NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has dropped his top five at every position for the 2017 NFL Draft today. Here’s how things might look for the Rams at each:
- DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
- Deshaun Watson, Clemson
- Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
- Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech
- Davis Webb, California
Nothing too wild here, though I’m sure the Webb pick will rankle some with a bunch of other options beyond the top four which seem to be building a consensus as the top tier.
Not sure how much there is for the Rams to invest in at QB in this draft. Franchise QB Jared Goff is locked in for 2017. Sean Mannion offers some kind of backup potential growth. the free agent wire for experienced sideline guys is always long (as Jeff Fisher’s carousel at the position depth chart showed the last five years). And the UDFA pool is what it is.
I’d be surprised if the Rams spend a draft pick on QB at all let alone anything near this caliber.
- Dalvin Cook, Florida State
- Leonard Fournette, LSU
- Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
- Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
- Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Much like the QB top tier foursome, the foursome leading the way at RB has built an early consensus as well. Mixon, for his on-field skills, has plenty of competition for that last spot. For his off-field incident in which he assaulted a woman in the summer of 2014, obviously there’s going to be reluctance on the part of many front offices and coaching staffs in crossing that bridge.
For the Rams, I think there’s definitely room on the running back depth chart for a smaller change-of-pace role to play off of Todd Gurley, a role that neither free agent Benny Cunningham nor Malcolm Brown nor Aaron Green can fill. None of the top five here really address that, but I could see a Day 3 option on a Gurley complement for speed. Something to keep in mind as we head toward the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in two weeks.
- Corey Davis, Western Michigan
- Mike Williams, Clemson
- John Ross, Washington
- Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
- Zay Jones, East Carolina
Here’s where the legitimate arguments begin. The Davis/Williams war will have different camps. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out on SBN sites for those WR-needy teams in the top 10 or so as they pick the prospect they prefer.
Beyond those two, take your pick...both in terms of a board and for your preference for the Rams in the second round, because there’s a good chance that your preferred prospect will be in play. I’d expect to see plenty of Kupp and Jones to the Rams in the mocks ahead as well as Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford, LSU WR Malachi Dupre and of course USC Juju Smith-Schuster.
- O.J. Howard, Alabama
- David Njoku, Miami
- Evan Engram, Ole Miss
- Jake Butt, Michigan
- Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Howard is the consensus top option, but beyond him there’s a sextet to deal with of the four Mayock tabbed along with Virginia Tech TE Bucky Hodges and Clemson TE Jordan Leggett. Role matters here as the reliance on blocking skills versus receiving skills vary greatly which will determine position boards for teams at tight end.
Rams TE Lance Kendricks is a potential roster cut victim, so we’ll have to see if that happens to determine the Rams’ status here. With Tyler Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway headed towards their second pro seasons, the Rams aren’t completely devoid of talent, though should Kendricks be shed the need here bumps up a notch.
- Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
- Garett Bolles, Utah
- Antonio Garcia, Troy
- Roderick Johnson, Florida State
- Taylor Moton, Western Michigan; Jermaine Eluemunor, Texas A&M
Yeah, so this is not a top-heavy offensive tackle class. I like the depth and value once you get toward the back of the second round, but the top 50 picks of the draft are littered with more intriguing prospects elsewhere.
What does that mean for the Rams with disappointing Greg Robinson “a big part” of new Head Coach Sean McVay’s early plans at left tackle with a physically limited Rob Havenstein at RT? GRob is headed into his final locked in contract year; the Rams would have to exercise a fifth-year option (or re-sign him) to ensure his presence beyond 2017. Not sure you can find a Rams fan to endorse that idea, though. Would it be wise to grab a tackle in this draft and groom him over the course of 2017 to take over as a full-time starter in 2018? Does Havenstein fit what McVay and Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur want at right tackle moving forward? This one might be one of the harder positions to gauge the comfort level inside the war room of prior to anything actually going to down during the draft.
- Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
- Cam Robinson, Alabama
- Dan Feeney, Indiana
- Ethan Pocic, LSU
- Dion Dawkins, Temple
Mayock’s ranking of Robinson at, presumably, guard instead of tackle certainly invites the question of where he deserves to be in the NFL. Cramming the guards and centers together for his board muddles things, obviously. Not sure you’d get much argument for that top four.
Clearly, the Rams could be in for anyone here. Free agency may change things completely at guard and center before we even get to Philadelphia. Expect to see some hometown love for USC linemen Zach Banner and Damien Mama.
- Jonathan Allen, Alabama
- Caleb Brantley, Florida
- Malik McDowell, Michigan State
- Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte
- Chris Wormley, Michigan
Yeah, the Rams have bigger issues with DTs Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers locked in.
- Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
- Tim Williams, Alabama
- Derek Barnett, Tennessee
- Solomon Thomas, Stanford
- Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
Is it time for the Rams to invest in premium young outside talent again?
DE Chris Long is a world champion with the New England Patriots. DE Robert Quinn is coming off a another injury-soiled campaign in which he posted a career low four sacks. William Hayes who just played his first season as a starter will be 32-years old in May. backup Eugene Sims hits 31 next month.
The problem of course that without a first-round pick, the Rams are going to miss out on most of the top edge rushers. There’s a very good chance that the top five, whoever they end up being, are all gone by the time the Rams are on the clock with the 37th overall pick.
- Reuben Foster, Alabama
- Haason Reddick, Temple
- Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
- Jarrad Davis, Florida
- Alex Anzalone, Florida
Not a ton of argument from me on the top five here as Mayock has separated “edge rushers” out which is completely different than a DE/DL/OLB/ILB classification.
There’s prudence in the Rams adding a linebacker this year, but it’ll be completely down the roster evaluation of new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. Depending on how @sonofbum wants to shape his front seven, it may require a role change for last year’s MLB Alec Ogletree. And who knows what it’ll mean for hybrid joker Mark Barron.
I’m 100% sure significant changes are coming to the Rams’ linebacker depth chart. I’m not 100% sure the “significant” changes start coming in 2017.
- Sidney Jones, Washington
- Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
- Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
- Teez Tabor, Florida
- Tre'Davious White, LSU
Cornerback buys are incredibly subjective. Whether that makes prospect rankings “harder” or “less valuable”, I’ll leave to individuals to decide on their own.
For the Rams, their need to work near this top five will depend almost entirely on what happens to CB Trumaine Johnson. He’s coming off of the franchise tag. Should the Rams re-sign Tru, it takes much of the weight off the position, though I wouldn’t be surprised at a Day 3 depth add. If Tru has to be tagged again, there’s enough risk to justify spending a Day 2 pick on cornerback. If he exits via free agency, you can make a case for it being the Rams’ top need.
Free agency opens on March 9...
- Malik Hooker, Ohio State
- Jamal Adams, LSU
- Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
- Budda Baker, Washington
- Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
I’m a fan of Peppers, but I get why he has detractors from his game. Much like linebacker, Wade’s eval at the position will be crucial to see if he feels he needs to make a change to what he’s going to require from his safeties versus what his predecessor, Gregg Williams, did.
And much like Trumaine Johnson’s status at cornerback, the prioritization here could depend entirely on whether or not the Rams re-sign S T.J. McDonald who is an unrestricted free agent.
The Rams’ starting duo in 2015 was McDonald and Rodney McLeod. If they are to start 2017 without having drafted a direct replacement for either, that’s one hell of a vulnerability to ask Phillips to cover up.
- Adoree Jackson, USC
- Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
- Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
- Desmond King, Iowa
- Adam Shaheen, Ashland
Mayock included these five because of “special value elsewhere”...but I’m not sure this is anywhere close to a top five special teams board. Whatever. Free content.
You could argue that without a first-round pick, the Rams are tied into much more discussion of a board that would feature guys ranked 6-10 at their position moreso than 1-5. I’ll try to follow up Mayock’s rankings today with a top five beyond his top five before we get into the combine, but for today, it’s a jumping off point to get us thinking about the position depth charts the Rams will begin addressing in about a month once the free agency gate kicks wide open.