With the 2018 NFL Draft behind us, we finally take a look at the haul of players that we’ve added. Some would say these are some middle of the road picks. However, our very own 3K was a fan of the new picks. So, let’s see what we’ve got and what we need:
A decision has been made in the front office of the Los Angeles Rams: they are fine with middle-round players battling for playing time. Some thought they were going to trade up to get a linebacker earlier in the draft, but that did not happen.
With the departure of OLB Robert Quinn, ILB Alec Ogletree and OLB Connor Barwin though he could presumably be re-signed, the Rams have three holes in their starting roster for linebackers with ILB Mark Barron being the returning member of the Mob Squad. OLB Samson Ebukam and OLB Matt Longacre are the likely starters at EDGE while Cory Littleton looks ready to line up next to Mark Barron at inside linebacker. However, besides Barron, those guys seem more like role players than starters. So, who could battle for a starting job during next season?
ILB Micah Kiser, drafted in the fifth round out of Virginia, could add excellent depth to that position and maybe take the job away from Littleton. The Rams added a truckload of EDGE rushers with Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, whom the Rams traded up to select at 160, a favorite to get some serious playing time. However, the Rams also drafted OLB Trevon Young, added LB Travin Howard and ended their draft by taking EDGE Justin Lawler.
While the Rams chose not to select any players to help out with their secondary, they quickly singed several undrafted free agents: S Steven Parker from Oklahoma, S Afolabi Laguda from Colorado, and S Chucky Williams from Louisville. Let’s see if these guys can make the 53-man roster and contribute to Lock Angeles.
Mystery man John Franklin-Myers and DL Sebastian Joseph from Rutgers will add some depth to a defensive line that boasts some serious firepower. And yesterday they added DT McKay Murphy from Weber State and DT Dalton Keane. I don’t think they’re going to make any more moves on the D-line, but who knows?
Maybe the surprise of the draft for Rams fans was the strategy to select O-line help before the linebacker holes were addressed. Regardless, the Rams now have a tackle in Joseph Noteboom, a center in Michigan St.’s Brian Allen, and a guard in Jamil Demby. Now, none of these guys are blue chip prospects, so I’m just going to be optimistic that GM Les Snead has found some diamonds in the rough. I will also be realistic that these dudes are not plug-and-play guys that can step right in and yield amazing results if an injury happens. That being said, I don’t see the Rams adding any more depth at the O-line with undrafted free agents. Or if they do, it’ll be practice squad-level players.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
While the Rams didn’t draft any pass catchers, they did sign undrafted free agent Steven Mitchell from USC. And they also grabbed the services of TE Codey McElroy from Southeastern Oklahoma State. With the trade of WR Tavon Austin to the Dallas Cowboys, could the Rams add someone to the stable of wide receivers? Probably, but I wouldn’t be looking for a big name.
One of my favorite selections by the Rams in the draft was using the 176th pick to take RB John Kelly out of Tennessee. I think he’s a perfect change of pace back to RB Todd Gurley, yet he still has to compete with RB Malcom Brown and RB Justin Davis. I think we’re good at running back.
So, what’s left for the Rams to do in free agency? They could re-sign Barwin and maybe pick up another cornerback or continue to poach the UDFA waters. None of these moves are necessary and if they just stand pat, I’ll be cool with it.