Within the first nine picks, the three best receivers came off the board. From selections 19 to 29, the top three tight ends were gone, too. And by the end of Thursday's first round, eight defensive backs had been taken.
But Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead insists that the player he's targeted for the 37th overall pick, whomever that is, remains on the board.
"He's still there," Snead told reporters from the team facility on Thursday night. "That's part of trying to handicap who will be gone in the first. We weren't playing fantasy football and had a certain player up there that wasn't going to be there."
With the No. 5 pick -- acquired in the deal last year that prompted the Rams' selection of Jared Goff at No. 1 overall -- the Titans reached for Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis, who was nothing more than a pipe dream for the Rams. With the 18th pick, they reached for USC corner Adoree' Jackson, who grew up near St. Louis and remained -- until that night -- an ardent Rams fan.
Clemson receiver Mike Williams went to the Rams' new crosstown rival, the now-L.A. Chargers, at No. 7, and Washington speedster John Ross followed at No. 9 to the Bengals. Alabama tight end O.J. Howard then went to the Buccaneers at 19 and Miami tight end David Njoku was selected by the Browns with their third first-round pick, No. 29. In between, Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram -- linked frequently to the Rams over the last few weeks -- was scooped up by the Giants at 23.
The Rams also waved goodbye to LSU safety Jamal Adams (Jets), Ohio State corner Marshon Lattimore (Saints), Ohio State safety Malik Hooker (Colts), Alabama corner Marlon Humphrey (Ravens), Ohio State corner Gareon Conley (Raiders), Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers (Browns), LSU corner Tre'Davious White (Bills) and Jackson.
They remain hopeful.
"The thing that you do feel good about when you look at the depth of this draft," first-year Rams coach Sean McVay said, "there’s a lot of good players at different positions that we feel really good about, and that kind of gives us some flexibility in terms of what we’ll want to do at 37 that’s going to help us get better as a football team.”
The best receiver remaining is East Carolina's Zay Jones, who's 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and sure-handed. If either of the four teams ahead of them -- the Packers, Seahawks, Jaguars and Bears -- draft Jones, the Rams can turn to USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster or Ohio State's Curtis Samuel if they still crave a receiver. But that would mean disregarding more talented players at other positions. Like Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp, Washington corner Kevin King, Alabama tackle Cam Robinson, Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker and Washington safety Budda Baker.
"We’re five picks away, so we have got to have five players that we would take," Snead said of stacking his draft board for Day 2. "And then, from there, you decide whether you go up and get one of the five, or you take one, or you move back from there and grab another pick."
The Rams were surprised no cornerback was taken within the first 10 picks and only two offensive linemen went within the top 32. They noted the bevy of trades, particularly from the division-rival 49ers and Seahawks, who moved back to acquire additional picks. The 49ers picked up Stanford defensive tackle Solomon Thomas and Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster, while the Cardinals added Temple inside linebacker Haason Reddick.
The Rams, without a first-round pick for the first time since 1987, had no intentions of trading into the first round.
"We knew this was the year probably not to give up picks to go get a player late," Snead said. "We had done a lot of work on who we felt would fall, and we were very comfortable with those players. So we felt that it might be the best strategy to stay put this year.”
The Rams have a lot of ways they can go in this draft. They're thin at receiver and tight end, but would also like to identify their center and left tackle of the future. They need to replenish depth in their secondary, but also need to beef up at linebacker.
The player they want is "still there," Snead assured.
"Players," McVay said, chiming in. "He’s got a lot of guys."