EARTH CITY, Mo. -- We are still more than two months away from the 2016 NFL draft, but with the NFL's annual scouting combine coming up in a couple of weeks we'll be in the thick of draft season soon enough.
So before we get there, I thought now would be a good time to look back at the Rams' 2015 draft class, how it performed and what can be expected moving forward in 2016.
Here's how it looks:
RB Todd Gurley -- Safe to say the No. 10 overall pick was a success. Gurley was named the NFL's offensive rookie of the year last weekend despite playing in only 13 games. He'll be another year removed from ACL surgery next year and should only get stronger the further away from that injury he gets. Gurley is the focal point of this offense now and for the foreseeable future. If the Rams can figure out a way to improve their woeful passing game, Gurley has a chance to push for a rushing crown as soon as next season.
OT Rob Havenstein -- Havenstein plugged in immediately as the starting right tackle, but some hiccups in the preseason left some wondering if he'd be able to hold up over the course of the season. As it turned out, Havenstein was actually one of the team's two most consistent linemen all year. Pro Football Focus gave Havenstein solid marks for his rookie season and had him as the only offensive tackle to play 12 or more games and not allow a sack. Havenstein did have some health problems, missing three games along the way, but if he can be more durable he should be a solid starter moving forward.
OL Jamon Brown -- Like Havenstein, Brown jumped into the starting lineup right away, though he played some musical chairs between the two guard spots before settling in on the left side to open the season. Also like Havenstein, Brown had some early struggles but flashed potential along the way. He had more serious injury issues, though, including a broken leg that cost him seven games. He started nine game and should land right back in a starting guard spot next season, but his growth was likely slowed a bit by the injury.
QB Sean Mannion -- Mannion's rookie season was essentially a red-shirt year as he appeared in just one game, getting mop-up duty in a blowout loss to Cincinnati. He completed six-of-seven for 31 yards in that lone appearance and was inactive for the other 15 contests. Clearly, the Rams didn't believe he was ready for a bigger role and decided to keep him out even after the playoffs were not mathematically possible. In an ideal world, Mannion will come back ready to push for the starter spot, but there weren't many indications that the Rams believe he's ready to be more than a potential No. 2 in 2016. Mannion is smart and has a strong arm but his release and accuracy still need improvement. The Rams will likely bring in at least one signal caller to compete this offseason, so Mannion will need to take a step forward to solidify his spot.
OL Andrew Donnal -- Just when Donnal was poised to get some real playing experience, he suffered a knee injury that effectively ended his season. He played in five games but only got legitimate snaps in two of them, including a start against the Minnesota Vikings. It was a small sample size and Donnal struggled in that Vikings game, but the Rams like his toughness and versatility. Depending on what the Rams decide with oft-injured offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, Donnal could compete for a starting guard spot opposite Brown in 2016.
OL Cody Wichmann -- After Donnal suffered his injury, it opened the door for Wichmann, who started the final seven games of the season. Wichmann came as advertised, offering the strength and blue-collar approach the Rams believed they were getting when they drafted him in the sixth round. That was valuable playing experience for Wichmann, who also could be in the mix to battle for a starting job at guard if the Rams choose to part ways with Saffold. By the end of the season, Wichmann looked like one of the more improved young players on the roster and has earned the right to get a longer look next season.
LB Bryce Hager -- The seventh-round pick out of Baylor managed to land a roster spot in the role of core special-teams player. He was solid in that regard all season as he appeared in all 16 games. Expect him to continue in that role in 2016.