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ESPN’s Todd McShay puts up first 2019 NFL mock draft that has Los Angeles Rams bolstering defense

Let the mock draft season begin.

Mississippi State Bulldogs S Johnathan Abram tackles Arkansas Razorbacks WR Deon Stewart, Nov. 17, 2018.
Mississippi State Bulldogs S Johnathan Abram tackles Arkansas Razorbacks WR Deon Stewart, Nov. 17, 2018.
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I blame myself. I’ve been behind on the developing storylines for the 2019 NFL Draft and mock drafts here at TST thanks to a cluttered personal schedule and the success of the Los Angeles Rams on the field in 2018.

No more excuses.

We’ve got a great starting point this week from ESPN’s Todd McShay who offered up his first mock of the season (ESPN+ subscription required) that sets a baseline for the early conventional wisdom starting with the developing strength of the early first round: the defensive line class.

The first five players from his mock draft are all defensive linemen including his #1 overall pick, Ohio State Buckeyes EDGE Joey Bosa. It’s not until you get to the 6th overall pick that you get the first non-DL, Alabama Crimson Tide OT Jonah Williams, who heads to the Buffalo Bills.

I’m not sure how realistic that is knowing the pull that quarterbacks have had on teams to move up the last several years including, obviously, the Rams moving up to the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to take QB Jared Goff. McShay doesn’t have a QB taken until Oregon Ducks QB Justin Herbert goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars at #7. Ohio St. QB Dwayne Haskins comes off three picks later to the New York Giants.

I was a bit surprised to see Houston Cougars DT Ed Oliver drop all the way to the Cleveland Browns at #12.

As for some prospects that could intrigue the Rams, McShay has a pair of edge rushers going early that would qualify. Kentucky Wildcats OLB Josh Allen heads to the Detroit Lions at #9 while Mississippi St. Bulldogs EDGE Montez Sweat heads off at #15 to the Green Bay Packers. I’d keep an eye on the stock for those two to see if we can envision them dropping to the Rams with any sincerity.

Of course once you get to the back half of the first round of a mock draft, any of these guys could drop deep into the playoff spots of the first or beyond. Michigan Wolverines LB Devin Bush hits at #21 to the Baltimore Ravens while Alabama S Deionte Thompson heads to the Oakland Raiders at #25 via the trade with the Dallas Cowboys for WR Amari Cooper.

One random pick that piqued my interest? Wisconsin Badgers OL Michael Deiter going to the Houston Texans at #27. With the Rams quickly approaching a point where they will be without LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Rodger Saffold III and C John Sullivan, further additions to the line are going to be required.

Ultimately though, McShay has the Rams bolstering their secondary with the #30 pick:

#30.) Mississippi St. Bulldogs S Johnathan Abram

Free agency could hit the Rams’ defense pretty hard, so a lot of what Sean McVay does with his first-rounder will depend on how it all plays out. But Abram is a powerful finisher on the back end and would soften the potential loss of Lamarcus Joyner.

It’s early, so it’s hard to find much to quibble with here.

The path to the draft is on!