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Inside the Draft Room: Completing the Class on Day 3

Check out a photo recap of the Rams' eight selections made during the 2017 NFL Draft.

Being on the West Coast might make things easier for the draft's start time on Thursday and Friday. But the noon EDT Saturday start means it's just after 9 a.m. PDT when the Packers get on the clock for the first selection of the fourth round — No. 108 overall.

It's just about 12 hours after general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay concluded their Day 2 press conference discussing the selections of tight end Gerald Everett, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and safety John Johnson. The Rams draft room feels a bit more casual on this day — Snead's wearing jeans and a light zip-up hoodie as opposed to last night's suit — but everyone seems refreshed and ready to go.

After a few minutes, offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur enters the room and begins talking with McVay, kneeling by the head coach's seat. At the same time, Snead is on the phone, telling whoever is on the other line, "So we've got a pick here…"

He means at No. 112, which is just a few away. It's clear the general manager is trying to deal for an extra pick, much like Los Angeles did to begin Day 2.

But as the Rams arrive on the clock, there's a possibility they might not trade down at all. They have a player in mind, but as the clock winds down, the decision-makers elect to roll the dice and execute the deal: Chicago receives No. 112 in exchange for No. 117 and No. 197 — a sixth-round pick that will shortly become critical.

There might be a few hold-your-breath moments, but the Rams wind up with they player they wanted all along five selections later: Josh Reynolds, wide receiver, Texas A&M.

The draft room is pumped.

"That's a hell of a value right there," someone says.

"We talked about taking him way higher after the Senior Bowl," says another.

"That was a guy that probably should've went in the second round. And to get him in the fourth round — that was a great pick for us," wide receivers coach Eric Yarber says later. "So very, very excited about it. He's a big-play guy. He can get down the field. For a guy that's tall and long-cut, he can really snap down and get out of breaks."

The TV on NFL Network is loud enough to hear when analyst Daniel Jeremiah says, "Does Les Snead get a free Senior Bowl T-Shirt?"

That makes the room laugh. But Mayock has a point — each of the Rams first four draft picks attended the Senior Bowl in late January. In all, six of the eight picks were in Mobile, Ala.

"It just happened to be a theme, but it's nothing that we planned. But it is intentional because we do really scrutinize the Senior Bowl, because it means something," Snead would say later at the day's press conference. "I think I mentioned it last night, usually when you go to the Senior Bowl and you play well there, you end up playing well in this league."

A bit after Reynolds' selection, a scout is scrolling through his Twitter feed and notices the wide receiver called his draft call "R-Rated" during his media session.

"What did he say that was R-Rated?" the scout asks.

"He said he was pissed. That's what I wanted to hear," Snead replies. "I asked if he wanted to be a Ram, he said, 'Hell yeah.'"

Los Angeles' next pick was slated for No. 141 — a compensatory selection at the bottom of the fourth round. But in what was nearly a blink-and-you'll-miss-it move, the club traded up to pick its second player from Eastern Washington: Samson Ebukam.

The phones were still working, but there wasn't much commotion as the Rams' brass worked out trading No. 141 and No. 197 — the extra sixth-round acquired from Chicago — to the Jets for No. 125. In fact, it's not clear the Rams have traded at all until director of player personnel Taylor Morton walks over to tell scouting assistant Michael Pierce — who is on headset with the club's representatives at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia — that L.A. needs to turn in a card for Ebukam.

With Ebukam on the phone, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Barry enter the room to speak with him, clearly excited to pick up a player who dominated at the FCS level.

"To me, the thing that's exciting about that is he played well in the big games. And it doesn't matter [which one] — every single playoff game they had, he played really well," Barry says after the call. "So that's important. And we're excited to have him because he brings an element of athleticism, of speed."

Because the club has no fifth-round pick, the next hour is fairly quiet in the draft room. At one point, EVP of football operations Kevin Demoff tells an inquiring team that the Rams will probably "hang tight" with their remaining picks.

Just after the sixth round begins at about 12:50, the defensive staff enters the room — Phillips, Barry, defensive line coach Bill Johnson, cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant, and safeties coach Ejiro Evero. At that point it's safe to say L.A. will select a defensive player at No. 189, the round's fifth pick. Eventually, the coaches and personnel staff come to a consensus: Tanzel Smart, defensive lineman, Tulane.

And it just so happens Smart was also in Mobile at the end of January.

"Another Senior Bowl T-shirt," Snead jokes to the room.

"My first exposure to him was at the Senior Bowl, and I thought he competed real well that week," Johnson says later. "He's just a productive player. He's very quick. He has good movement. He's not a very tall kid, but he overcomes it."

The Rams have another selection coming up 17 spots later. But at this point, many of the coaches and area scouts start working the phones to check on players they feel might be available as college free agents following the conclusion of the seventh round. No longer in the draft room, these individuals are on the phone in the hallway, in their offices, in the cafeteria, outside. It's a bit of organized chaos that will only get more intense once the Broncos select quarterback Chad Kelly as Mr. Irrelevant.

But as the selections approach No. 206, special teams coordinator John Fassel — who has been standing at the rear of the draft room, observing the proceedings — gets involved in the conversation between the decision-makers. At this point, any player taken will have to contribute on special teams to make the club.

It's pick No. 204 when Morton tells Pierce the name Los Angeles wants at No. 206: Sam Rogers, fullback, Virginia Tech. Everything goes according to plan at both 204 and 205, and Rogers becomes a L.A. Ram.

Fullbacks aren't necessarily the most in-demand position in 2017, but McVay sounded like he plans to use it in his offense.

"[I]f you have a guy that you feel like can fulfill that role, you can do some different things that might regulate a defense based on who you're going against," he'd say during the press conference Saturday evening.

After the selection, more phone calls to possible undrafted players go in. Folks are in and out of the draft room, having short meetings, making more notes. Soon, it's pick No. 234 and the Rams want to select Pitt outside linebacker Ejuan Price.

However, L.A. is having a hard time reaching him. Because there are only 19 selections left, there are plenty of teams trying to get in touch with Price to express their interest if he's left undrafted.

There's a bit of joking going on that Price could find out he's coming to L.A. from television, since the card's already been turned in. But then Morton is able to reach a member of Price's camp. Morton introduces himself, there's a pause, and then he says, "Tell him we're trying to draft him."

Price eventually comes to the phone, Snead and McVay welcome him to the team, and the Rams have completed their 2017 draft class.

"I think the biggest take away from this weekend was, when you acquire the eight players that we did, we were able to stay in alignment with the board we had set up," McVay says at the press conference about an hour later. "We feel like we were able to address a lot of those needs, but we also didn't overreach for a need. It seemed like a lot of the guys we had valued we were able to get at the spot that we wanted and that was kind of the goal for the weekend and we felt like we accomplished that."

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