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ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Los Angeles Rams in familiar territory in first 2018 NFL Mock Draft

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The Hair has weighed in, and his pick for the Rams isn’t a shocker.

Auburn CB Carlton Davis defends a pass against Texas A&M in 2015
Auburn CB Carlton Davis defends a pass against Texas A&M in 2015
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

ESPN’s Mel Kiper has his first mock draft of the year (behind ESPN’s insider paywall) and as always, it’s landing with major impact.

Mock drafts always carry an air of disbelief, but Kiper always helps to cut through that given his longevity in the industry. No, the 2018 NFL Draft won’t bow to Kiper, but conventional wisdom always does even for the Los Angeles Rams (NOBODY was talking about Greg Robinson as a top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft before Kiper and of course he ultimately went #2 overall). And consider the impact his mock has on the conventional wisdom with the first overall pick.

Kiper has the Cleveland Browns taking Wyoming Cowboys QB Josh Allen.

Yeah.

No real surprises otherwise in the top 10, but I would note that at #9 the San Francisco 49ers land Ohio St. CB Denzel Ward. We’ve seen him linked to the Rams a couple of times in mock drafts recently. Iowa CB Josh Jackson leaves at #15 to the Arizona Cardinals. And even UCF CB Mike Hughes goes before the Los Angeles Rams pick to the Buffalo Bills at #21.

That perhaps is why Kiper’s pick for the Rams does merit some legitimate discussion:

Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

If the Rams had a weakness in their huge turnaround from 2016 to 2017, it was at cornerback. They have to upgrade. Trumaine Johnson was franchise tagged last offseason and is a free agent. Nickell Robey-Coleman is also a free agent. Troy Hill is a restricted free agent. This is a clear hole. Davis had a great season and is my fourth-ranked corner. At 6-1, 200 pounds, he has good size.

I won’t argue on need, obviously. What’s interesting is that this is the fourth cornerback in the draft. It would mean the Rams pass on the top center in Kiper’s mock: Ohio St. OL Billy Price. It would mean passing on the third and fourth offensive tackles in UCLA OT Kolton Miller and Texas OT Connor Williams. Maybe most importantly, Kiper has the Rams taking Davis over Boston College OLB Harold Landry, often hailed as the top pass rusher in the class.

Something to consider as Kiper’s mock begins eliciting reaction from around NFL media today.

Would the Rams benefit more from a need pick at cornerback over top prospects of another position?