ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his position big boards (insider subscription required) for the 2018 NFL Draft today. They lay out a couple of very interesting paths for the Los Angeles Rams who currently hold what would be the first first-round pick for Head Coach Sean McVay to employ.
As always, the value of the quarterback position dominates everything, so let’s start there:
1. Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph
2. Washington St. QB Luke Falk
3. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
4. Idaho QB Matt Linehan
5. Western Kentucky QB Mike White
1. USC QB Sam Darnold
2. Wyoming QB Josh Allen
3. UCLA QB Josh Rosen
4. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
5. Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson
It’s certainly an interesting crop. You’ve got the star power coming out of Los Angeles in Darnold and Rosen. Jackson’s Heisman-winning 2016 season certainly gave him some national attention. I’m not a fan of Mayfield at this level whatsoever, but he’s a fun college QB to watch. And don’t discount Linehan, the son of former Rams Head Coach and current Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan.
The question here would be where the Rams might invest if Jared Goff struggles and Sean Mannion fails to capture the faith of the coaching staff. Four quarterbacks went off the board prior to the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The entire draft saw 10 QBs go. So you’re essentially looking at a very rough estimate of the entire 2018 NFL Draft QB class. If the Rams are awarded a top five pick again, do they go at the top of this group? If they’re somewhere closer to winning football, is Day 3 the only option for QB depth?
Another position of interest could be wide receiver. The Rams have invested plenty of depth capital in the last two drafts there, but unless Robert Woods makes a huge jump, there could be a spot open at WR1 on the depth chart:
1. Oklahoma St. WR James Washington
2. LSU WR D.J. Chark
3. Oregon WR Darren Carrington
4. Washington WR Dante Pettis,
5. Pitt WR Jester Weah
1. Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk
2. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
3. Florida WR Antonio Callaway
4. SMU WR Courtland Sutton
5. Clemson WR Deon Cain
Two wildly different groups here. Unlike the QBs where the seniors and underclassmen match up well, this underclassmen crew far outpaces the seniors. Only Washington would join the quintet of the younger prospects.
And yes, the former Rams connections continue here in Pettis who is the cousin of former Rams WR Austin Pettis, the Rams’ third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
We’re bound to see a ton of fluctuation here. One name I expect to pop up on this board this year? USC WR Deontay Burnett. Now that Juju Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers are both in the NFL, Burnett is likely the lead man on the WR depth chart. With Darnold looking to lead USC toward a playoff berth, Burnett could shine. If his performance in the Rose Bowl was any indication of what’s to come, look out.
Another position that could warrant top dedication? Offensive tackle:
1. Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey
2. Ohio St. OT Jamarco Jones
3. Michigan OT Mason Cole
4. Western Michigan OT Chukwuma Okorafor
5. Oregon OT Tyrell Crosby
1. Washington OT Trey Adams
2. Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown
3. Clemson OT Mitch Hyatt
4. Pitt OT Brian O'Neill
5. Kansas St. OT Dalton Risner
Tons of talent here, though scouting this position is something the Rams haven’t done well in a long time...The Andrew Whitworth Experiment is only going to last for so long at 35-years old. The Greg Robinson Experiment likely lasts even less long, age aside.
If I had to bet what the Rams do with their first-round pick next spring, offensive tackle is where I’d put my money right now.
I’d include OLB here, but Kiper’s board is built on 4-3 schemes, so it’s a bit off from what we do. So while I’d peg OT as the likely position to address in Round 1 next year, I could LSU OLB Arden Key as a top-12 pick for the Rams.
What else do you think could be on the horizon as a major need? What players for the 2017 Rams will affect our draft board next year for better or for worse? What college players are you most excited to see this year?