The confetti had barely settled on the Rams’ surprise playoff run in 2023 before the focus shifted to the upcoming NFL Draft. The team, hungry for another Super Bowl shot, knew their window wouldn’t stay open forever. Their defense, while valiant in the postseason, had exposed vulnerabilities. Addressing those weaknesses became the team’s primary objective in the 2024 draft. 

With the 19th overall pick, the Rams wasted no time selecting edge rusher Jared Verse. Verse, lauded by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. as the “most complete edge defender in the class,” wasn’t just a one-dimensional pass rusher. His ability to contribute in run defense perfectly complemented the Rams’ defensive scheme. This pick was met with widespread approval, with Kiper Jr. awarding the Rams a “B+” grade. 

However, the draft story for the Rams didn’t end there. Their decision to trade up in the second round to select defensive tackle Braden Fiske became a point of contention. The Rams surrendered their 2025 second-round pick in exchange for Fiske, a move that sparked debate among draft analysts. 

Some, like Bleacher Report’s Kris Knox, saw the trade as a calculated gamble. Knox, impressed by the Rams’ first four picks overall (including running back Blake Corum and safety Kamren Kinchens), believed these players could “improve the roster right away.” They addressed needs across the defense and added a dynamic backfield threat, bolstering the team’s offensive capabilities. 

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However, not everyone shared Knox’s optimism. The primary concern centered on the value surrendered for Fiske. Was a highly-rated defensive tackle worth giving up a future draft pick, especially for a team with championship aspirations? This question cast a shadow over the Rams’ draft strategy, with some experts feeling they overpaid for potential.

But some analysts, myself included, saw the potential for a major steal in Fiske. His college performance suggested a foundational piece for the defensive line. If he lives up to the hype, the Rams might have landed a cornerstone player at a relative bargain. The long-term impact hinges entirely on Fiske’s development, but the talent is undeniable.

Beyond the immediate analysis, the Rams’ draft strategy reflects a larger trend in the NFL: the “win-now” mentality. With a talented core in place, teams like the Rams are willing to sacrifice future assets for a shot at immediate glory. This strategy can pay off handsomely, but it also carries significant risks. A bad draft pick or a key player injury can derail championship aspirations and leave a team with a depleted draft chest for years to come. 

The success of the Rams’ 2024 draft class will be judged on the field. Did Verse become the dominant edge rusher they envisioned? Did Fiske solidify the defensive line? Did Corum inject life into the running game? These are the questions that will be answered over the upcoming season.

However, one thing is certain: the Rams made a bold statement with their draft picks. They acknowledged their defensive deficiencies and aggressively addressed them. The upcoming season will reveal whether their calculated gamble pays off or leaves them with a team in transition and a depleted draft war chest. The Rams’ 2024 draft will be a case study for years to come, highlighting the fine line between calculated risk and overpaying for potential in the pursuit of a championship.