Pharoah Cooper was the offensive MVP in the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl, with 170 yards receiving.
Yes, this was actually a thing, until Duck Commander (of “Duck Dynasty” fame) was dropped as the primary sponsor of the bowl game in March 2015. This might have had something to do with the fact that Duck Commander was entangled in a prickly lawsuit over failing to drink enough iced tea.
This year, it was obvious the Rams were more interested in shoring up their lackluster offense than anything else. In landing “their guy” in Cal QB Jared Goff with the first overall pick, Les Snead and Jeff Fisher have pinned their hopes (and job security) on the potential Goff has shown to be a franchise quarterback. However, the draft doesn’t end with round 1, and the Rams chose to spend 4 of the next 5 picks on skill position players from whom team management would like to see growth and development alongside their new franchise signal-caller.
The complete run-down of the Rams draft class this year:
Round 1, pick 1: Jared Goff, QB, Cal Berkeley
Goff set new Pac-12 records for passing yards (4714) and touchdowns (43) in a single season last year, besting statistics set by noteworthy Pac-12 alumni such as Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer. Then again, current Rams 3rd string QB Shawn Mannion in 2013 also had better stats than Luck and Palmer, while playing for the middling Oregon State Beavers.
Round 4, pick 12: Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky
A physically gifted receiving tight end from a backwater school, his draft stock slipped when he was arrested less than three weeks before the draft for second-degree assault, public intoxication and evading police.
Round 4, pick 19: Pharoah Cooper, WR, South Carolina
2 years from now, this may be seen as the great steal of this years draft, not only for the Rams, but for the NFL in general. “We’ve been watching ‘Coop’ seems like for a couple years now, and he is their favorite player, their best player,” Coach Fisher said. “They figure out a way to give him the ball. The statistics are obvious. You watch him and he is throwing the ball, his return skills, his run after catch, his ability to get open. He is a strong player. We felt like he would give us an addition target inside to uncover and do those kinds of things.” He has all the tools to be one of the great slot-type receivers in the NFL, and even lined up at quarterback a few times playing for the Gamecocks in the rough-and-tumble world of Confederate football (the Southeastern Conference).
Round 6, pick 12: Temarrick Hemingway, TE, South Carolina State
A big question mark coming from a small school, he has a ton of upside as a potential receiving TE in this league. “We’re looking for the future, on-the-line blocking tight end that can still get down the field and stretch defenses. These are the qualities that (Hemingway and Higbee) have”, Fisher said. “They can get down the field. They can catch, they’re big, they can run. We’ve seen it – they’ve worked out well. Their workout traits, comparatively speaking, are very, very good.”
Round 6, pick 15: Josh Forrest, LB, Kentucky
Forrest didn’t nail down a starting job on the Wildcat’s defense until his final two years at UK, but he totaled 203 combined tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, seven passes defensed, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. He can obviously cover alot of ground and won’t be called upon to start this season, so he has time to develop.
Round 6, pick 31: Mike Thomas, WR, Southern Miss.
Thomas caught 71 passes for 1,391 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015; during his team’s bowl game against Washington, he totaled 190 yards and two scores. This might pan out to be the Rams’ second best draft pick from the 2016 class. He has the ability to stretch the field vertically and complement Goff’s excellent mid-to-deep field throwing accuracy. Look for a breakout 2017 from this underrated stud. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports