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ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s first 2019 NFL Mock Draft sets baseline as season nears end

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The Hair drops his first mock of the season with the Rams spending their first-round pick on a replacement for DL Ndamukong Suh.

Ohio State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

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:

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.