Though they came into Day 2 with two picks, the Rams ended the evening with three players after a key trade.
Los Angeles selected tight end Gerald Everett in the second round, followed by wide receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson in the third.
"These are guys that Les and his staff had really targeted for a long time," Rams head coach Sean McVay said, referring to general manager Les Snead. "We know we got better with three spots."
In order to do that, the Rams traded their No. 37 and No. 149 picks for the Bills' No. 44 and No. 91 selections. With a pick early in the second round, Snead said he had an idea the phone might start buzzing with teams trying to move up.
"I think if we go back a couple drafts ago … I do remember we had an early pick in the second round, we were going to draft some OL — we had done Gurley — and there were a lot of OL on the board, and it was just hard to pick, who do we want? And at that moment, there were a lot of teams — the phone just started buzzing," Snead said.
"So I think I remember writing a note down then — you know what, if you ever have an early second-round pick, it's a good spot to be in," Snead continued. "Usually, there's a lot of teams that want to move up."
It worked out well for the Rams in this case, with the club picking up a selection in the third round while still selecting Everett — a player Snead called one of McVay's favorites in the entire draft.
"Gerald was one of those guys that was, let's call it Scenario A, Scenario 1," Snead said. "You always prepare trying to figure out where you can get players in the draft, but that's the guesstimate at times and you can lose him. But we thought that if we did move back, get an extra third-round selection, we could also still get Gerald."
Everett began his college career at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but transferred to the University of South Alabama once UAB's football program was shut down. In two years at South Alabama, Everett caught 90 passes for 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"I think I bring the complete package of a tight end," Everett told reporters on Friday. "Definitely a vertical threat first, but also being a willing blocker in the run game — just being able to create that mismatch at any point of time in the game."
The tight end likely projects more as a receiver early on in his career, particularly as he'll have to adjust from being a part of a spread offense in college. But McVay seemed excited at the prospect of using Everett, Tyler Higbee, and Temarrick Hemingway all on the field at once.
"Being able to add a player like Gerald Everett, I think those three complement each other very well," McVay said. "When you can do some different things out of that '13' personnel package, where you're playing with one back, three tight ends, and a receiver, you can do some different things — especially when all those guys have the ability to catch the football and run."
L.A. used its original third-round selection to pick Kupp, who set 15 FCS records as a receiver at Eastern Washington. Kupp played in 52 college games and started them all, amassing 428 receptions, 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns.
"I think I bring versatility. A guy that's going to know the offense inside and out. A guy that's going to be ready to go Day 1," Kupp said on a conference call. "I pride myself on that, on learning the offense — I know exactly what I need to be a guy that can be reliable and be able to get first downs."
"His above-the neck approach, in terms of the way that he sees the game, it's almost through the quarterback's perspective," McVay said. "You can see he's always got a plan at the line of scrimmage with how he's going to work versus different coverages and where the holes are in that coverage. And he's got great hands."
Snead acknowledged Kupp's 40 time at the NFL Combine may not have been the most impressive. But the GM said the wideout has plenty of measurables that stack up next to players who have been successful.
"You take his agility work — the three-cone [drill] and the short-shuttle — they're elite," Snead said. "They match up with some of the elite slot receivers in our league."
Johnson played both safety and corner in his time at Boston College, but started all 13 games at free safety in 2016. And safety is where he will begin his career with the Rams, though the club likes his positional flexibility.
"When you look at John, what you're able to see from him is a big body of work, where he's playing underneath as a safety, he's playing in the hole in the middle of the field, he's playing over the top as a half-field player," McVay said. "He started games at corner. So you have a lot of good things to evaluate and those will be things that we ask our safeties to do. At any given time, you might be asked to play in the middle of the field, underneath."
"I think I fit best as a safety, although I think I have a corner body type," Johnson said on a conference call. "I came into Boston College as a corner. I like covering man-to-man and I like covering intermediate zone. So, I think I have a corner body but I think I fit best as a safety."
Johnson picked off three passes and was second on Boston College with 77 tackles in 2016. But Johnson could also become a key contributor on special teams, as McVay said coordinator John Fassel was impressed with him.
"John [Fassel] really liked him, valued him as one of the top core players in this draft because when he did play core special teams, he made a difference," McVay said.
As the Rams head into Day 3 — starting at the early hour of 9 a.m. on the West Coast — Snead and McVay feel good about the Day 2 additions to their club.
"These are high-character guys that will get us better overall as a football team, and players that we had targeted, and kind of exactly what we wanted to come out of tonight with," McVay said. "So that's a great start for us."