June 21, 2024

The need was too great.

The Rams do not expect any one player to replace recently retired defensive lineman Aaron Donald — a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer — but with their first first-round draft pick since 2016, they showed Thursday night that improving the pass rush was their top priority.

The Rams selected Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse with the No. 19 pick, making him the first defensive lineman to be selected by the Rams in the first round since they took Donald with the 13th pick in the 2014 draft.

Verse played two seasons at Albany and two at Florida State, amassing 31½ sacks. He had nine sacks in each of his two seasons at Florida State, and last season had 12½ tackles for lost yardage.

Rams general manager Les Snead said before the draft that he was pondering staying put at No. 19, or perhaps trading up for a prospect, or back for more picks.

Snead, coach Sean McVay, assistant coaches and scouts gathered at the Rams draft house in Hermosa Beach, and watched 14 offensive players come off the board before the Indianapolis Colts took UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu.

The Seattle Seahawks took Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II and the Minnesota Vikings traded up to select Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner.

When the Cincinnati Bengals selected offensive tackle Amarius Mims, that opened the door for the Rams to make their first pick in the first round since Snead traded up a record 14 spots to take quarterback Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016.

New defensive coordinator Chris Shula can now construct a front that blends Verse with second-year pros Kobie Turner and edge rusher Byron Young.

The Rams have 10 picks remaining in the draft, which continues Friday with the second and third rounds and concludes Saturday with the final four rounds.

Jared Verse — Edge

6 feet 4, 254 pounds, Florida State, Round 1, Pick 19

Notable: Verse played two seasons at Albany before transferring. He amassed 31½ sacks during his career, including 18 at Florida State. In 2023 he had at least two sacks in four games, including 2½ against Florida.

Last season: Verse had nine sacks and 1½ tackles for losses in 13 games for the Seminoles. He was an AFCA All-American.

Why the Rams drafted him: Future Hall of Fame defensive lineman Aaron Donald’s retirement left a gaping hole in a pass rush that already was in need of reinforcements. Tackle Kobie Turner and edge rusher Byron Young showed promise last season as rookies but, for the Rams to compete for a Super Bowl title, new defensive coordinator Chris Shula needs more players who can consistently pressure quarterbacks.

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