FanPost

First Round Prospects and How They Fit: Defensive Edition

You can find the offensive edition here.

Mock drafting for the Ram's is increasingly difficult this year, due to the fact that we don't have a top-5 pick (Hallelujah!). Therefore, at this point of the process, (while fun) is very ineffective. However, what I'm striving to do here today is the same thing that all 32 NFL teams are trying to do: Create a big board in which the talent available fills specific needs. In this post, I'll be reviewing potential first and borderline first round prospects on the defensive side of the ball, and give my take on how they fit with the Rams' schematics.

I'll start with the Rams' biggest needs, but will also throw in some other positions in which there isn't necessarily a need, but adding the players specified would add a new element to our defense.

Also note: I'm not limiting this to prospects who will likely be available at 16 and 22, leaving the possibility for trades and such.

Safety

Kenny Vaccarro, Texas - When you combine the Rams need at safety with the talent available, Vaccarro is the first man that comes to mind. He offers both the ability to cover both slot receivers and tight ends, and the ability to tackle running backs and the increasingly popular running QBs (of which the NFC West currently has two). He isn't the flashiest safety prospect, but is absolutely solid and fits well with our scheme. Priority: 3

Matt Elam, Florida - Elam is an absolutely violent hitter and splash-playmaker. He doesn't quite have the size of Vaccarro, nor the coverage ability, but will be a "sexier" option for some teams. He actually compares, favorably, to Mikell in my opinion... who could be cut due to a large cap hit. Elam is very aggressive, which will sometimes cost him, but he'll likely more than make up for it through the positive plays he makes. He fits our team's defensive image, and will likely be fairly high on our board. Priority: 7

Eric Reid, LSU - When it comes to upside, Reid's is likely higher than any other safety in this year's class. He has great athleticism and size, and has flashed at times. However, he wasn't nearly as dominant this year, and some are wondering if his past success was due to the other stars around him. Only time will tell, but he would still be a great option. Priority: 11

Phillip Thomas, Fresno St - While he currently isn't projected higher than mid to late second round by most, Thomas is a guy whose stock will likely continue to rise. Coming from a fairly small FBS school, some teams may hesitate to take him based on who he played against. However, the Rams took Brian Quick at the beginning of the 2nd last year, and Thomas could be a guy that Rams' brass falls in love with. He is the coverage-type safety that the Rams really need, and his ball skills are wonderful. Priority: 16

Linebacker

Jarvis Jones, Georgia - Jarvis Jones is a player with bigtime question marks surrounding him. While he has the talent to potentially be a top 5 pick, there is also fear of his medical condition. As far as needs go, Jones would be excellent for the Rams. He could easily be our 3rd linebacker, and on passing downs, could put his hand in the dirt. Priority: 1

Manti Teo, Notre Dame - Teo is an enigma. He also isn't a very great fit for our defense, considering that we signed JL55 to a long-term deal. I very seriously doubt that we even consider him.

Alec Ogletree, Georgia - Olgetree has become a popular name around TST as of late, and what's not to love? He's a great playmaker, and could potentially transition to an OLB spot in the NFL. However, with the predominance of the nickel defense in today's NFL, I don't think it likely that we consider an OLB this early in the draft (aside from Jones, who also provides value as a pass rusher). This opinion likely won't be too popular. Priority: 15

Defensive Tackle

Star Lotulelei, Utah - While DT isn't really a need on our defense, elite prospects supersede need. Lotulelei is an elite prospect. He has a rare combination of strength and athleticism, and should be an absolute force in this league. While it's very unlikely that the Rams would trade up for him, and even more unlikely that he'll make it out of the top-10, he would be nearly impossible to pass up at this point if the Rams had the option of taking him. Priority: 2

Jonathan Hankins, Ohio St - Hankins is another good DT prospect, but I'm not quite sure that I'd put him in the "elite" category. He definitely wouldn't be the Rams' last choice, but I doubt he'll be very high on their board. Priority: 12

Sheldon Richardson, Mizzou - Sheldon Richardson would be a great fit for the Rams' DL. He has a fantastic motor, and is a great interior pass rusher. I have no doubt that Fisher would find it difficult to pass on this guy, because his fit with our current DL is just phenomenal. Lined up next to Quinn, Brockers, and Long, Richardson could be an absolute force. Priority: 4

Kawann Short, Purdue - Short is another prospect, similar to Richardson, who would fit well with our current DL. He's a good interior pass rusher, and would also work well next to Brockers. At this point, he doesn't appear to be quite the prospect that Richardson is, but I still wouldn't be too surprised if the Rams have him high on their big board. Priority: 8

Jonathan Jenkins, Georgia - Jenkins is a run stuffer, and likely a 3-4 NT. He doesn't seem to be a good fit for the Rams.

Defensive Ends

There are a boatload of DE prospects being projected in the first round. And while it isn't really a need, we should never really underestimate a coach's love for those who can get to the QB. So while I won't add descriptions about each, they will be found in the recap.

Recap

1. OLB, Jarvis Jones, Georgia

2. DT, Star Latulelei, Utah

3. S, Kenny Vaccarro, Texas

4. DT, Sheldon Richardson, Mizzou

5. DE, Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

6. DE, Bjoern Werner, Florida State

7. S, Matt Elam, Florida

8. DT, Kawann Short, Purdue

9. DE, Sam Montgomery, LSU

10. DE, Barkevious Mingo, LSU

11. S, Eric Reid, LSU

12. DT, Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State

13. DE, Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

14. DE, Alex Okafor, Texas

15. LB, Alec Ogletree, Georgia

16. S, Phillip Thomas, Fresno St

17. DE, Dion Jordan, Oregon

I hope you enjoyed reading, and as always, comments/criticisms are always appreciated.

UPDATE:

My Rams' Top-34 Big Board

1. OT, Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2. OT, Eric Fisher, CMU
3. OLB, Jarvis Jones, Georgia
4. DT, Star Latulelei, Utah
5. OG, Chance Warmack, Alabama
6. S, Kenny Vaccarro, Texas
7. DT, Sheldon Richardson, Mizzou
8. WR, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
9. WR, Keenan Allen, Cal
10. DE, Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
11. DE, Bjoern Werner, Florida State
12. WR, DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
13. TE, Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
14. OL, Barrett Jones, Alabama
15. S, Matt Elam, Florida
16. DT, Kawann Short, Purdue
17. WR, Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
18. OT, Lane Johnson, OU
19. DE, Sam Montgomery, LSU
20. DE, Barkevious Mingo, LSU
21. S, Eric Reid, LSU
22. OL, Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
23. TE, Zach Ertz, Stanford
24. WR, Terrance Williams, Baylor
25. WR, Justin Hunter, Tennessee
26. DT, Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State
27. DE, Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
28. DE, Alex Okafor, Texas
29. WR, Tavon Austin, West Virginia
30. OT, D.J. Fluker, Alabama
31. LB, Alec Ogletree, Georgia
32. S, Phillip Thomas, Fresno St
33. OL, Jonathan Cooper, UNC
34. DE, Dion Jordan, Oregon

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