While the Los Angeles Rams are prepping for the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship, most of the NFL has already turned its sights to the offseason and the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.
So with an eye toward our shifting priorities in about three weeks regardless of what happens, we can take note of ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s first mock draft today (behind the ESPN+ paywall).
Kiper mocks are always useful to set a baseline of conventional wisdom early on. So with that in mind, a couple notes here:
- With Kentucky Wildcats OLB Josh Allen going #2 overall, it’s worth putting him in the same tier as Ohio State Buckeyes EDGE Nick Bosa and Alabama Crimson Tide DT Quinnen Williams, who Kiper has going #1 and #3 respectively, as a legitimate top tier candidate even if he isn’t going to the Senior Bowl.
- Kiper has OSU QB Dwayne Haskins going at #6 to the New York Giants as the first QB taken. Plenty of time left to move things around, but that would seem to help cement his status as the class’ best quarterback.
- LSU Tigers LB Devin White goes at #8 to the Detroit Lions. I’m still holding out hope that he somehow falls anywhere near the Rams when it’s all said and done.
- Oklahoma Sooners QB Kyler Murray declared for the draft this week. While he might not ultimately commit to football and instead elect to play out his chances with the Oakland Athletics, his quickness and elusiveness (and size) makes him one of the most fascinating QB prospects ever. Kiper locks him in at #13 to the Miami Dolphins.
- For Rams fans on EDGE alert, here’s the rundown. Clemson Tigers EDGE Clelin Ferrell at #12 to the Green Bay Packers. Florida Gators EDGE Jachai Polite at #15 to the Washington EDGE Takers. Florida State Seminoles EDGE Brian Burns to the Carolina Panthers a pick later. Old Dominion Monarchs EDGE Oshane Ximines, one of the most fascinating prospects in early contention, heads off at #21 to the Seattle Seahawks and Mississippi St. Bulldogs EDGE Montez Sweat to the Philadelphia Eagles at #25.
- Duke Blue Devils QB Daniel Jones goes to the New England Patriots at #29. He’s going to be a very interesting candidate come draft season. And man alive would I like him not to head to the Pats.
So with the Rams up at #30, Kiper mocks us to take:
#30.) Ohio St. DT Dre’Mont Jones
You can’t discount the Rams trading out of this spot -- they didn’t pick until No. 89 last year. But since there are no trades allowed here, let’s give Wade Phillips a piece with which to work. Ndamukong Suh will likely move on in free agency, which means there’s an open spot next to all-world interior pass-rusher Aaron Donald. Jones, who had 8.5 sacks in 2018, is an athlete. He could even play end for L.A.
Along with Suh’s impending exit, I’d also point out the very viable case for Michael Brockers to be a cap casualty in the offseason. That would create a strong priority on the defensive line to match or even exceed the need across the linebacking positions inside and out. So no issues with the pick here for me, though I’d note that Alabama S Deionte Thompson goes a pick later to the Kansas City Chiefs and would be a spectacular replacement for S Lamarcus Joyner.
And since we haven’t really addressed it, I’m a bit surprised we haven’t seen many mocks with the Rams going OL with the first pick. Every defensive position will be in play, but you could easily add OL into that group as a position worth considering with the first-round pick. And since we don’t have a second-rounder as things stand, our next picks in the third round might only add backup QB as a legitimate position to consider mock-wise.
In any case, here’s some mockery to get us through the day as the Rams get their second NFC Championship preparatory practice underway later today.