Chad Reuter dropped a four-round mock heading into the weekend over at NFL.com with some new names to heed for Los Angeles Rams fans.
As is always the case with any mock this season, the space between #20 or so up to #36 one spot in front of the Rams with the 37th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft is where we need to pay attention. Draft stock is going to be fluid, though every year there are always thousands of people adamant that Player X will never fall to Spot # and then Laremy Tunsil happens and then Aaron Rodgers happens. It won’t stop them (read: you if that’s you, ya gumball).
As fate would have it, #20 is a perfect place to start in this mock as it follows a running back at #19 (Florida State Seminoles RB Dalvin Cook) which, given RB Todd Gurley, is a position the Rams are unlikely to address early on in this draft. So we pick up at #20 with Western Kentucky OT Forrest Lamp. Lamp’s been pretty frequently mocked in the middle of the first; barring a major setback at the combine or at his Pro Day, he’d be a surprise to fall into the second. As I alluded to above though, anything’s possible.
One of the prospects I’m hoping to fall to us right now is Washington WR John Ross. Reuter has him going at #28 to the Dallas Cowboys which would make me outright sick. Let us pray. Ohio St. WR Curtis Samuel lands with the San Francisco 49ers early in the 2nd round just ahead of the Rams.
If we’re tracking cornerbacks (with two in the top 20 in Ohio St. CB Marshon Lattimore at #6 and LSU CB Tre’Davious White at #17), there are five before the Rams’ pick after #20 : Florida CB Teez Tabor (#21), Washington CB Sidney Jones (#27), Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley (#27) who we’ve seen mocked our way before, Florida CB Quincy Wilson (#33) and Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey (#35).
So perhaps with so many cornerbacks off the board, Reuter has the Rams tagging offense with their first pick of the draft with:
Cal WR Chad Hansen
If you’re playing the local ties angle, this one’s easy.
Hansen went to Moorpark High, just minutes away from the Rams’ current HQ in Thousand Oaks. After starting his collegiate football career at Idaho State, Hansen walked on to the Cal team in 2014 sitting out a year as a transfer. Where his 2015 season was unspectacular, he was a revelation this last year.
Through the first four games of the year, Hansen had 50 catches for 656 yards and six touchdowns. An injury threw things off in the middle of the season, but he finished at top speed with big games against Washington State, Stanford and UCLA. The season totals were impressive even with the injury causing him to miss two games:
- 9.2 receptions per game (3rd in FBS)
- 124.9 receiving yards per game (4th)
- 92 receptions (11th)
- 1,249 receiving yards (17th)
The question is if you are scared off by the meteoric rise (in a draft that’s likely going to ask that question often with North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky tempting teams early on). If not, he’s going to get the classic racially-motivated tones we often hear: hard-working, unassuming, lunchpail type. Add that to his local connections, and you can see where this is going (this from the Moorpark Acorn which is a first-round newspaper name):
Hansen trains daily in Irvine with fellow NFL hopefuls, including former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington receiver), James Conner (Pitt running back), River Cracraft (Washington State receiver) and C.J. Beathard (Iowa QB).
Yeah, I don’t think this will be the last we see of a Hansen-Rams connection.
On through the second into the third round. Reuter includes the Rams’ projected comp pick for Janoris Jenkins in the third round, but mistakenly has the Rams keeping that pick and sending their original pick to the Titans; the deal actually includes the opposite, but no mind. It’s the mock draft down under, so let’s not harp to hard on Reuter when he’s throwing out four rounds of this.
Consider that with the 69th overall pick, Reuter has the Titans using the Rams’ pick on USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. I’m not sure that had he gotten the Rams’ draft order right that he would’ve changed the pick (though perhaps with Hansen at #35, doubling up on wideouts would be overkill). Nonetheless, I thought it interesting. Down at #101 with the comp pick, Reuter mocks the Rams to:
Miami CB Corn Elder
As I said in this Senior Bowl preview, I don’t like Elder’s skill set, but hot damn is that a great name.
The tip-off for me is whether these are the two biggest priority value needs heading into the 2017 NFL draft in wide receiver and cornerback. Obviously, if the Rams re-sign CB Trumaine Johnson to a long-term deal, that’s an entirely different calculus than if he leaves. I just wonder that if those are the top two needs heading into the draft that we can prepare for the Rams to come out of it with at least one drafted rookie at each position. Food for thought.
Into Round 4 with the 107th overall pick, we get:
St. Francis (Pa.) S Lorenzo Jerome
Saint Francis University is a Third Order Franciscan Friar institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, where the Red Flash play in front of raucous crowds at monstrous DeGol Field:
Wikipedia is great for leaning about all kinds of new facts, just like this ones I just typed. It doesn’t help you learn much about Lorenzo Jerome.
Capping things off, Reuter has the Rams picking up a fourth-round compensatory pick for losing Rodney McLeod to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency last season (the second of the three that Over the Cap projected us to receive). That gives us a final pick at #140 overall to take:
Utah C J.J. Dielman
Some will recognize the last name as J.J. is the cousin of Kris Dielman, the four-time Pro Bowler who played with the San Diego Chargers from 2003-11. J.J. Dielman played right tackle prior to converting to center this season before a leg injury in the fifth game of the season ended his redshirt senior campaign.
His injury scan and measurables will be key for him in this next month and a half. If the current staff values line position versatility anywhere near as much as their predecessors, he’d be an obvious potential fit.
The one thing I took away from this mock is how needs-heavy it was. Wide receiver. Cornerback. Safety. Versatile offensive lineman. I don’t think those decisions are going to upset many. But we’re coming out of a Jeff Fisher-Les Snead era which leaned on a “best player available” strategy in much greater weight than a “position need” one. While Snead remains the Rams’ general manager, there’s a new head coach in town. How their relationship affects the team’s decision-making process will have everything to do with how they approach the draft and what comes out of it. Whether that means a similar approach to the top draft picks or a new, need-based effort will be determined soon enough.
One week to the combine. Expect the mocks to come hot and heavy.