Los Angeles Rams April Scouting Report
The 2019 Draft is almost here and unlike last year, the Rams have been very quiet and have made only a small handful of moves this off-season. For the time in three years (or HC Sean McVay’s tenure) Los Angeles will have a first round pick, albeit near the end of the first round. So far this off-season, the Rams have added FS Eric Weddle and LB Clay Mathews while resigning LB Dante Fowler. Los Angeles lost OG Roger Saffold and FS Lamarcus Joyner in free-agency and declined the option for OC John Sullivan. Free agent DL Ndamukung Suh has not signed with anyone yet but it is highly unlikely that he returns to the Rams. The Rams have a total of seven picks including two compensatory picks heading into the draft and the only pressing needs are to replace the missing starters on the offensive and defensive lines. Los Angeles also needs to look at depth at defensive back, since starters Talib and Peters are only signed through 2019. Most of the Rams pre-draft visits have been with players at the three positions noted (offensive and defensive lines and defensive backs). This pre-draft report will look at the Ram’s picks and whom they might select with those picks. The number in parenthesis is the overall pick number. My picks are players I would like to see the Rams select if they are available when they pick and not necessarily who I think they will pick.
ROUND 1, PICK 31 (31): At the end of the first round, Los Angeles could have many options to fill a need, provide needed depth, or take a chance on an impact player with a high ceiling. OL Garrett Bradbury (North Carolina State) is the top ranked center who can also play guard. DT Christian Wilkins (Clemson) and DT Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame) are two defenders who could start in place of Suh. DT Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State) has top ten talent but tore his ACL in February training for the Combine. LB Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech), SS Taylor Rapp (Washington), and SS Jonathan Abram (Mississippi State) have first round potential and all three have had pre-draft visits with the Rams. The Ram’s confidence in their second year offensive linemen (Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen, and Jamil Demby) will have an impact on which way they go in the first round. My pick: DT Jeffery Simmons was a beast for Mississippi State and once healthy would be a great fit next to DL Aaron Donald. The Rams are in "win now" mold but Simmons has the talent worth waiting for. If he is there when the Rams are on the clock, I would love for them to select Simmons.
ROUND 3, PICK 31 (94): Picking late in the third round, the Rams need to find a player who can help on special teams while providing depth on offense or defense and develop into a starter. Last year, the Rams took Noteboom as the heir apprentice at left tackle and they are encouraged by his development. Most of the safeties that Los Angeles has brought in during the pre-draft process should be gone by the late third round; however, FS Deionte Thompson (Alabama) and FS Juan Thornhill (Virginia) along with CB Justin Layne (Michigan State) and CB David Long (Michigan) could still be available. My pick: CB Justin Layne would be a great pick (if available) as he has the size and skill set to immediately help special teams while providing depth at cornerback. He also has the potential to step in as a starter in 2020 if Talib and/or Peters depart.
ROUND 3, PICK 36 (99): The Rams get another pick in the Third Round and what position/player they select here obviously depends on the previous two picks. Since I have Los Angeles taking Simmons and Layne with their first two picks, I would then have the Rams taking either an offensive linemen or linebacker/edge rusher. OL Nate Davis (North Carolina-Charlotte), OL Lamont Gaillard (Georgia), and LB David Long (West Virginia) fit the bill for what the Rams are looking for. CB David Long is also a possibility if a cornerback has not been taken yet. My pick: LB David Long is built in the Mark Barron mold, a little undersized, but fast and tough. He could help immediately on special teams and provide depth for the defense.
ROUND 4, PICK 31 (133): Los Angeles should continue to draft players with high ceilings who can compete for playing time as rookies but more importantly have potential to be future stars. Last year the Rams took DE John Franklin-Meyers, LB Micah Kiser, and LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo in rounds 4 and 5 and all three are expected to play important roles in 2019. I am hoping Gaillard is still available as he can play guard and center and would be a nice pick at the end of the fourth round. My pick: OL Lamont Gaillard has the potential to develop into a future starter while providing insurance at the guard and center positions.
ROUND 5, PICK 31 (169): The Rams still need help on the defensive line since Simmons won’t be ready to start the 2019 season so with this pick I have them taking a defensive lineman who could help ease the loss of Suh. My pick: DT Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois) dominated his small school competition and could develop into a dependable player next to Aaron Donald.
ROUND 6, PICK 31 (203): The Rams signed SS Eric Weddle to a two-year contract; however, they still need to groom someone for the future to team with star FS John Johnson, who played a big role in his second season. The Rams could look for their safety of the future with this pick. My pick: DB Sheldrick Redwine (Miami) has the talent to be picked higher but could be available this late due to a deep safety class. He has good physical skills and the Rams brought him in for a pre-draft visit.
ROUND 7, PICK 37 (251): With the final pick of the 2019 Draft I have the Rams taking a wide receiver. Many draft pundits have Los Angeles taking a running back due to the late season injury issue with RB Todd Gurley; however, the Rams resigned RB Malcom Brown and they also have 2018 draft pick RB John Kelly and third year RB Justin Davis so they do not need another running back. On the other hand, they could use a slot receiver as WR Cooper Kupp returns from his knee injury. My pick: WR John Ursua (University of Hawaii) is a highly productive receiver who was not invited to the Combine but had a good pro-day and could play at the NFL level. Plus he is from Hawaii!
Here is a recap of my wishful picks for the Rams.
Round 1: DT Jeffrey Simmons (Mississippi State)
Round 3: CB Justin Layne (Michigan State)
Round 3: LB David Long (West Virginia)
Round 4: OL Lamont Gaillard (Georgia)
Round 5: DT Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois)
Round 6: DB Sheldrick Redwine (Miami)
Round 7: WR John Ursua (University of Hawaii)
If they get the first two picks, the rest will be gravy for me. Last year the Rams selected two players from my wishful picks list (LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and OL Jamil Demby) and both were selected two rounds later than I predicted. Even though neither contributed as rookies, they might get the opportunity this season. NFL Football is now a year-round sport and the Draft is the second big step (after free agency) to the start of the upcoming season. Next month we will review the Rams Draft and talk about the fantasy impact. Happy Birthday to the Skyler, keep working hard in Dental School! Love and blessings to my family. Miss you Pops! Aloha!
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