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How roster gaps for the teams before and after the Los Angeles Rams at #31 will determine the Rams’ fate in the 2019 NFL Draft

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A look at the factors involved.

Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, Mar. 2, 2017.
Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, Mar. 2, 2017.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams are currently scheduled to make their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft with the 31st overall pick, but rumors are already heating up that the Rams could trade down.

On one hand, a trade down would require a team to really fall for someone available there and jump the other interested teams for that prospect. On the other, the teams in front of the Rams will get to determine who comes off the board before the Rams are even on the clock.

Let’s look at both sides and the roster gaps those teams are looking at using this week’s Monday mock from Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar and ESPN’s Todd McShay’s recent roster gap piece (ESPN+ subscription required).

The teams in front of #31

#25.) Philadelphia Eagles

Kadar: Safety, offensive line, running back, defensive line
McShay: Linebacker, cornerback, running back, guard, offensive tackle

Well, we’re off to a confusing start, but that’s how things go sometimes in the NFL. Clearly, the Eagles have a wide array of options here. In terms of the effect on the Rams here, the gaps on the offensive line are of import.

#26.) Indianapolis Colts

Kadar: Defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle
McShay: Defensive end, wide receiver, defensive tackle, safety, cornerback

Much stronger alignment here on roster gaps with Kadar and McShay agreeing on four of them with a D-end as the top need. For the Colts, much will depend on this exercise from their standpoint; the availability of top edge prospects here is key. Should the Colts take a defensive back though, that’d pull one off the table for the Rams.

#27.) Oakland Raiders

Kadar: Edge, cornerback, running back, linebacker
McShay: Edge, cornerback, linebacker, tight end, safety

Man, the Raiders sure could use a player like EDGE Khalil Mack...

The real story here is that this is currently set to be the Raiders’ third pick of the first round. So by the time they’re on the clock at 27, assuming their draft order holds, they might have already knocked off their top roster gaps.

#28.) Los Angeles Chargers

Kadar: Offensive tackle, defensive tackle, linebacker, quarterback
McShay: Offensive tackle, defensive tackle, guard, safety, quarterback

With such a strong DT class, gotta think they’re just taking what comes to them here and then having to put more effort into the rest of the draft.

#29.) Kansas City Chiefs

Kadar: Edge, cornerback, defensive tackle, center
McShay: Cornerback, wide receiver, edge, safety, inside linebacker

Both Kadar and McShay offered their roster gaps before the Chiefs’ trade with the Seattle Seahawks for EDGE Frank Clark, so that likely bumps that off the list. So while cornerback leads the way a year after trading CB Marcus Peters to the Rams, the Chiefs are (a) good enough overall and (b) have such a good quarterback that they can afford any luxury pick here.

#30.) Green Bay Packers

Kadar: Tight end, safety, defensive line, offensive line
McShay: Wide receiver, safety, tight end, linebacker, cornerback

I wonder if the Packers are a candidate to trade up if one of the two Iowa tight ends falls past #24 or so. If not, they’ve got a ton of work to do on that roster. The Packers went 6-9-1 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers throwing 25 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions...


So for the Rams (assuming they have at least one quality deal to trade back), to stay at 31 would require a prospect they really like at a clear roster gap.

If it’s offensive line, you’ve got tackle and guard needs for the Eagles and Chargers. The center class lines up well at the end of the first, but it might only be the Chiefs among these teams interested.

The Rams are sure to be interested in a safety, but every team in this group is listed as having a gap there. Whomever the Rams would covet enough to stay at 31 stands a good chance to be gone by then.

Not sure the linebacker class lines up well at this point in the draft for what the Rams could be in for.

And at defensive tackle, the Rams’ need to fill that roster gap isn’t anywhere near as severe as other teams’ (which is a good example of why I’m really against calling them “roster needs”, FWIW). So I’m not sure they’re as motivated to take anyone there as much as other teams will be, though you’d have to put a huge, Nashville-sized asterisk there with Mississippi St. Bulldogs DT Jeffery Simmons a possibility.

On to the teams after the Rams.


#32.) New England Patriots

Kadar: Edge, tight end, defensive tackle, wide receiver
McShay: Tight end, wide receiver, defensive tackle, edge, quarterback

If we’re looking into favorable scenarios here for the Rams, consider the idea that the Patriots might be looking for an heir for Tom Brady. If other teams feel that out and they’re interested in a QB prospect, they’d have to jump the Pats to get in on him.

I mentioned the Iowa tight end hinge with the Pack. Might hold here too, but I don’t know that the Pats are the kind of team to trade up. Especially given the roster gaps they’re facing over this offseason and next with Brady nearing his NFL end.

#33.) Arizona Cardinals

Kadar: Interior defensive line, wide receiver, tight end, slot cornerback
McShay: Quarterback, guard, cornerback, wide receiver, tight end

If we assume the Cards take Oklahoma Sooners QB Kyler Murray with the top overall pick, they’ve got plenty to choose from here. The cornerback class comes into play here with some sincerity. The Cards have so much work to do on their roster though that you could put almost anything down here. Not sure they’re going to motivate any teams to trade up to leapfrog them at least not to the degree the Pats could.

#34.) Indianapolis Colts

Kadar: Defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle
McShay: Defensive end, wide receiver, defensive tackle, safety, cornerback

Pretty clear agreement between Kadar and McShay on the roster gaps for Indy. The Colts got this pick from the New York Jets in their trade last year to move up to take QB Sam Darnold. As a 10-win team to get a second pick in the top 35 of the draft...yeah, the Colts are doing pretty well for themselves.

They could help the Rams in a major way if they haven’t gotten their edge rusher yet. With the Pats and Colts both keen to get someone at the edge this weekend, a team might have to move up to 31 should a well-liked edge prospect drop that far.

#35.) Oakland Raiders

Kadar: Edge, cornerback, running back, linebacker
McShay: Edge, cornerback, linebacker, tight end, safety

What I just said about the edge again here.

#36.) San Francisco 49ers

Kadar: Safety, edge, wide receiver, cornerback
McShay: Center, offensive tackle, edge, defensive tackle, running back

This is the last one I’ll note here simply because of how unpredictable things get at this point.

The Niners have the 2nd overall pick which they’ll likely use on Ohio State Buckeyes EDGE Nick Bosa, so they won’t be offering any edge threat at #36. The state of their roster opens up things way too wide to provoke a trade up on any specific candidate barring some inside intel.


So once you get to the Niners, teams are likely to stay put through the 40th pick for the Buffalo Bills based on how wide their roster gaps are and the desperation those teams are in to improve. At 41 though, the Denver Broncos come into play. Not surprisingly, we’re already hearing rumors that they might be the ones to jump up to 31.

If you put it in context of the four or five teams picking after 31, you can get an idea of what they might be interested in. And the six or so teams before the Rams give us an idea of how the labor pool might look when the Rams are on the clock.