No first-rounder, no problem? Rams prepare for fifth draft without a first-round selection

Cam Akers was the Rams' first draft pick last year and is set to be their featured back in 2021 after finishing strong down the stretch as a rookie. Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- When the NFL draft begins April 29, it's expected to be a quiet evening around the Los Angeles Rams' draft headquarters.

For a fifth consecutive year, the Rams are not scheduled to make a first-round selection and barring another blockbuster move, they won't make a first-round pick until 2024.

The Rams sent their 2020 and 2021 first-round picks (No. 25 overall), along with a fourth-round selection (No. 130) to the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of the 2019 trade deadline in exchange for All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

And their 2022 and 2023 first-round picks, along with a third-round selection (No. 101) were shipped to Detroit along with quarterback Jared Goff -- the last player the Rams picked in the first round (No. 1 overall in 2016) and who also cost a 2017 first-round pick to trade up for -- in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Unless a future trade is made to return to the first round it could be a historic drought, as the Rams are set to become only the third team since the 1970 merger to go seven years without a first-round selection, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Their 2018 first-round pick (No. 23 overall) was sent to the New England Patriots in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who was traded in 2019 to the Houston Texans. The following year, the Rams traded out of the first round (No. 31) to stockpile more picks.

During their four-year first-round drought, the Rams have won two division titles, an NFC championship and have appeared in the playoffs three times.

This year, the Rams own six draft picks, including a second-round pick (No. 57), two third-round selections (Nos. 88 & 103), a fourth-round pick (No. 141), sixth-round pick (No. 209) and a seventh-round selection (No. 252).

Here's a look at how the Rams first overall picks the past four years -- since not owning a first-round selection -- have panned out:


TE Gerald Everett, Round 2, No. 44 overall

Everett contributed throughout his four seasons but never materialized into a full-time starter playing behind Tyler Higbee. Last month, Everett signed a one-year deal worth up to $7 million with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. It became apparent during the 2019 draft, when the Rams used a fourth-round pick to select Brycen Hopkins, that Everett's time in L.A. was limited. In four seasons, Everett caught 127 passes for 1,389 yards and eight touchdowns.


OL Joe Noteboom, Round 3, No. 89 overall

The Rams selected Noteboom to learn from and eventually take over for left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was 35 years old at the time of Noteboom's selection and seemingly had only one or two seasons remaining as a starter. However, fast forward four seasons and Whitworth is anticipated to start again in 2021 and has two additional seasons remaining on a deal that he signed before 2020.

So where does that leave Noteboom? Entering the final season of his rookie contract, that's a great mystery. Noteboom filled in last season at left tackle when Whitworth was sidelined because of a knee injury and the fourth-year pro also has experience starting at left guard.


S Taylor Rapp, Round 2, No. 61 overall

Rapp was thrust into a starting role seven games into his rookie season when former Rams safety John Johnson III suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. As a rookie, Rapp earned the trust of veteran teammates and intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, in 10 starts. Rapp was expected to maintain a starting role in 2020 but was sidelined and slowed during training camp because of a knee issue and lost his starting job to rookie safety Jordan Fuller. After Johnson signed with the Cleveland Browns in free agency last month, expect Rapp to return to a starting role.


RB Cam Akers, Round 2, No. 52 overall

In a three-man running back committee, Akers earned the starting role out of training camp but was sidelined after two games because of a rib injury. In 13 games, including five starts, Akers rushed for 625 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown and has earned the feature back role moving forward after outstanding performances in the latter half of the season.

Other notable mid-to-late-round selections by the Rams in the past four drafts:


WR Cooper Kupp, Round 3, No. 69 overall; S John Johnson III, Round 3, No. 91 overall

The Rams selected eight players in the 2017 draft but Kupp is the only one remaining on the team. He is entering the first season of a three-year, $47.25 million contract extension and will be a go-to target for Stafford. After four seasons and eight interceptions, Johnson entered free agency and signed a three-year, $33.75 million contract with the Browns.


DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, Round 6, No. 195 overall

Joseph-Day was inactive every game his rookie season but spent the year quietly developing and has been a mainstay on the defensive line since. Joseph-Day has started 31 games the past two seasons, the most of any of the 11 players the Rams selected in 2018.


RB Darrell Henderson Jr., Round 3, No. 70 overall

The Rams selected Henderson to be a change-of-pace back behind Todd Gurley II in 2019 but Henderson saw little action as a rookie, rushing for 147 yards on 39 carries. Last season, following Akers' injury, Henderson moved into the starting role. In 11 starts, he rushed for 624 yards and five touchdowns on 138 carries, but did not solidify himself as a feature back and is expected to play a complementary role in 2021.


S Jordan Fuller, Round 6, No. 199 overall

With Rapp's injury, Fuller capitalized on repetitions with the starters and earned a starting role out of training camp as a rookie. Despite being placed on short-term injured reserve early in the season because of a shoulder injury, Fuller started 12 games and intercepted three passes and had five pass deflections.