Taking a bit of a different approach this week. We’re nearly halfway through the 2019 Los Angeles Rams regular season, and we’ve got a good sense of the outlook for next offseason. So instead of just looking at matchups and big games, I’m gonna be greedy and look at things from a Rams perspective today.
Five things to consider as we look through the college schedule today (and the weeks ahead):
LT Andrew Whitworth is likely playing out his final NFL season. That leaves the Rams without a known quantity to hand things off to in 2020. Could it be OL Joseph Noteboom or OL Bobby Evans? Possibly. But I wouldn’t rule out the idea that the Rams could be in the market (via free agency in 2020 or the 2020 NFL Draft) for a true successor.
Of course part of the complication here is that the trade for CB Jalen Ramsey has left the Rams without a first-round pick until 2022. So the Rams won’t be in for premium tackle prospects for years to come.
So here’s one to watch that could make sense for all parties involved:
Notre Dame LT Liam Eichenberg
#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #19 Michigan Wolverines
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT, ABC
Eichenberg’s not a top option, but the Rams won’t be in for one. He’s somebody that could offer upside with his athleticism and lack of overall physicality that could fit the line rebuild underway.
The Rams have a ton of youth they’re working through in the middle. The results, predictably, haven’t been stellar, but that doesn’t preclude the improvement and development of some of those options. So while RG Austin Blythe plays out the final year of his deal, OL Joseph Noteboom, C Brian Allen, OL David Edwards and OL Bobby Evans are all likely to be around next year. And OL Jamil Demby might be called upon again; if he can deliver a performance or two, he might be back in the mix as well. The Rams still might look to bring in more talent here though.
Ohio State LT Thayer Munford
#13 Wisconsin Badgers at #3 Ohio State Buckeyes
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT, FOX
Wait, we’re talking about interior linemen! Except...we’re also talking about the Rams. The Rams that lost former left guard Rodger Saffold III to free agency who played his college ball at tackle at Indiana. Saffold’s immediate replacement? Noteboom who played at TCU at tackle. With Noteboom down and Demby having a rough go, the Rams last week went to Edwards for his first start at left guard who played at Wisconsin at tack...you get it.
The Rams are clearly not averse to bringing in linemen and then (a) cross-training them at different positions before (b) plugging them in at positions they didn’t play in college. This was the case for the previous coaching staff under OL Coach Paul Boudreau and it has remained the case for Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator/Co-Offensive Coordinator Aaron Kromer. So don’t assume tackle prospects won’t move inside if they’re scooped up by the Rams.
That’s the angle I’m taking with Munford. A MASSIVE lineman out of the Cincinnati area, Munford has had to lose weight since arriving in Columbus. He’s not the most athletic lineman, but he’s got a huge power base to work from. Today’s the perfect kind of matchup to see how he fares against a power defense that isn’t as athletic in the front seven with guys like DE Isaiahh Loudermilk (awesome name), EDGE Zack Baun and ILB Chris Orr.
Dante Fowler, Jr., is in the final year of his contract. Clay Matthews is 33-years old.
This one has a very obvious viewing option today:
LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson/Auburn EDGE Nick Coe
#9 Auburn Tigers at #2 LSU Tigers
3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT, CBS
Both teams have been fantastic in 2019. Neither prospect has.
Chaisson just hasn’t had a breakout performance as the LSU defense hasn’t looked their normal selves. They haven’t been bad, and it’s worth noting they’ve played tougher competition than nearly any team in college ball.
Auburn battled to wins over #11 Oregon and Texas A&M before falling to #7 Florida. They’ve got their hands full in Baton Rouge today, but Coe hasn’t put up either as he has yet to register a single sack. I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes today.
While the move for CB Jalen Ramsey (and the subsequent required extension) lock in one spot for years to come, the other outside cornerback job is yet to be filled. CB Aqib Talib is in a contract year, and CB Troy Hill has a voidable 2020. CB David Long Jr. is yet to affirm his status having just played the first NFL game of his career.
TCU CB Jeff Gladney
#15 Texas Longhorns at TCU Horned Frogs
3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT, FOX
Gladney’s a really intriguing prospect at corner who has clearly intimidated opponents into not throwing at him this year. That won’t be the case today for UT who’s not afraid to go at anybody with their high-powered offense and fantastic wideout prospects in Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay.
The Rams aren’t tied to talent here. ILB Cory Littleton is scheduled to be a free agent and ILB Bryce Hager has been seemingly replaced by rookie UDFA LB Troy Reeder despite Hager returning to full health. The Rams could easily justify an investment here.
Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT, ABC
Murray was an absolute menace in the Red River Rivalry against UT two weeks ago. Not sure if it priced him out of the Rams’ range without a first-round pick in 2020, but he looked the part of a legitimate potential rookie NFL starter. If the Rams stay pat in the second-round, Murray would make a lot of sense.
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