Looking Back at the 2016 NFL Draft

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They say it takes three years before you can accurately grade a draft class. That doesn’t stop analysts from grading drafts the day after, but three years of play should be enough time to gather what a player is going to be in the NFL. In 2016 the Los Angeles Rams made a blockbuster trade to move up to take quarterback Jared Goff. Let’s take a look at how it all turned out. 


Round 1, Pick 1 – QB Jared Goff, California


With the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams selected Jared Goff. However, getting there didn’t come cheap. The Rams moved up from 15 to 1 by giving up its first, second, and third round selections in 2016 and first, second, and third round selections in 2017. The Rams also received a fourth, sixth, and seventh round selection from the Titans. Here’s how the trade ended up:


Rams receive:


– QB Jared Goff

– WR Pharoh Cooper

– TE Temarrick Hemmingway 

– WR Mike Thomas


Jared Goff has become a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Rams and has more playoff wins and just three less wins than Marcus Mariota despite starting 0-7 and having played 17 less games. Goff led the Rams to their first Super Bowl since 2001 and is without a doubt the team’s franchise quarterback. 


Of the other three picks, only Mike Thomas remains on the roster. 


Titans receive: 


– OL Jack Conklin

– DT Austin Johnson

– RB Derrick Henry

– CB LeShaun Sims

– CB Kalan Reed

– WR Corey Davis

– TE Jonnu Smith 


Jack Conklin was an All-Pro offensive lineman his rookie year, but the Titans did just decline his fifth-year rookie option. He regressed in his second year and has yet to find his rookie year form. 


Austin Johnson has become a rotational run-stopping defensive tackle while Henry has shown flashes but hasn’t been given the reigns to the starting job – although that could change this year. LeShaun Sims has been cornerback depth and Kalan Reed is no longer apart of the team.


In 2017 the Titans drafted Corey Davis who has been inconsistent, but showed promise last season. He’s only recorded two games of 100 yards in his career while dealing with a hurt Marcus Mariota. Jonnu Smith also shows promise at the tight end position. Smith struggled initially to take over for Delanie Walker after his injury, but came on towards the end of the year, recording 13 receptions for 185 yards and three scores over a four week stretch. 


Overall, the Rams got their franchise quarterback while the Titans received an All-Pro offensive tackle, a potential top-20 running back, and question marks as of right now at wide receiver and tight end. Depending on what happen with Davis and Smith, this may be a rare occasion in which both teams got exactly what they were looking for in a trade. 


Grade: A+


The Rams got their franchise quarterback. You take that trade 100 out of 100 times. Had the Rams stayed put, their options would have been limited. They could have gone for Dak Prescott later on, but after his rookie season, he’s shows his limitations and hit his ceiling. Paxton Lynch was the next quarterback taken and he has made just four career starts. 


Round 4, Pick 110 – TE Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky


Higbee has been a serviceable tight end in his three years as a Ram. He’ll probably never be a difference maker, but he has proven he has a spot as a TE2 on this roster. As a fourth round pick, Higbee has made 39 starts and has the third most receiving yards among tight ends in the 2016 class. That’s not bad value. 


Grade: A-


In Tyler Higbee, the Rams have a serviceable TE2. On day three of the draft, you’re looking for depth guys that have potential to start. Les Snead got exactly that in Higbee. It isn’t easy finding good players on day three and Higbee has proven that while not a difference maker, he certainly serves a purpose on the roster which is why I have to give the Rams an A- for this pick. 


Round 4, Pick 117 – WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina


The Rams found a gem seven picks after Higbee in Pharoh Cooper. The wide receiver out of South Carolina never made a true impact on offense. but as a return man, he made a pro bowl. He is no longer on the Rams’ roster, but he is one of just three Pro Bowlers that were drafted in the fourth round that season. I’ll knock


Grade: B-


If Pharoh Cooper were still on the roster, this might be an A. However, Cooper was cut last season. At the end of the day, the Rams found a pro bowler in the fourth round. It’s hard to find a starter that late in the draft, let alone a pro bowler. Drafting Cooper was a good move. 


Round 6, Pick 177 – TE Temarrick Hemingway, South Carolina State


It’s tough to find talent in the sixth round. Unfortunately due to injuries, Hemingway never really panned out despite his raw athletic ability. Blake Countess was drafted by the Eagles, but cut after the preseason. Countess spent the last three years on the Rams and could have been secured at 177.


Grade: D+


Hemingway didn’t appear in a single regular season game for the Rams. Meanwhile, Blake Countess has been solid depth in the team’s secondary over the last three years even though he was just cut on Thursday. Taking Countess would have made more sense and been better value. 


Round 6, Pick 190 – LB Josh Forrest, Kentucky


Josh Forrest started four games for the Rams in 2016 before being waived a year later. 


Grade: C-


Again, while Forrest started four games as a sixth round pick, the Eagles took Countess six picks later who spent the next three years on the Rams. 


Round 6, Pick 206 – WR Mike Thomas, Missouri


Thomas was thought to have been a steal here. A PED suspension in 2017 had him sit out the first four games, hurting any chance for him to make an impact after he allegedly had a good camp and then a groin injury put him on IR last season. The biggest thing Thomas is known for is dropping a sure-touchdown in Seattle from Jared Goff. It would be a shock if he is on the roster after training camp this year. 


Grade: C


While Thomas didn’t become the steal many thought he’d become, he has made 24 appearances. Late the sixth round, that’s all you can ask for. 


Mel Kiper Jr.’s Initial Draft Grade: B-


My After Three Years Draft Grade: A


While the Rams only got two starters out of this draft, it was always going to be their first pick that determined the success of this draft. Les Snead successfully moved on from Case Keenum and selected the team’s franchise quarterback first overall. That in itself is an accomplishment and what makes the 2016 draft an A. 





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