On Saturday, some of the better prospects from the 2017 NFL Draft will be on display at the 2017 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. With the practices this week and a flurry of draft analysis leading up to it, there will be plenty of names popping up for fans of the Los Angeles Rams to begin tracking as we count down the days toward the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
Today, Rotoworld’s Josh Norris dropped his top 25 prospects in action in Mobile this week. A couple names jump off to me of interest for the Rams as well as a position-by-position look:
Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor (#4 on Norris’ board)
Taylor had an absolute monster season just one year after WKU lost QB Brandon Doughty and TE Tyler Higbee to the 2016 NFL Draft. WKU nearly had a historic season with a one-point loss to Vanderbilt and a three-point loss to Louisiana Tech. The only other L in their 11-3 year? Alabama, who was pretty good. Taylor was the centerpiece of the offense along with QB Mike White. With HC Jeff Brohm taking over at Purdue, things may be changing for WKU. As for Taylor, he’s got good size with plus athleticism. Practices like these aren’t great to gauge wide receiver skills, but he could shine this week in the format. He’s got a shot at Day 2 consideration.
LSU CB Tre’Davious White (#6)
White has a ton of tools for a corner. Coming out of LSU that has produced some of the NFL’s best, he’s someone to eye if he drops into the 2nd. If Janoris Jenkins fell to the Rams in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft...
Indiana G Dan Feeney (#7)
Kutztown OL Jordan Morgan (#13)
LSU C Ethan Pocic (#19)
Younger brother of former Ram Graham Pocic. Versatile as they come with experience at all five positions. Going to be very hard for Rams fans not to get interested in upgrading the center position.
UCLA OT Conor McDermott (#25)
Speaking of Mr. Bate’s fine work, McDermott landed for BB in the fourth round:
McDermott, who stands 6’8” tall, was named Mr. Basketball for the state of Tennessee in 2011. Perhaps some of the skills he learned in boxing out opponents on the court have translated to the football field, as he’s proven to be a very quality pass protector in his time at UCLA.
One thing that will be interesting to see is how the Rams transition their scouting base from Missouri to Southern California. On this year’s roster, the Rams had players from Missouri, Missouri St., Missouri Western, Missouri Western St., NW Missouri St. and SE Missouri St (no, seriously — that’s not a joke). This is largely attributable to the fact that the franchise had labor in the St. Louis area it could send to local games with much more ease than to the coasts to see other talents. Now, they’ll be based out of the LA market with greater access to the Pacific coast, though diminished scouting quantities in the Midwest and much less out East.
And a little position-by-position rundown stuff:
The Rams aren’t likely to be too active here with franchise QB Jared Goff locked in and QB Sean Mannion heading into year three.
That being said, this year just doesn’t match up to last year’s Senior Bowl QB crop of starting-caliber options led by Carson Wentz who ultimately went #2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Plenty of potential backup candidates in attendance this year though.
Much like the QB position with Goff at QB1, the Rams’ RB1 spot is Todd Gurley’s for 2017. Perhaps new Head Coach Sean McVay would opt for a rookie to help spell Gurley with more impact than the Rams’ current depth chart options.
Wisconsin RB Corey Clement, Toledo RB Kareem Hunt and BYU RB Jamaal Williams look intriguing. And San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey’s record as the all-time leader in rushing yards in NCAA Division I FBS history is going to sell to a lot of fans.
The Rams have big needs at big value positions. Could they possibly spend on tight end this draft? Unless TE Lance Kendricks is a roster cut, he leads a three-man unit with TE Tyler Higbee and TE Temarrick Hemingway having just closed their rookie seasons as 2016 NFL Draft selections.
If so, you’ve got some of the best talent at the position in the upcoming draft on display with Alabama TE O.J. Howard, Ole Miss TE Evan Engram and South Alabama TE Gerald Everett in action...and all on the South’s roster.
Rams fans will want to pay attention to the position this week. As I mentioned, the format isn’t conducive to great on-field scouting, but it’s a crucial week for interaction between team staffs and the prospects in attendance.
Eastern Michigan WR Cooper Kupp is going to have a fan base. East Carolina WR Zay Jones is someone who has probably flown under the radar for most but is going to have a big come up over the next two months. Because draft season does race-related dumb things every year, Louisiana Tech WR Trent Taylor is going to get compared to every undersized, white wideout in the NFL instead of just comparing him to all undersized slot guys. Is he Cole Beasley? Danny Amendola? Julian Edelman? SO MANY OPTIONS, BUT JUST DO NOT INCLUDE ANYONE ELSE (feel free to mention North Carolina WR Ryan Switzer now for maximum effect). I mentioned Taywan Taylor above, but LSU WR Travin Dural could be receiving the same superlatives in February and March.
Second-year RT Rob Havenstein perhaps made things confusing with an unimpressive sophomore year, but LT Greg Robinson might have made his native position the Rams’ top overall roster need at the moment.
Pitt OT Adam Bisnowaty, Western Michigan OT Taylor Moton, Troy OT Antonio Garcia and the aformentioned UCLA OT Conor McDermott could all factor for the Rams on Day 2.
Guard has to be in play for 2017. Rodger Saffold isn’t the problem, but the Rams have yet to find an acceptable second. And with Saffold’s injury history and age, any 2017 addition may need a successive one a year from now.
Indiana G Dan Feeney. Michigan G Kyle Kalis. USC OG Zach Banner. San Diego State OG Nico Siragusa. Western Kentucky G Forrest Lamp. This is the best position group at the Senior Bowl. There’s a chance you could see the first half dozen guards taken in the 2017 NFL Draft in Mobile this week.
Tim Barnes is under contract for 2017, but that shouldn’t prevent the Rams from doing due diligence on the position now instead of waiting for his contract to expire.
Most of the top centers are in attendance including Pocic as discussed above along with West Virginia C Tyler Orlosky (Bate’s third-round mock pick), Baylor C Kyle Fuller and Kentucky C Jon Toth.
With new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips set to mold the Rams’ defense after being handed the reins from former DC Gregg Williams, it’s tough to know what positions @sonofbum is going to ask to upgrade in Years 1 and 2 under McVay.
If defensive end is one of those positions, the Rams won’t see the top tier of the class in Mobile. I am interested in seeing freak athlete DE Tanoh Kpassagnon who is coming out of Villanova in the FCS.
The Rams have DTs Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers under contract. Not now.
Much like DE, the DT crop this week is missing much of the top. Good opportunity for some mid-tier guys to shine, but not sure it’s of a bunch of impact for the Rams. Maybe a Day 3 flier on a groomable athlete like Tulane DT Tanzel Smart?
This could be the Rams’ biggest hole on the defensive side with options to draft either from the inside or outside.
Alabama OLB Ryan Anderson has to be on the Rams’ radar. Wisconsin OLB Vince Biegel isn’t as athletic, but could be a good technical add.
This one’s really hard to gauge, but if CB Trumaine Johnson exits via free agency it becomes an automatic top need.
I mentioned LSU CB Tre’Davious White above. Rams fans also will want to keep an eye out for Tennessee CB Cameron Sutton, Florida St. CB Marquez White, Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis and West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas. And I’m not a fan of Miami CB Corn Elder’s game, but he’s got #1 overall name potential.
Will Wade want the same kind of play from his safeties Former Head Coach Jeff Fisher and his DC Williams did? If not, this could be a Wade-specific position of focus sooner rather than later less so for contract or quality reasons but more for scheme fit.
Texas A&M S Justin Evans could be a big Day 2 riser. Miami S Rayshawn Jenkins is another pass defender who would fit a scheme change.