One week! Just one week until the 2018 NFL Draft is upon us, Los Angeles Rams fans. In just 10 days, Dallas will take the NFL spotlight and turn it on the college prospects coming in to save every roster hole and shore up every depth chart.
Over at Rotoworld, Josh Norris and Evan Silva are looking at that very effort identifying the top roster needs for every team and then offering a mock draft that hits those needs to shore up every roster in the NFL.
Silva’s taking the roster needs, and his top two likely match most fans’ assessment:
Need No. 1: Outside Linebacker
Having traded away Robert Quinn and apparently moved on from free agent Connor Barwin, the Rams would start contract-year OLB Matt Longacre and 2017 fourth-round pick Samson Ebukam on the edges if the season began today.
Need No. 2: Inside Linebacker
Mark Barron is locked in as one of the Rams’ starting inside linebackers, but the Alec Ogletree trade left Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager and Ramik Wilson as Los Angeles’ top candidates to start next to Barron.
Hard to quibble with those two at the top both for the situation there but also around the rest of the roster. Every roster has holes. That the Rams’ starting lineups really have just these two is incredible.
Silva’s third need is the first one of mild surprise:
Need No. 3: Depth on Both Lines
Trying to capitalize on Jared Goff’s rookie-contract window, the Rams have been very aggressive signing free agents and trading draft picks for proven players. The strategy has left Los Angeles with few team needs, but depth could become an issue. On the offensive line, the Rams’ biggest need is interior depth. Up front on defense, the Rams have a bunch of guys on one-year deals.
Here, I might argue with the offensive line assessment especially if you look at the contractual outlook at the position. You could make a very, very easy case that the 2020 Los Angeles Rams’ offensive line could feature five new starters. Obviously it’d be less work to hold on to one or two from the current line, but the expiration date on this group is near. So in terms of looking at the immediacy of the need, I’d put things in more extreme verbiage even at tackle.
For the defensive line, it’s really about re-signing DL Aaron Donald. DL Michael Brockers is locked in through 2019 and the Rams are going to have to find a replacement for DL Ndamukong Suh next offseason anyway. Assuming that we #paytheman at some point before his absence from Phase I of the 2018 offseason which is officially underway today doesn’t extend into something more cringeworthy (#pleasepaytheman), the 2019 line looks to be in fine shape. Beyond that, perhaps we could begin to consider a post-Brockers defensive line. I’m not nearly as worried about the defensive side (again, assuming #paytheman) as I am on offense.
But that gets us into Norris’ mock which has tons of opportunity for the Rams to rebuild the roster. And he lays right into the needs:
87. Los Angeles Rams: Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers
The Rams have brought in so many edge rushers. [Oklahoma EDGE Ogbonnia] Okoronkwo, [SMU EDGE Justin] Lawler, etc. I love Turay’s game, as his flexibility to turn the corner once creating separation definitely fits Wade Phillips’ mentality. He can come in and contribute immediately, which is what the Rams need out of this pick.
Hard not to buy into this. Sosa had a great scouting report on him last week. At this point, any edge rusher is going to suffice from a need standpoint. I suppose we’ll all have our favorites going into Day 2. Maybe a Turay train is building...
Onto the trio from Round 4:
111. Los Angeles Rams: Dane Cruikshank, DB, Arizona Wildcats
A prospect the Rams have shown interest in. I know they brought in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, but as of now Peters is on a one-year deal and Talib is on the wrong side of 30. Lacking corner depth really hurt the Rams down the stretch. Plus, Lamarcus Joyner is on the franchise tag. I’m sure they want to re-sign him, but not everyone will be able to stay. Cruikshank has played multiple spots.
The Rams met with Cruikshank last week, so this would certainly be on the radar. I mentioned the Joyner angle in that piece. As much as I’d like to see Joyner sign a long-term deal, the fact the Rams haven’t been able to get that done at this point would suggest it’s not happening. At least Cruikshank would give the Rams an out next year that would already be on the roster.
135. Los Angeles Rams: Christian Sam, OLB, Arizona St.
The more I watch Sam, the more I like. Another prospect the Rams have displayed interest in. He’s aggressive and makes the most of his athleticism by attacking up the field or anticipating outside runs at the line of scrimmage.
Another player the Rams met with last week. Another obvious roster fit.
136. Los Angeles Rams: Cole Madison, OT, Washington St.
I wonder if the Rams will package a number of these picks to aggressively move up for a specific target. Madison is a prospect with tackle experience who might move inside as well. He has more experience on the right side.
A massive right tackle from WSU. I mentioned above, the offensive line needs looking out beyond the immediacy of 2018 extends beyond the elder statesmen in LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Rodger Saffold and C John Sullivan. Madison would be fine insurance if the Rams aren’t willing/able to re-sign RT Rob Havenstein. He’d otherwise provide a solid option to rotate in a roster battle with recently re-signed OT Darrell Williams and OT Cornelius Lucas.
176. Los Angeles Rams: Jamil Demby, OT, Maine
Demby continues to draw considerable interest from teams in the form of visits, including the Rams. A priority for the Rams might be to find their left tackle of the future, and Demby has plenty of experience at that position. If anything, he might offer utility skills.
183. Los Angeles Rams: Peter Kalambayi, EDGE, Stanford
Edge depth. Not necessarily a pure pass rusher, Kalambayi is more of a consistent presence against the run who soundly holds the edge.
194. Los Angeles Rams: Mike Boone, RB, Cincinnati
Late round running back help via one of the more athletic ball carriers in this class.
195. Los Angeles Rams: Russell Williams, Jr., OLB, Hawaii
I know I’ve repeated positions here multiple times, but these are the real needs on the Rams’ roster.
It’s a little needs-heavy for my liking. At this point, you’re looking for guys who can make a 53-man roster, not really drafting for need. Forcing needs here is how you end up with Andrew Donnal, Cody Wichmann and Isaiah Battle...yeah.
That being said if these guys stick, sure! I love the Boone pick. He was a wide receiver coming out of high school who former Head Coach Tommy Tuberville converted to running back. Though he was never as productive on the ground as former Cincinnati Bearcat and former St. Louis Rams RB Isaiah Pead, that experience as a slot WR served him well as a dual threat out of the backfield. If the Rams were looking to spell RB Todd Gurley in passing sets with RB Lance Dunbar, Boone would make all the sense in the world.
We’re close, folks! Just 10 days. What do you think of the roster needs and the mock? What other needs do you see as equally pressing? Any prospects you’re falling for? Sound off in the comments or hit us up on Twitter or on IG.