The Los Angeles Rams have done well to retain many of their free agents through the early stages of free agency. They did, however, lose a few key pieces along the way. And there may be more to come.
That said, with just over a month remaining until the 2016 NFL Draft, the team must turn some of their focus towards late April. Until then, any moves the team makes in free agency, or any players lost to it, will [re]shape their approach.
But for now, here’s a four round mock draft that might help shore up a few areas of need for the Rams:
1.15 Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
With the draft’s best interior pass-rusher sitting there at 15, Jeff Fisher won’t be able to resist taking a defensive tackle in the first round. Michael Brockers is in the fifth, and final, year of his rookie deal, and will most likely look to test free agency in 2017. It remains to be seen whether the Rams can re-sign Nick Fairley for the 2016 season, as he’s getting interest from several teams in free agency. Partner Rankins with Aaron Donald and enjoy the show.
2.12 Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Despite locking up Brian Quick on a one-year deal, the Rams are still in need of a quality wide receiver. Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin are viable options in the offense, but outside of that they’ve only got Bradley Marquez and, potentially, Stedman Bailey. Either way, the Rams must address this position early in the draft. Doctson has shown the ability to win against opposing defensive backs with the ball in the air; something the Rams very much need in their offense.
2.14 Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
Despite what some may think, the Rams are in need of a running back. Sure, Todd Gurley will be the team’s feature back, but depth at the position is in question. The team placed a low tender on restricted free agent Benny Cunningham, but the team has yet to lock him up, and he’s made visits to both New England and Tennessee. The recent arrest of backup running back Tre Mason will most certainly result in games missed in 2016. While not the fastest RB, Dixon is very light on his feet, shows elusiveness, and is a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield.
3.13 Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
It’s the most important position in the sport, and the Rams have one of the most questionable trio’s of quarterbacks in the NFL. Case Keenum, Nick Foles, and Sean Mannion are not the answer, and therefore the Rams - who’ve avoided the position in free agency - must look to the draft for an answer. Hackenberg has prototypical size for a pocket passer in the NFL and showed toughness at Penn State. While many will point to accuracy issues, some onus should be placed on poor offensive line play. Hackenberg was sacked 44 times in his sophomore season, and 103 times in three seasons. 31 teams were at Penn State’s Pro Day on Thursday, where Hackenberg impressed. It’s fair to assume the Rams took notice.
4.12 Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky
The Rams made the wise offseason move to release Jared Cook, but are now in need of his replacement. The team has been quiet in free agency regarding the position, save for them narrowly missing out on signing Jaguars’ TE Marcedes Lewis, and an unfruitful visit with Bears’ TE Zach Miller. As a former WR, Higbee could easily help fill a void for the Rams who need a big-bodied, pass catching tight end.