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2018 NFL Mock Draft roundup: Everything’s in play for Los Angeles Rams

Just 47 days to the 2018 NFL Draft, and there’s 0 certainty when it comes to the Rams and the #23 overall pick.

LSU DE Arden Key
LSU DE Arden Key
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Got kinda busy this week what with the trades and the signings and the trades and the trades...

Time to hit some mocks with the 2018 NFL Draft less than 50 days away.

CBS Sports - Will Brinson

Last time around, Brinson had us taking Ohio St. C Billy Price, but as he notes in the Tennessee Titans’ pick of Iowa C James Daniels at #25 Price’s injury at the combine could push him down boards.

This time, he’s jumping across the line to the other side of the ball:

23. Los Angeles Rams: Arden Key, DE, LSU

The Rams have shown a willingness to gamble on some guys, and going with Key here is a gamble on a lot of upside, but they need pass rush help after dealing Robert Quinn this offseason.

Edge rusher is going to likely attract plenty of attention given how much value the position holds. And as the Rams have traded OLB Robert Quinn and OLB Connor Barwin is on an expiring contract, the Rams’ depth chart at the position is looking awfully thin.

As for Key specifically, it’s a risky pick. He’s flashed the traits of brilliance at the position especially in 2016. But this last season went about as poorly as it could have for Key. He had shoulder surgery in May of last year and broke his finger early on in the season before spraining his MCL later on. But it was his leave of absence from the program in the spring that teams are going to need answers to, answers they might have gotten at the combine.

That leave of absence was described as being due to “personal reasons,” but those reasons were never disclosed as Key gained 40 pounds in the run up to the season. Not helping things was Key’s cryptic approach to the issue in avoiding the media to explain his absence. Subsequent interviews with Key and his father have done nothing to help explain the absence.

His father:

“Let the past be the past.”

“He lost himself.”

Key himself:

“I went through adversity. Yes, I did make mistakes, bad decisions, but I’m past that.”

Teams are going to need to do some legitimate due diligence on Key and his motivations behind the last 12 months of his LSU career, because for all his talent on the field, we’ve seen plenty of mercurial talents flame out under the professional pressures of the NFL.

ESPN - Todd McShay (insider paywall)

McShay’s got a cornerback-heavy first round with five cornerbacks in the first. And his mock isn’t nearly as top-heavy with QBs as many mocks are.

That said, he’s got an interesting pick for the Rams:

23. Los Angeles Rams: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

The Rams had a need at CB, but the pending deal for Marcus Peters takes care of that. There’s no edge rusher worthy of this pick, so I’m going with the top-rated offensive lineman on the board. Hernandez is a monster in the running game and gives no ground to bull rushers. He’ll help to keep Jared Goff protected and open up running lanes for Todd Gurley II.

It’s certainly a position of need you can endorse looking at the contract timeline on the inside. I wonder between the edge, OLB and ILB what the Rams are going to hit in free agency, because I’d be willing to bet heavily on at least one of those getting filled at the starting level. That obviously is going to affect the primary needs in a way that will filter down to the #23 pick.

NFL Network - Lance Zierlein

Pretty conventional mock, save for this new nonsense about the Cleveland Browns taking Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley #1 overall...I mean, I suppose it’s possible. But man alive would that be unwise.

In any case, Zierlein’s pick for the Rams certainly isn’t out of bounds:

23. Los Angeles Rams: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

When I watch Landry, I’m reminded of Whitney Mercilus. The Rams are looking for rush help off the edge and guess who helped bring Mercilus to the Texans? Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who held the same job with Houston when it picked Mercilus.

We last saw Landry mocked our way from Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar earlier this week.

I do wonder if the edge position is going to take on more momentum coming out of free agency. We’re obviously not going to sign two starting-quality edge rushers. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

We’ll get our answers in free agency soon. Legal tampering opens on Monday and the market opens in full on Wednesday.

Fun week ahead!