The NFL Scouting Combine came and went, and free agency has yet to kick-off. That means it’s the perfect time for my first mock draft of the season. Note: It’ll be tough to peg things as they currently stand with all the roster holes and no free agents added yet, but we’ll do our best and can adjust when free agency comes and goes.
Let’s jump into it:
That’s right, we’re starting with a trade right off the bat! The Los Angeles Rams have traded the #31 overall pick (first round pick) to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the #38 overall pick (second round pick) and the #69th overall pick (third round pick).
This trade makes sense for the Rams because they lack a second-round pick, so a minor slide back allows them to coup more draft picks in a draft that’s rich in defensive talent. As for the Jaguars, they could make this move because they’re rumored to be the favorite to land QB Nick Foles, though they could trade back up into the first-round to secure a quarterback that they can groom behind Foles. Not only that, but the first-round selection allows teams a fifth-year option on rookie contracts, making those last few picks in the first round very valuable trade commodities.
Let’s get into the picks:
2.38 - Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida Gators
A lot of people soured on Polite quite quickly after his awful combine performance. First, apparently his interviews went bad. Second, he ran a slow forty at 4.84. Third, he reportedly “faked” an injury and missed the remaining drills. Well, even with all that being said, he’s a fantastic football player. Matter of fact, the bad combine is going to prove to be a blessing in disguise because it’s not often you get such a quality pass rusher this late in the draft, though the Rams could have a shot at Polite because of the combine fiasco. Not only that, but Polite mentioned that the Rams were by far his best interview. Dante Fowler Jr is slated to hit free agency in a few days and the Rams are desperate for upgrades at the edge position, so Polite makes perfect sense in a trade-back scenario.
3.69 - Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt Commodores
Here’s another one of “my guys” who didn’t have a great combine and will likely drop a considerable amount because of it. Williams is a mountain of a corner as he stands 6’4”, 211 lbs, and has 32 1/2” long arms. Williams ran a slow forty (4.64), and unfortunately for him, that’s the biggest question many had about him as a prospect: his deep speed. Now, for me personally, I see Williams as a long-limbed tough and physical competitor who’s sticky in coverage, can click-and-close regardless of his size, and does a good job playing the ball in the air. Sitting behind another long press-man cornerback like Aqib Talib could do Williams wonders. He can learn to fully utilize his length and size, and minimize his issues (speed). Oh, the Rams also had another similar player who ran a slow forty (4.61) who turned out pretty good in New York Jets CB Trumaine Johnson!
3.95 - Darnell Savage Jr, FS, Maryland Terrapins
Savage is a guy who I immediately wanted the moment I watched him play. Fast, great closing speed, relentless, can play the ball well, range for days, as physical as it gets, punishing tackler, and great tackler in space. These are the qualities that you need in a safety in today’s game, and Savage has them in spades. He’s also a senior who tore up the combine, so I’m confident he’s a guy who’s on General Manager Les Snead’s radar. Savage could start from day one and form a fantastic duo at safety with John Johnson III.
3.100 - Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M Aggies
Daylon Mack is exactly the type of player you want at this stage in the draft. He’s limited as he’s not a great athlete nor does he offer a ton of pass rush juice, but he’s a quality run-stuffing defensive tackle who can operate in multiple spots on the defensive line. Mack’s go-to move as a pass-rusher is the bull-rush which can effectively push offensive lineman into the quarterbacks lap. Against the run, he’s a load to move and routinely uses his hands effectively. He’s strong at the point-of-attack and he can stack-and-shed effectively. Mack would be a great option to help stop the run and occasionally rush the passer.
4.134 - Trysten Hill, DT, UCF Knights
Here’s the second part to re-tooling the defensive line as the Rams grab UCF’s Trysten Hill. Hill had a fantastic combine which should elevate him in the draft. He’s a guy who plays with 110% effort and is as relentless as they get. His penetration ability, quickness, and hand usage allows him to be a factor as a pass-rusher who can also knife into backfields to stuff the run.
5.170 - Gary Johnson, ILB, Texas Longhorns
Johnson is an extremely fast and productive linebacker who has the versatility to play the run and blitz just as effectively. Johnson moves at a different speed than everyone else on the field, making himself useful as a depth player and a special teams weapon right out of the gate.
6.205 - Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State Bisons
The Rams had to take a QB at some point, right? Stick is a productive and mobile quarterback prospect. The Rams need a backup QB badly with Sean Mannion hitting free agency, and Stick is the kind of guy you’d like to develop.
7.253 - Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State Spartans
Tyler Higbee is entering the final year of his contract and the third tight end spot on the roster could be had regardless. Oliver at this point would hit a need and give you a player with good athleticism to try and develop.