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3k’s seven-round Los Angeles Rams 2019 NFL mock draft 1.0 delivers roster needs and potential for the future

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First stab.

Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead before Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019.
Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead before Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we’re finally getting close. The 2019 NFL Draft is just two weeks from Thursday, so I figured it’s a fine time to lean in to a possible seven-round mock.

I’ll go with some conventional stuff early. Trades up for quarterbacks. Some unsuspected needs-heavy drafting between 10 and 18. And some balancing out of the presupposed top-12 talents that drop beyond 18 filling in some gaps en route to the Los Angeles Rams at #31.

At that point? Yes, I’m still behind the idea of a trade down. The logic’s right. The setup’s right. The partners are going to be all over.

The question is which prospects are going to attract enough attention from the teams in the top 10 of the second round to warrant jumping up for.

I’m going to go with the New York Giants. In this case, they get leapt in the first for some early quarterback prospects and find themselves having to get in front of the New England Patriots and other trade-eager teams to get a QB of their choice after the run at the top of the first round. That brings the Rams down to #37, but they pick up #95 as well.

But I’ve got the Rams doubling up.

Just like the 2012 NFL Draft when the Rams traded with the Washington Pick Traders to move from #2 to #6 and recoup a major haul and then drop from #6 to #14 with the Dallas Cowboys sending the Rams an additional second-round pick, I’ve got the Rams moving down again from #37 to #42 with the Cincinnati Bengals coming up to take Alabama Crimson Tide TE Irv Smith, Jr.; the Bengals throw the 110th pick, the eighth of the fourth round, to the Rams in the process.

The Rams hold tight at #42 to take:

#42.) Ole Miss Rebels OT Greg Little

Little was a major recruit out of a historic team at Allen HS with two teammates who would go on to play with the Oklahoma Sooners though one initially headed to the Texas A&M Aggies before transferring to Norman: QB Kyler Murray and OT Bobby Evans.

Little headed to Ole Miss as part of their strong 2016 draft class with DT Benito Jones (a to-be 2020 NFL Draft pick), QB Shea Patterson who has since transferred to the Michigan Wolverines (a to-be 2020 NFL Draft pick), S Deontay Anderson who has since transferred to the Houston Cougars (a to-be 2020 NFL Draft pick), and WR A.J. Brown who might end up being a first-round pick in this year’s draft. Little’s father, Derrick Little who was tragically murdered in 2016, was a former football player at South Carolina taken in the sixth round of the 1989 NFL Draft.

He is seen as a ready-made pass-blocking tackle with work to do as a run blocker, but it’s the kind of thing a year on the bench could rectify. This gives the Rams a chance to groom Little as a the successor to LT Andrew Whitworth as OL Joseph Noteboom takes over for OL Rodger Saffold III at left guard.

It doesn’t address an immediate roster gap, but the Rams’ roster is already in strong enough shape not to require immediate talents. And the left tackle position is one of such significant value that ensuring you have appropriate talent available (like a second-year Little ready to transition to in 2020) is one that could justify taking a top-50 pick and sitting them for a year.

The Rams then stand pat through the rest of the second round and into the third with the three picks they have at the end of Day 2.

Time for some defensive additions:

#94.) Mississippi St. Bulldogs S Jonathan Abram

Maybe this is a bit of a fantasy as Abram isn’t likely to fall this far, but crazier things have happened. The Rams have met with a bunch of safeties including Abram. I’d put the chances well above 50% that the Rams have drafted one by the end of Round 3. So I’m going with Abram here with the thought being that the Rams don’t want to risk leaving him out there for picks 96-98.

Abram would make a fine pairing with Rams S John Johnson III. A better fit as a strong safety with better run-stopping skills than pass defense, Johnson led the SEC in tackles by a defensive back. Like the Little pick in the second, there’s no pressure here as Abram can work behind S Eric Weddle for the time being and give Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Philips the luxury of bringing Abram along without overworking him as a rookie. Perhaps it would lead to a midseason promotion similar to the one Johnson enjoyed in his rookie year taking over for S Maurice Alexander in Week 5 of the 2017 season.

Abram has had an interesting journey much like Little. Coming out of high school, Abram had experience both as a defensive back and a quarterback in some wildcat sets. He headed to Georgia where they converted him full-time to a defensive back, but the season was a bust. With a poor offense under first-year Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, he, Head Coach Mark Richt and Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt were all fired. Whether it was the staff changes or the trajectory of that team, something clicked for Abram; he didn’t play in the bowl game and transferred to a junior college. His success at that level made him the top JUCO safety in the country and headed to Mississippi State for his final two years where he starred despite a coaching turnover.

