It’s been nearly a month since dropping my first Los Angeles Rams’ 4-round mock draft, and today feels as good as any to give it another go.
Not much has changed, as free agency has yet to begin and we’re still in the pre-combine stages of the offseason, but I won’t let that won’t stop me from playing Armchair GM.
A few things to note:
- The Rams have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. We’re rolling with four here, so clearly not all of the needs can be filled. Heck, they can’t all be filled in the draft alone. The Rams will hopefully look to be active in the early stages of free agency, solidifying holes all over their roster.
- In terms of franchise tag, the only player being mentioned is Trumaine Johnson. The Rams have until March 1 to utilize the tag, or Tru is set to test free agency. The Rams can’t afford to lose their top CB two years in a row...but a franchise tag brings nearly a $17M pay day. That’s a lot of dough for a team with $39M to spend (at this point).
- Speaking of spending power, the Rams do have the ability to free up some space, if they did indeed want to get aggressive in free agency. Here’s a list of potential cap casualties that could provide the Rams with quite a bit more spending power.
- Wade Phillips did confirm the Rams will run a 3-4 defense. It remains to be seen how the players currently on the roster will be utilized, but they’re going to need a few new bodies regardless.
- I’ve incorporate projected comp picks awarded to the Rams. You’ll see plenty of mocks out there where the Titans are picking at 101. If the Rams are indeed awarded a comp pick in the 3rd round (for losing Janoris Jenkins last year), they keep their original pick and the Titans receive their comp pick.
January’s 4-round mock draft looked like this...
Round 2 (Pick 37) - JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
Round 3 (Pick 69) - Tyler Orlosky, C, West Virginia
Round 4 (Pick 101) - Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA
Round 4 (Pick 141) - Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego St.
I tried hitting on the team’s biggest needs, which, to me, are (in no particular order) offensive line, wide receiver, and cornerback. Looking back, I feel there are few minor adjustments that need to be made.
For starters, while the Rams desperately need help at wide receiver, I’m not sure taking one at the top of the second round - unless Mike Williams, John Ross, or Corey Davis miraculously fall into their laps - is the best move for the Rams. Nor is taking an offensive tackle in the fourth. There are questions abound regarding who can/will start as Jared Goff’s blindside protector in 2017, but I don’t think a fourth round offensive tackle is in the mix. Lastly, Kazee has decided to return to school for his senior season, so we’ll have to look elsewhere for help there.
Enough rambling. Onto the good stuff...
Round 2 (37 Overall) - Desmond King, CB, Iowa
It remains to be seen whether or not Trumaine Johnson sticks with the Rams in 2017; whether that be via the franchise tag or coming to terms on a deal. Even if they do, the loss of Janoris Jenkins last offseason left a glaring hole in their secondary.
With this pick, I’m assuming the draft’s top three wideouts, as well as the top three offensive tackles are already off the board. Give me college football’s 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winner to help shore up the secondary.
Round 3 (69 Overall) - Pat Elflein, C, Ohio St.
I could very easily see a lot of moving parts along the Rams’ offensive line. Who knows where Greg Robinson will end up in 2017...whether it be tackle, guard, or free agency. Rodger Saffold has the versatility to move inside or out. And it remains to be seen whether or not Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown - both of whom were drafted in 2015 - can bounce back from injuries.
But the center position is one that needs upgrading in a big way, and the Rams cannot wait until the later stages of the draft to make their move. A first team All-American, and 2016’s Rimington Trophy winner (awarded to the Nation’s top center), Elflein can step in right away and prove to be a sizeable upgrade at the position.
Round 4 (101 Overall) - Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
This feels a more comfortable spot for the Rams to address their receiver needs, and still find themselves a dynamic play-maker who can not only contribute on offense, but in a big way on special teams — which could come in handy if primary kick returner Benny Cunningham is lost to free agency.
Henderson finished his junior year at Louisiana tech fifth in the nation in receiving yards (1,535), scoring 19 touchdowns on 82 catches. He averaged 32.2 yards per kickoff return, good for third best in the college football. He’s also one of 20 players, since 2000, to have 2500+ receiving yards, and 2000+ kick return yards. He accomplished this in three seasons.
Round 4 (141 Overall) - Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU
Simply put, the Rams don’t have the size they need at linebacker, fielding Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron. One of the SEC’s top linebackers (who was in consideration for the Butkus and Bednarik awards in 2015), Beckwith gives the Rams the size, strength, and tackling ability they desperately need at the ILB position.