ESPN’s Todd McShay has a new mock draft up today (behind the ESPN insider paywall) that lays out his “Grade A” draft results for every team through three rounds. It’s an interesting exercise given how many twists and turns the 2018 NFL Draft will go through before the Los Angeles Rams are on the clock with their first pick at #87...barring any other trades.
You’ve got the sheer size of early draft capital from the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts. Cleveland’s haul from the first three rounds includes the #1 overall pick, #4, #33, #35 and #64 while Indy holds #6, #36, #37, #49 and #67. I could see both, but especially the Browns, trading down to pick up even more picks. Both are in the driver’s seat in this year’s draft.
From an NFC West perspective, the division is pretty light in this year’s early activity. The Rams don’t factor in the first two rounds while the Seattle Seahawks pick at #18 in the first round but won’t be back on the clock until #120 due to the for DT Sheldon Richardson and OT Duane Brown. McShay mocks them to take UTSA DE Marcus Davenport. The Cardinals hold their natural picks in each of the first three rounds including the first compensatory pick of the draft having lost DL Calais Campbell to free agency leaving them with a haul at #15, #47, #79 and #97. McShay has them taking Louisville CB Jaire Alexander early and then a trio of offensive picks in SMU WR Courtland Sutton, Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph and Arkansas C Frank Ragnow. With a new head coach in Steve Wilks, who knows what kind of team this would produce but it at least gives them a future to look toward. As for the San Francisco 49ers, fans are excited having traded with the New England Patriots for QB Jiffy Gropandpop. McShay mocks their class of #9, #59, #70 and #74 to Alabama WR Calvin Ridley, Wake Forest S Jessie Bates III, Florida St. DE Josh Sweat and Alabama CB Anthony Averett. Is Ridley enough support for Gararrarar in 2018? The Niners were obviously much more prolific offensively once they landed Glowpopular, but this year will be a better measuring stick now that he’s signed that five-year, $137.5m deal.
And then there’s the matter of the Rams. We currently hold an eight-pick class, 87.5% of which comes on Day 3 in the final four rounds. The only pick McShay mocks to us is that #87 selection where he mocks:
87. Los Angeles Rams: Josey Jewell, ILB, Iowa
The Rams have been extremely aggressive in trading draft picks for veterans, so they only have one pick in the first three rounds. Jewell has some physical limitations but is an instinctive run defender. He can help make up for the loss of Alec Ogletree.
The Rams are in an unusual position in this year’s draft. The roster is sparkling across the starting lineups. There are depth issues, certainly at offensive line, but it’s a roster that most of the rest of the NFL doesn’t match up with. So they can address depth at the line and across the linebacking corps with these late picks as well as stack up (hopefully) playable talent elsewhere. Jewell’s a fine option to lead that effort off, but really this year will be about the haul as a whole and not the headliner much like last year in the 2017 NFL Draft when the Rams didn’t pick until #44 overall and had just one selection in the top 68.
The 2018 NFL Draft begins in just 16 days. The wait is on...