For the Los Angeles Rams, it’s going to be a relatively new experience recently. The Rams haven’t held and/or exercised a first-round pick since taking QB Jared Goff #1 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. As of right now, the Rams still hold their natural picks in every round save for the fifth thanks to the trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars for EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr. So for perhaps the first time since the Goff deal, it’s worth legitimately paying attention to how things shake out heading toward the first round of the 2020 draft.
It’s with that in mind that we can take a look at ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr.’s early 2020 big board (ESPN+ subscription required).
Unlike most mocks at this point, Kiper doesn’t have Alabama Crimson Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa at the top. And he’s right to. He still has him a bit high for me at #4, but Tua’s a fantastic prospect nonetheless. I’d have him in the teens right now, so I’m hardly a detractor. I just think people are overlooking some flaws in his game because he has EVERYTHING around him. And for Rams fans who have waded through the siren’s wails of dropping the “system quarterback” moniker on Goff, they should easily be able to identify the support Tua has around him and why that might help paper over his skill set issues. Speaking of, Kiper has Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy atop his big board with WR Henry Ruggs III at #22. Alabama just saw their 2018 starting running back, Josh Jacobs, become the first RB drafted in the 2019 draft 13 picks after their starting left tackle, Jonah Williams, got drafted. Suffice to say, Tagovailoa had an incredibly strong level of talent around him in 2018.
One other reason I’m not big on pushing the idea of Tua going first overall? There are plenty of other very good quarterback prospects at this point. While Kiper has Tua at 4, he slots Oregon Ducks QB Justin Herbert at 10 and Georgia Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm at 18. Throw in Washington Huskies QB Jacob Eason and Stanford Cardinal QB K.J. Costello, and there are just tons of options to tempt at the top of the draft. Bear in mind that a year ago, I’m not sure there was a single analyst picking Oklahoma Sooners QB Kyler Murray to win the Heisman Trophy and go #1 overall.
A couple of prospects I like for the Rams in Kiper’s board.
LSU Tigers S Grant Delpit (#2)
I love him. He’s also #2 overall which makes sense. Being good and drafting late is hard on the soul.
Stanford OT Walker Little (#7)/Georgia OT Andrew Thomas (#9)/Iowa Hawkeyes OT Tristan Wirfs (#17)/Washington OT Trey Adams (#24)
Three of these teams have their quarterbacks highly thought of. Amazing how protection helps boost quarterback assessments...
But with Rams LT Andrew Whitworth heading into his final NFL season, the Rams are likely to explore options in the 2020 draft as a potential successor. Yes, the 2020 free agency period could play in here as well. Plenty of other left tackle prospects as well like Notre Dame Fighting Irish OL Liam Eichenberg, Ohio State Buckeyes OL Thayer Munford and Louisville Cardinals LT Mekhi Becton.
And I’ll put it out there as an early feeler, but Wisconsin Badgers C Tyler Biadasz looks the part of the late-first OL prospect that has populated the last couple of years. That would certainly put him in the Rams’ sightlines at least this early on.