Rams choose physicality and defense in the 2024 NFL Draft

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
The Rams use their 11 draft picks to address needs, shore up their defense and possibly find an Aaron Donald replacement.

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — After an offseason that included the departure of a surefire Hall of Famer in Aaron Donald, the Rams had some decisions to make in the draft. The excess amount of cap space to use in free agency allowed the Rams to focus on two areas: the secondary and protection of Matthew Stafford in the pocket. 

So what did that mean for the draft? Defense, defense, defense. The Rams chose to get beefier, physical, and smart with their draft and UDFA (undrafted free agent) path. Let’s get into it.

Here are my favorite picks:

I had been very adamant about the Rams selecting an Edge or Defensive Tackle at the 19 spot in the first round, and while Laiatu Latu went to the Colts at the 15th pick, Jared Verse fell to 19 and the Rams capitalized on that fall. 

Verse was projected in some mocks to go top 15, but with the outburst of offensive players taken in the early part of the draft, it allowed better defenders to be available late. 

Verse is a powerful and physical Edge out of the undefeated Florida State Seminoles that totaled 9.0 sacks in 2023 (which led the team), and has a knack for bullying his way to get to the quarterback. 

Fans have been clamoring for an Edge to line up across from Byron Young, and the Rams finally have one, to shore up the pass rush and also the run game on the defensive line. 

Defensive Tackle Braden Fiske will once again be teammates with his fellow Florida State alumni Jared Verse. The Rams traded up in the second round to select Fiske at 39, which shows how much Les Snead and Sean Mcvay loved his play. 

He has a quick twitch at the line, who can penetrate at an elite level, and while not as physical and powerful as Verse, Fiske uses speed and technique to get into the backfield. Both Verse and Fiske have a very high motor, with the ability to improve very quickly once they get used to the schemes that the Rams will employ. 

If we remember Greg Gaines throughout the Rams 2021 championship run, I believe Fiske can be a better version of him, and rotate in and out with the ability to bully opposing offensive lines.  

I never thought Blake Corum would be available for the Rams to draft in the third round, but he was and they took the chance. Corum is a running back out of the reigning National Champion, Michigan Wolverines, who has a similar playstyle and stature to the current running back for the Rams, Kyren Williams. 

Many have speculated that this pick means the Rams aren’t confident in Williams’ abilities to sustain his performance from the 2023 season, but I will put all of that to rest. This was a pick made to supplement Williams, not take away from him. 

It was obvious that Kyren was used a ton and it degraded his abilities at times, so adding a running back similar in ability and athletic talent to pair with him, is fantastic. It keeps Williams fresher, and allows Corum to step in if injuries occur (which has been an issue with Williams over the past two years). 

Some have said that this is the steal of the draft. Brennan Jackson is a 6-foot-4, 264-pound linebacker out of Washington State, and he led the team in 2023 with 12.5 tackles for a loss, while also recording 8.0 sacks. 

The Rams needed another linebacker to pair with Ernest Jones, who is primed for his best season as a professional, and the Rams got a very good one in the fifth round with Jackson. 

He even has the ability to play the Edge role as well if need be. Les Snead has had a knack at finding amazing talent in the fifth round recently (Kyren Williams and Puka Nacua), so I have full confidence in their ability to draft late.

The Rams are already calling this guy “Karty B,” and if he has as many hits as the musical artist, the Rams could have another steal on their hands. 

Since Matt Gay left in free agency to the Colts for a record setting deal for a kicker, the Rams have been searching for a replacement. Cycling through many different options, the team really struggled in the kicking department and it contributed to some coaching manipulation and even some losses over the last two years. 

Now, the Rams hopefully have their kicker of the future in Joshua Karty. He made all 21 of his extra point attempts and 23 of 27 field goal attempts in 2023. The stat that the Rams loved about Karty however, is that he was 4 of 7 from 50 or more yards with a long of 56, including a career high 61 yarder at Stanford. An underrated pick, but one that I think was a home run for a huge need on special teams. 

My fellow draft followers and excellent evaluators that I talk to on a consistent basis absolutely loved this pick, and felt like it was unbelievable that the Rams were able to get him at 217. 

Beaux Limmer is a 6-foot-5, 302-pound offensive lineman from Arkansas, and can play both guard and center. Limmer is a fantastic athlete and can move with ease, especially in the run game at the second level. While he isn’t your prototypical lineman, and isn’t as big as others, he plays huge. 

The best thing about Limmer is his technique and fundamentals, and while he won’t be a power lineman that can move defenders back, he can use his hands and form to push them out of the way with force. I would not be surprised to see him get significant playing time this year if Steve Avila moving to center doesn’t work immediately.