The newly relocated Los Angeles Rams made their first major talent acquisition last spring: quarterback Jared Goff. The Cal product came at a hefty price, though. The Rams traded a boatload of picks from the 2016 and 2017 draft in order trade up for the first pick in the 2016 draft, allowing them to grab Goff before anybody else could. With limited resources for the 2017 draft because of the Goff trade, the Rams have to make the most of their picks.
The screenshot above is from a TST article earlier this year that explained which picks the Rams still have. I figured grabbing this screenshot was easier than explaining things again.
Obviously, the lack of a first round pick is perfect for the Rams. Without a first round pick, there’s no way they can draft a Greg Robinson or a Jason Smith! It’s the most conservative approach to drafting and that suits Jeff Fisher’s MO. addition to the absence of a first round pick, though, the Rams may not have a third round pick, and if they do, they would lose the compensatory pick that they could have had in addition to their normal 3rd round pick.
The Rams will have their second round pick, which almost certainly ends up being a top 50 pick, and then their normal slew of Day 3 picks, possibly including a Titans 7th rounder. Without a first round pick, that second round pick has to hit, and hopefully a couple of the late-round guys can contribute early, too.
But who should the Rams draft? When and why should they draft said player? Do the Rams need to go wide receiver, linebacker or offensive line with their second round pick?
Over the next five months, those are the questions I will set out to answer.
Overview of the 2017 Draft Class
Every draft class has it’s strengths and weaknesses. The 2014 class, for example, was loaded with wide receiver talent, so much so that it may be the best wide receiver class we have ever seen. The year prior was loaded with defensive line studs, including Ezekiel Ansah (Lions, 5th overall), Sharrif Floyd (Vikings, 23rd overall), Sheldon Richardson (Jets, 13th overall) and more.
2017 is the year of the running back. Though, considering the Rams just spent a top ten pick on a running back in 2015 and the team’s issues on the ground are more related to the offensive line, I’m not going to spend much time focusing on the running backs, aside from a few late round options.
There are a few other loaded positions outside of running back, thankfully. The wide receivers, tight ends, cornerbacks and linebackers are all shaping up to be good groups. This year’s crop of safeties look fine, with one likely stud in Malik Hooker of Ohio State (assuming he declares). Unfortunately for the Rams, this year’s offensive line positions have not received too much hype, at the moment. There are a few studs at the top, like Ohio State’s Pat Elflein (guard/center) and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk (tackle), but this may not be the year to find immediate upgrades.
What Do the Rams Need the Most?
If the Rams want to start moving on from Alec Ogletree and normalize their linebacking corps, this is the year to do it. The class is stacked and the Rams desperately need a linebacker who can play downhill with some heft. The front office should seriously consider taking a linebacker with the second round pick.
If not linebacker, offensive line (even despite this possibly not being a great OL class) or wide receiver has to be the move. Kenny Britt has stepped up in a big way this season, and the Rams have gotten surprise production from Brian Quick, but the Rams do not have a wide receiver who can consistently make defenses fear their presence. Since Britt can be a solid “X” receiver, the Rams should look to take speed, and this class appears to have plenty of that to spare.
The later rounds have a lot more freedom. Day 3 players should have a bit more of a focus on their special teams ability, though the goal should be to add quality depth. If the Rams do not go linebacker early, they need to swing for one on Day 3 this year, like they did last year.
The Rams should try to take a chance on a secondary player, as well. Be it a cornerback to possibly replace E.J. Gaines or a safety/nickel player to fill in as a fifth or sixth defensive back, there has to be a new face in the secondary to add some competition to the group.
If there are any specific players or positions that you would like to be emphasized over the next five months, let me know either in the comments below this article and future NFL Draft related articles, or on Twitter (@QBKlass).
Happy almost Draft Season, everyone!