Finally. We made it. The 2019 NFL Draft is here.
The high point of the 2019 offseason comes tonight as the NFL’s weakest rosters are offered a chance to be remade while the NFL’s best rosters...are also allowed to get better. Yeah, that’s how it goes.
So with so much certainty in the top...two picks and not much thereafter, here are my three things I’m certain (I’m not really certain of these) the Los Angeles Rams will do in the draft ranked by certainty.
1.) The Rams will take a safety before Round 4.
This is my lockiest lock of the Rams’ draft. It’s more of a lock than Missouri Tigers QB Drew Lock.
Eric Weddle should be a fine late-career bridge. At some point, we need to develop a spectrum for these though. Certainly, LT Andrew Whitworth should be at one pole — a late-career veteran who can still perform at a high level among the best at his position. Perhaps OLB Connor Barwin is at the other pole. Where Weddle, LB Clay Matthews and DL Ndamukong Suh fall on that spectrum? Let’s hold off on that for now.
But beyond Weddle who might only give the Rams one year of service, the Rams could need a pairing for S John Johnson III. And given the Rams’ predilection for not meeting market value for their defensive backs with Johnson scheduled to be a free agent after the 2020 season, the Rams don’t have anything cemented at safety for the long-term.
Given the quality of the safety class in this year’s draft and the long, long, long list of visits the Rams have extended to various safety prospects this year, this is my top lock for what I think will actually happen over the next three days.
Not sure who. Not sure exactly when. But taking a safety before Round 4 when things open up on Day 3 with the 103rd overall pick? I’m willing to put the pencil down and use ink for this one.
2.) There will be trades
It’s Lester P. Snead. Cmon.
On one hand, you’ve got the motivation to trade down from #31. And consider the caliber of player we’re talking about there with Snead’s own comments:
The benefits of trading back would be, can you acquire an extra mid-round pick? The way we painted the picture – if you trade back, can you get an extra player like a (WR) Cooper Kupp, a (S) John Johnson (III), a (T) Joseph Noteboom, (C) Brian Allen, a (WR) Josh Reynolds – some guys that we’ve gotten in the third and fourth (rounds) – (OLB) Samson Ebukam, (DL) John Franklin-Myers. The key there is those are people who had a role here and it’s up to us if we do that, to still draft right and develop right.
If we can trade down from 31 to still get a quality prospect in the top 50 and add a player of that caliber? Yeah, I take about 0.1 seconds to make that call.
Beyond that though, we know Snead likes to shop. A lot. Actually now as I type this, this should actually be #1. But out of fidelity to transparency and my own integrity, I’ll leave it at #2 since this is how I wrote this out.
But let’s be real. Trades are going down.
#3.) Todd Gurley’s knee will affect the Rams’ approach
Ugh. The damn Patella Novella.
Let’s hope it’s not at #31. Maybe it’s in the first three rounds. But nothing came out of the Rams’ 2018 season with more impact than the status of Gurley’s knee.
Gurley averaged 21.25 carries per game in the first eight contests in 2018. The likelihood he will average anywhere near that workrate in 2019 is much closer to 0% than 100%. How the Rams mitigate the decrease? TBD. It could be more passing which was the preference in the second half of the regular season. It could be involving others from the RB depth chart which was the preference in the playoffs, though the subject of that preference wasn’t preferred enough to keep around.
But if the Rams aren’t comfortable with the current RB depth chart supporting either (or both) of those two options, a pick might be mandatory at some point. And at what point might depends on Gurley’s knee.
Given how unwilling the Rams have been to be truthful and/or sincere about his knee and how unwilling or unable Rams media have been to get to the bottom of the story, the proceedings of the next three days are the best piece of evidence since Gurley’s limited participation in the last two games of the Rams’ season to cluing us in as to how the Rams feel about his longevity.