Next up:

#95.) Vanderbilt Commodores CB Joejuan Williams

A massive corner at 6’4”, Williams went up against some of the best wideouts in the country in the SEC and came out looking none the worse.

NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein has a comp that will satisfy a lot of Rams fans: former Rams and current New York Jets CB Trumaine Johnson.

With the Rams’ top four outside cornerbacks in Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Troy Hill and Dominique Hatfield all set to become free agents after this season, adding cornerback talent in this draft is a near-must.

To close out their third round, Rams General Manager Les Snead strikes again cutting a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars who are keen to shore up their offensive line before Day 2 comes to a close. LA sends the 99th overall pick to the Jags for #109 and #178 at the top of the sixth round.

So the Rams wait for Day 3 and get things going in the fourth round with:

#109.) Arizona State Sun Devils DT Renell Wren

The first player taken not from the SEC, Wren is made in the mold of a Michael Brockers. His production was perhaps lacking for his skill set in Tempe, but that’s a job for the Rams’ coaching staff to work on. At this point given his experience at the nose, he’s going to have to add more than just a power bull rush to his arsenal. But with Brockers under contract for one more year, the Rams have time to groom him.

The Rams are in a back-to-back thanks to that earlier trade with the Bengals to go with:

#110.) Wisconsin Badgers OL Beau Benzschawel

My favorite pick in this mock. I’m a big fan of Benzo who comes from a family where pretty much everyone has played football at UW as his brother, father and uncle have all worn the cardinal and white.

He’s just one of those massive athletes that has a home in the modern NFL. He was a tight end and defensive end in high school who also played basketball and baseball, and he would be a fine option to come in and compete with Austin Blythe for the right guard spot.

#133.) Stanford Cardinal LB Bobby Okereke

We saw Okereke mocked to us back in late February. As I mentioned at the time, his size is the primary concern. But at 133, you get a shot at developing an Alec Ogletree at best and at worst a core special teams addition and a defensive fallback a la Bryce Hager.

At this point, we’re getting deep enough into the draft to throw out any concern for roster gaps. Now heading into Round 5, we’re just trying to find guys who can stick on the 53-man roster beyond their rookie seasons.

So this is gonna get funky.

#169.) Boise State Broncos QB Brett Rypien

Many fans will recognize the name as his uncle, Mark Rypien, had a fantastic NFL career winning two Super Bowls and being named MVP in one with two single-season stints with the Rams in St. Louis in 1995 and 1997.

Brett had a prolific career in Boise and is well-suited to grow into a long-term backup role. With Blake Bortles set to hold down QB2 duties behind Jared Goff in 2019, this is a low-risk, high-reward pick that could pay significant dividends beyond this season.

#178.) Stanford Cardinal RB Bryce Love

The Rams opted to bring back RB Malcolm Brown and let C.J. Anderson walk. If they maintain the same lack of commitment to John Kelly, Love would be an interesting candidate to perhaps get in the mix.

He tore his ACL on the final play of the final game of the regular season, so he won’t be heavily involved early. But with the Rams already set up at RB1 and RB2, he’s got time to fit in.

#203.) Buffalo Bulls LB Khalil Hodge

Wait, did I already comp Okereke to Hager? Can I double up here? Wait, I can because I’m writing this and I can do what I want? Great!

Hodge is the opposite of Wren — hugely productive without the skill set to impress. He’ll be a fan favorite wherever he lands. Plus dudes named Khalil coming out of Buffalo tend to do ok...

#251.) USC Trojans LB Cameron Smith

USC has five quality prospects this year in Smith, CB Iman Marshall, OT Chuma Edoga, S Marvel Tell III and LB Porter Gustin. I think there’s a good chance the Rams end up with one of them, so I’ve got them scooping Cam right at the end.


#42.) Ole Miss Rebels OT Greg Little
#94.) Mississippi St. Bulldogs S Jonathan Abram
#95.) Vanderbilt Commodores CB Joejuan Williams
#109.) Arizona State Sun Devils DT Renell Wren
#110.) Wisconsin Badgers OL Beau Benzschawel
#133.) Stanford Cardinal LB Bobby Okereke
#169.) Boise State Broncos QB Brett Rypien
#178.) Stanford Cardinal RB Bryce Love
#203.) Buffalo Bulls LB Khalil Hodge
#251.) USC Trojans LB Cameron Smith

Perhaps a bit more offense than we’ve seen in the expanded mocks, but the Rams are just in a really comfortable spot roster-wise to not have to lean into their immediate roster gaps like on the edge. Yes, it feels a bit weird not to add one here, but the Rams went with Samson Ebukam and Dante Fowler, Jr., last year and the season went pretty well I’d say.

What do you think, Rams fans? Ok leading off with the offensive line again? Do the Day 2 defensive options satisfy? Issues with three trades down?