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2016 NFL Mock Draft: How Free Agency Changed Draft Needs For The LA Rams

The first wave of free agency is behind us. Here's how it has affected the major mock drafts.

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Last week was a hurricane. With the franchise and transition tag deadline preceding the legal tampering window and then the initial flood of free agency, we didn't even get any mock draft coverage in.

Let's wade around the mock waters and get caught up to date., Bucky Brooks - March 2, Charles Davis - March 3, Lance Zierlein - March 4 was rolling out the mocks heading into free agency starting with Daniel Jeremiah's on March 1 which we covered.

Brooks was up next mocking the Rams to:

Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)

Cornerback could be a top priority for the Rams on draft day.

It's lazy mocking...but I'll take it!

Up next was Davis:

Jared Goff (QB, Cal)

In a bit of a surprise, this QB is still available. Of no surprise, the Rams race to the podium to select him to start their latest tenure in L.A.

I'm not entirely sure the Rams would be racing to the podium as much as some think. The Rams simply do not value the quarterback position the same way other teams around the league do. That's not to say that they won't pick Goff if he's available. I just think there's a reason why the 2015 St. Louis Rams were comfortable going into the season with Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion as their QB depth chart and why they're "sitting tight" in free agency this offseason.

Anywho, Zierlein capped off the trio:

Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)

Rarely has a player opted not to run at the combine and helped his stock as much Treadwell might have with his outstanding positional workout. Anything under 4.6 in the 40 at his pro day could lock him into the top 20.

It's tough to envision a Rams draft board that doesn't have Treadwell in the mix.

Note that Zierlein had Ohio St. running back Ezekiel Elliott going to the Philadelphia Eagles at #8 overall. I'm not saying it's unlikely, but it would be phenomenally stupid. Moreso than the Rams' Todd Gurley selection. Two seasons ago, Demarco Murray led the league in rushing. Last year, not so much. Will the NFL ever learn?

And check out LZ's mock after the Rams at 15. Some interesting names at the back end of the first, though I'm not sure how many would be on the Rams' board.

Mocking the Draft - March 7

MTD's Dan Kadar offered his weekly Monday mock last week ahead of free agency. Throughout mock season, Kadar has largely gone back and forth for the Rams between Memphis QB Paxton Lynch and Ole Miss Laquon Treadwell. In his two mocks prior to this one, Treadwell got the nod. But heading into free agency, Kadar had the Rams back on the QB front:

Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

Lynch may have the greatest upside of the three top quarterbacks in this year's draft. He certainly has them beat in size and natural athleticism. Beating Case Keenum out for the starting quarterback job shouldn’t be too challenging, even as a rookie.

I might take up a bit of pause at that last statement...see: Sean Mannion. That's not to say that Lynch isn't a superior prospect to Mannion. But if Sean couldn't get past Nick Foles and Case Keenum in 2015, I think there's reason to think that Lynch might not leapfrog all three on the depth chart by Week 1 of the 2016 NFL regular season.

Only other note from that mock for me is Kansas St. OL Cody Whitehair coming in at #23 to the Minnesota Vikings. He's been flying up boards as of late despite a clear cut opinion on what position he's going to play in the NFL.

CBS Sports, Will Brinson - March 7
CBS Sports, Jared Dubin - March 7

Brinson leads off with a smoker of a mock as the 49ers trade for the #1 overall pick to get Cal QB Jared Goff. Down at 15, he has the Rams going for:

Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

There is no way the Rams feel comfortable rolling with Case Keenum. New city, new quarterback.

Not sure I understand the logic here, but I like Will. I'll give him a pass.

Dubin's a newcomer to CBS since the Grantland fallout. His pick?

Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

The only person that really believes Case Keenum will be the Rams' quarterback of the future is Case Keenum.

Nobody ever said Case Keenum is the Rams' QB of the future...and I don't know Jared. Pass revoked!

CBS Sports, Dane Brugler - March 9

Brugler updated his mock just as free agency was opening up. He's got a conventional top 14 leading the Rams to:

Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

As the Rams move out west, they need a fresh face at quarterback who can be groomed as the starter. Lynch is very young in quarterback years, but all the skills are there for him to develop into a winner in the NFL.

The groupthink over at CBS behind the Rams and Lynch was strong last week!, Chad Reuter - March 11

Reuter updated his monster four-rounder at the end of last week. Plenty of mockery in here, obviously, starting with the Rams spending #15 on:

Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

The Rams can't get rid of Nick Foles due to his contract, so they can let Lynch learn the game and improve as a redshirt in 2016.

Reuter has the Rams turning to defense in round 2 with their two picks in:

Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
Kendall Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)

The Smith pick is a haaaaaaaaaard one to mock. He's a first-round talent whose knee was horribly injured in Notre Dame's bowl game. The concern is that he may need a redshirt rookie NFL season to let that knee heal. Fuller's a fine cornerback prospect, though I'm not sure that's a position the Rams need to address early in this draft...but hey. That hasn't stopped them before!

In round three, they turn back to offense in:

Devon Cajuste (WR, Stanford)

Sure, why not. Tough to get worked up about third round and beyond. If you look at Reuter's mock, there's TONS of value picks here. Cajuste is fine, but there are so many names I would probably enjoy more. It's the third round though. If you can hit on a guy regardless of position, it's a win.

Finishing off his four-rounder for the Rams, Reuter has them going with:

Jeremy Cash (SS, Duke)

He's got Rams safety written all over him. Cash played his first season with Ohio State before transferring to Duke. I could definitely see this pick.

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco - March 13

Prisco's far too salty to get thrown into any conventional wisdom. He stakes out new mock ground for the Rams in:

Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)

They have to get a threat down the field in the passing game, no matter who starts at quarterback. This is the best receiver in the draft.

Credit Prisco for sticking to his board. Might be tough for Rams fans to accept this one given all the mock hype that's built up in the last three months that obscured Doctson.

CBS Sports, Rob Rang - March 14

Rang gets us back on familiar ground with the Rams selecting:

Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)

With rookie Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley and the playmaking Tavon Austin on offense and the NFL's most ferocious defensive line, the Rams are only an improving passing game away from competing in the NFC West. Treadwell may lack the elite speed to warrant a top 10 pick, but he possesses the size, aggression and toughness to compete against the star cornerbacks of this division.

That's, uh, nice praise. I have no qualms with the Quon pick though, so let's keep it moving. This is an interesting mock though. Plenty of offense in the first round. Lynch at 31 to the Broncos...yeah, it's worth your time.

Mocking the Draft - March 14

Closing things out is Kadar's update from this AM. He too has Zeke going to Philly at 8. It at least creates some space for the Rams who end up with:

Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

If Jeff Fisher wants to stick with Case Keenum, a year of Lynch developing will be good for whatever coach gets the Rams job in 2017.

We can dream. Until then, the current state of affairs involves the Rams seeking an extension with Head Coach Jeff Fisher. That's perhaps a similar set of circumstances that could propel the Rams to take a QB and sit him in 2016 as Fisher would feel no pressure to turn things around in year one in Los Angeles.

That's a ton of mockery coming out of the first wave of free agency. Not a ton of change, but the Rams only lost two players in Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Could some second wave signings affect things in the coming weeks as we near the 2016 NFL Draft?