just because you only have -- I think we got three (picks) in the fourth and maybe a six and a seven, so we have to figure it out.”