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2017 NFL Mock Draft: LA Rams Go D-Line At 37

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Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

A week ago, I noted that the Los Angeles Rams would make a bit of history if they selected a defensive player with their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft coming off of a season in which they put up the NFL’s worst offense. A new mock draft from Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar offers that hypothetical in stark terms.

With the Rams’ first pick at 37 overall, Kadar has us taking:

Michigan State DL Malik McDowell

It’s an interesting pick for sure. D-line doesn’t rank anywhere near the Rams’ top needs right now. Even contract-wise, the Rams are relatively comfortable with DT Aaron Donald at least locked up through 2019 and DT Michael Brockers having signed a three-year extension through 2019 last year.

There are two issues worth thinking through here.

One is the degree of satisfaction Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has with the roster as it pertains to the front seven. There’s no certainty of his support of anyone on the defensive line or linebacking corps outside of OLB Connor Barwin whom the Rams signed less than two weeks ago. So while I can suggest that D-line “doesn’t rank anywhere near the Rams’ top needs” with confidence, it may be the case that I’m underrating the need in more general terms.

The other issue is the annual fan push of incomplete “Best Player Available” absolutism. I see it every year in the comments, on Twitter and on Facebook. Nobody actually believes in BPA without reservation. We’re all BPAINOs. Should the Rams draft a quarterback or a running back in the second round? If I ran a poll on that question, the responses would near 100%. So we all agree that the Rams shouldn’t just draft whomever is atop their big board and that a BPA strategy is applied on a sliding scale of roster needs and position value. We just don’t like to admit it.

The rest of the mock warrants some attention too.

A week ago in Kadar’s Monday mock, I closed my reaction in noting who didn’t make the first round cut: Michigan ? Jabrill Peppers, Miami TE David Njoku, Ole Miss TE Evan Engram, UCLA OLB Takkarist McKinley and LSU CB Tre’Davious White, chiefly. This week, McKinley goes at 17 and Njoku goes two picks later while Peppers and Engram both come off the board in the second round in front of the Rams. Worth considering if the Rams would lean into a prospect like Peppers or Engram to the degree that they’d entertain moving up just a few spots to take them.

Random notes:

  • Four QBs in the first round. Would make for some fun narratives with Cleveland native UNC QB Mitch Trubisky headed to the New York Jets and Clemson QB DeShaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns while Carson Palmer tutors the Arizona Cardinals’ QB of the future in Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer. And if the Houston Texans take Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes, does Tony Romo head south to mentor him?
  • A couple of players late in the first that would intrigue me as potential Rams picks: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham, Western Kentucky OL Forrest Lamp, Alabama OLB Tim Williams and Indiana G Dan Feeney.
  • The Rams taking McDowell means they pass on a couple of names we’ve either seen floated to the Rams or done the floating ourselves in Alabama OL Cam Robinson, Washington CB Sidney Jones, White, Ohio St. LB Raekwon McMillan, USC CB Adoree’ Jackson, Washington S Budda Baker, Ohio St. OL Pat Elflein and Ohio St. OFF Curtis Samuel.

We’re getting close, yall.