So with many Rams fans bristling at the lack of potential defensive inputs from the 2019 NFL Draft, NFL.com’s Chad Reuter published has new three-round mock that will satisfy the most defensively-addicted members of the Ramily.
There is a bit of surprise early on in the mock. Reuter has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers using the #5 overall pick to take Alabama Crimson Tide RB Josh Jacobs. Years of data have shown it’s just entirely unwise to take a running back early, but teams continue to do so. Certainly, this would be a horrendous move on the Bucs’ part, though that’s not a responsibility of the mocker to respond to. If anything, it’s a question of why the Bucs would make such a pick...which many teams are wont to do.
Reuter addresses the first-round elephant in the room at #6 with the New York Giants taking Ohio State Buckeyes QB Dwayne Haskins with Oklahoma Sooners QB Kyler Murray going a pick later to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
EDGE Watchers might like this mock. Kentucky Wildcats EDGE Josh Allen and Michigan Wolverines EDGE Rashan Gary go off far too early (both top 4 picks), but many of the other popular prospects to tempt the Rams fall far enough to come into view. Clemson Tigers DE Clelin Ferrell goes at #8 to the Detroit Lions. Florida Gators EDGE Jachai Polite heads at #12 to the Green Bay Packers. Mississippi St. Bulldogs EDGE Montez Sweat is up seven picks later to the Tennessee Titans. And that’s it before the Rams, so you’ve got spacing and delay, the two keys to a position spread to help your team.
And that leads us to the Rams at 31:
#31.) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs EDGE Jaylon Ferguson
Ferguson’s pass-rush ability makes him a good fit for the Rams if they don’t retain Dante Fowler.
Certainly, it’s hard to get upset at edge rushing help from this draft. The Rams were so desperate to upgrade it mid-season they sent two draft picks to the Jags to get Fowler. So to bring in a first-round pick of their own to groom at low cost over the next four (and possibly five) years is obviously attractive.
The opportunity costs are immediate.
The New England Patriots take Mississippi St. Bulldogs DT Jeffery Simmons a pick after the Rams followed by the Arizona Cardinals leading off Round 2 taking Michigan LB Devin Bush and the cash-flush Indianapolis Colts adding Delaware S Nasir Adderley at 34. I could buy the Rams taking any of those three at 31.
Plenty of intrigue thereafter throughout round 2, but perhaps the most interesting is the pick Reuter alludes to in his mock headline with the Pats taking N.C. State Wolfpack QB Ryan Finley at #56.
Reuter’s round 3 goes HEAVY on the secondary class. Ten of the 38 picks come at the back with the run beginning at #75 with the Pack taking Maryland Terrapins S Darnell Savage, Jr. If the Rams are going to address the secondary in round 3, a run like this would certainly work to our disadvantage.
Reuter plays that specific scenario out.
With our first third-round pick, Reuter goes with:
#94.) Kentucky Wildcats CB Lonnie Johnson
The Rams’ secondary struggled at times during 2018. Plus, Sam Shields is due to become a free agent, while Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are a year away from the open market.
The Rams’ cornerback depth chart is in the same position the Rams’ offensive line depth chart was a year ago, so beefing it up now makes plenty of sense. Johnson has plus size and athletic skills without being the quickest corner, so he’d certainly fill in as a prospect to take over an outside corner spot for Talib or Peters in 2020.
The Rams are back on the clock just five picks later, and Reuter has them coming back to the secondary:
#99.) Marshall Thundering Herd S Malik Gant
Lamarcus Joyner is due to become a free agent, so the Rams might need to address the safety position alongside 2017 third-round pick John Johnson III. Gant is a physical player who pops off the tape.
Gant’s one of those prospects that’s tough to gauge because it took him so long to put it all together which isn’t surprising given that he walked on in 2015. He was lightly recruited out of high school from the Washington, D.C., area and took a couple seasons to grow into his role with the Herd. The easy comparison? Johnson himself who was similarly underrecruited out of DC and spent a couple of seasons honing his craft with Maryland before breaking out in his junior year. There’s a clear argument (and goodness, does Johnson ever help reinforce it) that sometimes the best NFL players at, say, 23-years old aren’t always the most impressive players in high school at 18-years old.
So maybe Gant is the next in line to carry that torch for guys that just need time to come into their own. There’s a certain defender on the Rams you could argue was in a similar position who has turned into the best player in the entire NFL...
And while it’s easy to wrap things up there, look at Reuter’s final three picks of his third round: Old Dominion Monarchs EDGE Oshane Ximines, West Virginia Mountaineers OT Yodny Cajuste and Oregon Ducks EDGE Jalen Jelks. All three have been mocked to the Rams...in the first round.
What say you of a Ferguson-Johnson-Gant haul, Rams fans? Comfortable with an all-defense trio through three rounds without any support on the offensive line? Too needs-based? Just right?