Two weeks ago, I pointed out that the Los Angeles Rams have an opportunity to make some very odd history if they decide not to spend their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on an offensive player after putting up the NFL’s worst offense the year prior.
No team has waited until the 69th pick or later to draft an offensive player following a season featuring such offensive ignominy. A new mock draft from NFL Media’s Chad Reuter has the Rams doing that...and more.
It begs the question of whether a Best Player Available draft strategy would serve the Rams better over the long haul with new Head Coach Sean McVay headed into his first campaign. It also pressures the fissure between the offense, to be overseen by McVay and new Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur, and the defense underneath new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.
Reuter has the Rams getting started with:
2-37: Missouri DE/OLB Charles Harris
Harris is a fine edge rushing prospect with solid production coming out of the DE factory in Columbia. I’ve got some legitimate concerns about his athleticism, but the real question here is if this pick would spell the end of DE Robert Quinn’s time with the Rams. Having signed OLB Connor Barwin mid-March (whom NFL.com lists as Harris’ NFL comparison in their scouting report), a pairing of he and Harris would be a fine way to build the pass rush for Phillips. But would that render Quinn’s services useless? Could Quinn transition to a 3-4 DE on a line with DT Michael Brockers and DT Aaron Donald? Quinn would push less than $1m in dead money if the Rams released him next offseason from the extension he signed in 2014. Food for thought.
So having added defense in Round 2, the Rams have to go offense in Round 3, right? Right?!
3-69: Texas A&M S Justin Evans
Safety’s definitely a need as the Rams have seen both of their starting safeties in 2015 (S T.J. McDonald and S Rodney McLeod) exit via free agency. S Maurice Alexander filled in admirably last season. A fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Alexander propped up the depth chart behind the Mcs for two seasons. You could argue he was never intended to be the starter but to offer plus depth for injury and fatigue-based spells. As of now though, he’s atop the depth chart at the position. That’s a problem.
Both of these picks make sense roster-wise for the long term. And yes, it’s certainly wise to address the roster from that position going into the first year of the McVay administration.
But damn, bruh. We just gonna roll with the same personnel from the NFL’s worst offense minus a couple of starters and plus WR Robert Woods? I get it that 2017 is a preparatory season, but this would really be cramming it down our throats.
At least we can go offense in Round 4.
4-112: UNC DT Nazair Jones
Damn, Chad. That’s cold.
Jones is a poor man’s Brockers. He’s got strength and physicality, but dude is sloooooooooooooooooow. I do wonder how much that matters to Phillips and if he’s got a spot on his depth chart for a slow-footed power-only guy in his front three.
CAN WE PLEASE JUST GET ONE PLAYER ON OFFENSE PLEASE I DON’T CARE WHERE
4-141: West Virginia C Tyler Orlovsky
I struggle to find something wrong with this pick. Maybe there’s a rationale to go earlier for center with just C Demetrius Rhaney currently on the roster at the position. I do feel a bit uncomfortable about setting the bar here. If the Rams draft a center before the sixth round, he’s essentially going to be the assumed starter. And a Day 3 rookie being handed starting duties anywhere on the roster aint great. But here we are.
Well, we got our offensive player. Wade’s hungry for more to play with.
5-149: Houston CB Howard Wilson
Wilson’s a really good prospect to fall this far. He’s gotta add some weight to continue playing as physically as he does, but there’s a lot to like. Perhaps a fall this deep would be related to his ACL injury two seasons ago. Medical checks are always the elephant in the room, but hey. The Rams went for RB Todd Gurley at #10 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft less than half a year after doing his ACL. So yeah.
Could you stomach a draft in which the Rams head into the sixth round having taken just one offensive player and a center at that? Are you comfortable completely throwing 2017 away to build up the future for McVay, Phillips and LaFleur? Would Jared Goff have enough to work with to ensure he can develop into a quality NFL quarterback? I do worry that he’s going to be held back soon because of a lack of supporting talent (see: Todd Gurley in 2016). Does that factor into the Rams’ draft plans in a month?
Less than a month, fam.