The first round is relatively conventional. I guess it’s a bit hot to not have Ohio State Buckeyes EDGE Nick Bosa going first overall but having him at #2 and Alabama Crimson Tide DT Quinnen Williams at the top is hardly out of bounds. Interesting pick at #22 as the Baltimore Ravens pick up N.C. State Wolfpack WR Kelvin Harmon.
#31.) Alabama Crimson Tide ILB Mack Wilson
After helping out Eli Manning with their top-10 pick, the Giants trade a Day 2 pick in next year’s draft (and a Day 3 pick in this year’s) to move back into the first round for a defensive playmaker. Wilson is still a bit raw, but there’s no denying his combination of athleticism and physicality, which makes him a strong value pick here.
Adding a second-rounder and a Day 3 pick while still being able to drop just six picks? Yes, please. I’d be perfectly content to move back in the second round again, though Easterling has the Rams standing pat to take:
#37.) Clemson Tigers DL Dexter Lawrence
An easy fit for the outgoing DL Ndamukong Suh and certainly fine value.
Scan the second round; there are plenty of attractive potential targets for the Rams. There are targets we’ve seen mocked to us at #31 along with plenty of newer options. And because the Rams can credibly draft any position on defense along with the offensive line, the width of opportunity here is stark. By the end of the second round, Easterling begins to have teams pegged pretty heavily to their roster gaps.
But with the Rams next up in the mid-90s, needs get murky and the motivation to make sure you get functional players strengthens. Still, the Rams stick with defense with their two third-round selections:
#94.) Virginia Cavaliers S Juan Thornhill
#99.) Miami Hurricanes EDGE Joe Jackson
Thornhill’s a really interesting prospect as a potential replacement for Rams S Lamarcus Joyner. He might not be quite as physical as Joyner is in run support, but he’s a more than capable pass defender as a prospect. Given how Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has helped mold S John Johnson III into a near-Pro Bowl-caliber safety, it would be hard not to get excited at this kind of pick.
Jackson might take a little more working up to get as excited over. He’s a bit more of a heavy rushing edge than that lighter athletic types that many NFL fans are quick to fall in love with. He’d blend well with Rams EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo who has a similar skill set, but Jackson has the build of former Rams EDGE Robert Quinn...just without the explosion.
Easterling doesn’t specify what Day 3 pick the Rams would net in his hypothetical trade with the Giants back at #31, but it’s not a fourth-round selection as the Rams hold just their 133rd overall pick. After plenty of interesting prospects come off the board, Easterling mocks the Rams to:
#133.) Stanford Cardinal LB Bobby Okereke
Hard not to love this kid. He’s a hard worker and a class act. Yanno, Stanford football and all...
Biggest issue is just size. He’s a tweener without the size and bulk to effectively play inside and without the athleticism to play outside. The concern would be Alec Ogletree without the quickness jump, but perhaps he could be molded into a bit of a bigger version of Cory Littleton.
Individually, I don’t have any gripes about these four. But as a foursome, it feels a bit too heavily pegged to the immediate roster issues on defense and doesn’t even pick up a cornerback. Granted, there’s no perfect solution to get offensive line help, a replacement for Suh, linebacking help inside and out, cornerback talent and a safety while hedging the potential future need at tight end all while keeping a late pick ready for a backup QB.
Still, it’s a difficult balance and something about this just doesn’t strike me well.