As we close out the work week, I thought it might be useful to circle back to a three-round mock from earlier this week by CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson that posed an interesting setup for the Los Angeles Rams: not trading down and taking an offensive lineman at #31 who’s not N.C. State Wolfpack C Garrett Bradbury.
As I mentioned yesterday in our look at ESPN’s dual mock from Mel Kiper, Jr., and Todd McShay, Bradbury and Clemson Tigers DL Dexter Lawrence lead the way in the SB Nation Mock Draft Database:
So the idea of taking an offensive lineman isn’t all that radical.
But with Wilson sending Bradbury to the Baltimore Ravens at #22, that option’s off the board. Instead, Wilson mocks the Rams to take:
#31.) Kansas State Wildcats OL Dalton Risner
Risner was one of the best college right tackles last season and he did nothing to change that with solid performances at the Senior Bowl and the combine. He’ll likely make his living as an interior linemen in the NFL but he could play tackle too.
Risner’s an interesting prospect with a history at center and right tackle. Obviously with the Rams having extended Rob Havenstein through the 2022 season, the right tackle spot is sealed up. Perhaps though, Risner would offer viability as an option at right guard to compete with 2018 starter Austin Blythe or to compete with C Brian Allen for the starting center job vacated by John Sullivan’s release or as a potential left tackle successor for LT Andrew Whitworth. The Rams’ offensive line is undergoing such overwhelming turnover (three 2018 Week 1 starters gone next year at a minimum) that the position flexibility that Risner offers makes it tough to know what the plan would be with him out of the gate.
We know that kind of flexibility is something that attracts Rams Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Aaron Kromer as he mentioned in the most recent episode of Behind the Grind:
Episode Two: Trust the Process
Andrew Whitworth is motivated as ever for season 14. Meanwhile, after quiet rookie seasons, Brian Allen + Joseph Noteboom are ready for year two. “Behind the Grind” Episode Two: Trust the ProcessPosted by Behind the Grind on Thursday, March 28, 2019
You know, [Joseph] Noteboom played left tackle at TCU, was drafted as a tackle prospect. But what we prefer to do in our offense and at this organization is move our offensive linemen around if they’re not a starter, because you dress seven guys on gameday. So, you need somebody that can backup both tackles. Maybe the backup center can be the backup guard as well.
On to Round 3.
Down at 94, Wilson addresses the position with the least long-term security on the roster: cornerback.
#94.) Texas Longhorns CB Kris Boyd
Boyd is a physical player who can sometimes get in trouble when he’s out of position, drawing defensive pass interference penalties. He ran an impressive 4.45 40 at the combine.
He reminds me of a bit shorter version of former Rams CB Trumaine Johnson. The roster gap is obvious so no issue there. Just so many options for mid-round corners. Hard not to love many of the prospects at this point.
Five picks later?
#99.) Miami Hurricanes DL Gerald Willis
Willis is a hand-in-the-dirt, interior defensive lineman who has a quick first step and will fit in nicely along the Rams’ D-line.
With DL Ndamukong Suh gone and DL Michael Brockers likely playing his last season as a Ram, the roster gap’s clear. Willis is an interesting prospect though for a couple of reasons. His tape is pretty strong and has an obvious plus natural skill set as one of the top recruits in the country in 2014 for the Florida Gators. But Willis’ behavior has to be a legitimate red flag that teams will have needed to probe to really find out what makes him tick. He ended up only spending a year in Florida with plenty of controversy as he missed two game for undisclosed off-field incidents and even got in a fight with the backup quarterback over some shoes. He transferred to Miami and had to sit out 2015, but after playing in 2016 the team announced Willis would “take a leave of absence” from the team in July only for him to return to participate on the scout team for the entire year. His 2018 season was the closest thing to making good on his potential, but his collegiate career was ultimately completely derailed by his off-field resume. While his previous teams’ preference to keep things private is their decision, there’s no way NFL teams would bring him on board without having full details on what went on in Gainesville and Coral Gables.
Overall though, it’s an interesting mock. The roster gaps are fine, but is it too need-heavy? Would you have an issue as a fan taking a guy like Willis without knowing what went on even if you knew that the Rams knew everything?