This was the Los Angeles Rams' most important rookie class in a while, and we still don't have nearly enough information to judge it.
The Rams stocked up on offensive linemen in 2015 -- none of whom have really panned out -- then took a major gamble in 2016, sending a passel of picks to the Tennessee Titans for the right to draft first overall. The Rams selected quarterback Jared Goff out of Cal, then watched the Titans use three of their former picks in the second and third rounds. From Rounds 4 through 6, the Rams drafted pass-catchers with four of their five selections. And now they really need some of them click, with no first-round picks in 2017.
Below is a categorical look at how the Rams' first-year players have performed thus far.
Best rookie: We're going to go with Goff here, but that is only by default, largely because he has had more exposure than his rookie counterparts despite spending the first 10 weeks on the bench. Goff's numbers have not looked good, but that is largely a product of receivers who have dropped a lot of passes and an offensive line that is allowing way too much pressure. Goff has shown good arm strength getting the ball downfield and an ability to escape pressure. He seems to grow more comfortable with each passing week, but it is difficult to assess Goff until he gets a bit more help.
Most improved rookie: Josh Forrest, a sixth-round draft pick out of Kentucky, showed plenty of improvement before suffering a season-ending knee injury during the Week 11 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Forrest had emerged as the Rams' No. 3 linebacker, getting defensive snaps on three-linebacker sets. Asked about Forrest earlier this season, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said: "He's been in my dog house since the very first snap that he played, but all rookies are in my dog house. All rookies have to understand there's lots of people that have played this game way before them and we're not playing it for a scholarship anymore, we're not playing it for intramurals anymore. We're playing it for real. He had to get that little bit of a mode locked into him, but he's a good young kid and all he has done is improve. Every single day he's improved."
Most disappointing rookie: This is a tie between a couple of fourth-round picks, receiver Pharoh Cooper and tight end Tyler Higbee. And it isn't necessarily their fault. During the preseason, Cooper was locked in as the No. 3 receiver and Higbee appeared set to play a big part in the passing game. But three-quarters of the way through the season, Cooper had been on the field for only 93 snaps, ranked 17th among offensive players, and Higbee had drawn only 21 targets, tied for sixth on the team with Benny Cunningham, a third-down running back. Cooper, out of South Carolina, is expected to be a major weapon after the catch but was set back by a preseason shoulder injury. Higbee, from Western Kentucky, is a versatile tight end who can be a threat on the outside but has been brought along slowly.
The jury is still out on ... Michael Thomas: The 6-foot-1, 200-pound receiver was deemed in some circles to be a sleeper in the sixth round and is a potential threat on the outside. Thomas has played well as a gunner on special teams, but he fumbled the opening kickoff on Sunday and hasn't been able to break in at receiver. Two of the Rams' main vertical deep threats, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick, are free agents at the end of the year. Thomas could soon get his chance to show what he can do as a route runner.
Undrafted rookie check-in: The Rams lack depth at linebacker and in their secondary, opening up important playing time for a couple of undrafted rookies in linebacker Cory Littleton and cornerback Mike Jordan. Each has handled himself well, with Littleton becoming the third linebacker after Forrest was put on injured reserve and Jordan recently taking over on the outside while E.J. Gaines has recovered from a quad injury these last two games. The one to watch remains Nelson Spruce, an intriguing possession receiver who shined in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys but suffered a knee injury, then dealt with a calf ailment and never returned to the field. Spruce never lost his roster spot, however. The Rams clearly want to see more out of him next year.