The NFL Draft is coming! Free agency is basically over with the exception of several veterans still on the market so the Rams are focusing their attention on the upcoming Draft, which is April 27-29 in Philadelphia. With eight total picks, the Rams are fortunate this is a deep draft as they can find potential starters even though they don’t have a first round pick (giving it to Tennessee as part of the Jared Goff trade). The Rams also started their off season program this week so HC Sean McVay and his staff have been very busy. What is interesting, or in my opinion disappointing, is that the Rams recently fired director of pro personnel Ran Carthon along with three areas scouts. This is a strange move with the draft less than a month away. This pre-draft report will take a look at the Ram’s pick and whom they might select in the respective rounds. The number in parenthesis is the overall pick number. My picks are the players I would like to see the Rams select who could be available when they pick
ROUND 2, PICK 5 (37): The Rams improved their roster with their free agency signings; however, they still need playmakers on both sides of the ball. With the 37th pick, a few wide receivers, tight ends, or defensive backs should be available that could challenge for a starting position. The Rams could also look to improve their offensive line but I think they try to work with what they have on the current roster, especially since they signed two new starters in OT Andrew Whitworth and OL John Sullivan and drafted four offensive linemen just two years ago. WR Zay Jones (East Carolina), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC), TE Evan Engram (Ole Miss), FS Budda Baker (Washington), FS Justin Evans (Texas A&M), and FS Josh Jones (N.C. State) are possible selections that would make immediate impacts. LB Jarrad Davis (Florida) is a stud that would definitely help the defense but he could go in the first round. My pick: WR Zay Jones, this guy set a record with 399 career receptions and could develop into the number one receiver the Rams need.
ROUND 3, PICK 5 (69): Who the Rams select in round two will definitely impact who they take in the following rounds. If Los Angeles takes a receiver with their first pick then tight end and defense becomes the focus in the next round but if they take a defensive back in round two then a plethora of receivers come into play in round three. If Jones in the round two pick, DB Desmond King (Iowa), FS Marcus Maye (Florida), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson), or any of the safeties available from the round two section above would be nice additions to the defense. If the Rams go with a defensive back in round two, WR Chris Godwin (Penn State), WR Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington), Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma) and Amara Darboh (Michigan) are potential offensive players the Rams could take in round three. A wildcard pick would be DE Tim Williams (Alabama). Williams is a good pass rusher and looks like a guy who could thrive as a stand-up end in DC Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. He has second round talent but comes with character concerns so he could easily slip down to the third round. My pick: It’s a toss-up between Maye and King. Maye is a warrior and true safety that could bolster the defense but he might be long gone when the Rams are on the clock in the third round. King won the Jim Thorpe award in 2015 as the nation’s top defensive back. King may lack elite physical tools and skills to star at corner in the NFL but his dedication and toughness make him a solid football player who could help the Rams at safety or corner similar to DB Lamarcus Joyner.
ROUND 4, PICK 5 (112): Since I gave the Rams a new receiver and defensive back with their first two picks, this pick could go to the best player available. A cornerback, linebacker, or defensive lineman to provide depth would be a welcome addition. If the Rams wanted to take an offensive lineman to compete with the incumbents, that would be fine too. LB Anthony Walker (Northwestern), CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado), OL Ethan Pocic (LSU), DE Derek Rivers (Youngstown St.), TE Jake Butt (Michigan), and CB Sidney Jones (Washington) are possible candidates. Butt and Jones are coming off serious injuries and would have been picked sooner than the fourth if healthy so they could be value picks if/when they return to 100%. My pick: LB Anthony Walker is a solid football player with good character, two traits McVay is looking for, and he is a potential future starter who would provide immediate depth while helping special teams.
ROUND 4, PICK 35 (141): This is a compensatory pick I believe from losing Janoris Jenkins in free agency and with this pick, the Rams need to address any position not addressed above. My pick: I would love to see OL Ethan Pocic (LSU) still available for the Rams with this pick. Pocic has versatility as an interior lineman and could be groomed to take over as the starting center in a few years. If TE Jake Butt somehow falls this far with his injury, that would be a great pick and steal for the Rams.
ROUND 5, PICK 5 (149): When you get to rounds five and later, you want to take players who can help on special teams while providing depth or someone who has the potential to develop into a starter. With the picks I have already given the Rams, I am looking at a defensive lineman or tight end. DT Jarron Jones (Notre Dame), DT Nazair Jones (North Carolina), and DL Deatrich Wise (Arkansas) are a few D-linemen who have potential to help the Rams while TE Michael Roberts (Toledo) and TE Jeremy Sprinkle (Arkansas) are two possibilities. A wild card pick if he is available would be WR Malachi Dupree (LSU) who has good size and improved his 40-time (4.52 to 4.46) at his pro day. LSU receivers tend to be better pro players than college players and if the Rams don’t pick a receiver early, they should consider some with upside like Dupre later in the draft. My pick: DL Deatrich Wise could provide depth as the Rams transition to the 3-4.
ROUND 6, PICK 5 (189): Now we are swinging for the fences for players that have a particular skill that could enable them to contribute in some way. The Rams have RB Todd Gurley as the starting running back and signed RB Lance Dunbar as a change of pace back; however, behind these two are the seldom used RB Malcom Brown and unproven RB Aaron Green. Los Angeles could take a running back like RB James Conner (Pittsburgh) and good all-around player who could challenge Brown to be Gurley’s handcuff or RB T.J. Logan (North Carolina) a blazer who was the fastest running back at the NFL Combine running a 4.37 forty. My pick: RB T.J. Logan is an exciting player who can return kicks and provide change of pace duties should Dunbar fail to impress.
ROUND 6, PICK 22 (206): This pick comes from the Dolphins in the William Hayes trade. Coming to the end of the draft, I want to Rams to tap unrealized potential. I haven’t given Los Angeles an edge rusher to develop so with this pick I am looking at the following outside linebackers with potential to learn from and eventually take over for veteran LB Connor Barwin. LB Josh Carraway (TCU), LB Jimmy Gilbert (Colorado), LB Samson Ebukam (Eastern Washington), LB Javancy Jones (Jackson State) are a few edge rushers with potential to mature into productive players for the Rams. My pick: LB Samson Ebukam is an exceptional athlete with improving football skills. I think he could become a solid contributor and a steal in the draft for the Rams.
ROUND 7, PICK 16 (234): This pick comes from the Ravens. The Rams need a tight end to backup TE Tyler Higbee and challenge TE Tamarrick Hemingway for his roster spot. TE Branden Barnes (Alabama State), TE Darrell Daniels (Washington), and TE Phazahn Odom (Fordham) are possible late round tight ends with potential. My pick: I will take TE Phazahn Odom because he is huge (6’-8") and I like his name.
So here is a recap of my wishful picks for the Rams.
Round 2: WR Zay Jones (East Carolina)
Round 3: DB Desmond King (Iowa)
Round 4: LB Anthony Walker (Northwestern)
Round 4: OL Ethan Pocic (LSU)
Round 5: DL Deatrich Wise (Arkansas)
Round 6: RB T.J. Logan (North Carolina)
Round 6: LB Samson Ebukam (Eastern Washington)
Round 7: TE Phazahn Odom (Fordham)
I would be pleasantly surprised if I get any of my predictions correct but that is why it is my wish list and not a "mock draft". See you next month as we review the Draft for the Rams and its fantasy impact. Happy 21st Birthday to the Skyman. The tables are waiting for you buddy! Love and blessings to my family. Miss you Pops! Aloha!