It’s July 8. Let’s mock.
One thing that’s a bit strange? The lack of quarterbacks early despite this shaping up to be a fantastic QB class. As they suggested:
The teams most in need of quarterbacks for the 2020 season fall to the back of the draft (Saints, Patriots, Chargers), however Cincinnati and Tampa Bay could potentially move on from their incumbents.
Except as we see every year, teams desperate for QB talent and under pressure after losing end up diving in for QBs early even if their skill set has apparent holes. So to only have one quarterback in the first 27 picks seems, well, unrealistic. Granted, we’re talking about a mock in July, so let’s not crave much realism here. Just, yanno.
On to the Rams at 32:
#32.) Wisconsin Badgers C Tyler Biadasz
Aaron Donald led the Rams in sacks last year with 20.5 in 2018 but the next guy in line was Ndamukong Suh, who is now a Buccaneer, with 4.5. They signed Dante Fowler to a one year deal over the offseason to prove his worth. Not one single pass rusher was taken by Los Angeles with any of there eight picks. Veteran Clay Matthews was signed from Green Bay but his best year’s are far behind him. Matthews has not recorded a double digit sack season since 2014. There was some excitement for 2018 draftee Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to step into a premiere pass rushing role so his time on the field may expand in his second pro year.
With all of that being said, there are far too many question marks surrounding the group of edge rushers. Aaron Donald can only play at the level everyone is used to for so long and needs someone else to step up. Bolstering the pass rushing unit should be priority one looking ahead at 2020. The top edge rushers should be gone by the time the Rams are on the board but names like Yetur Gross-Matos, Terrell Lewis, and Kenny Willekes are intriguing ones to keep track of.
Yes, the write-up leans into the roster gap on the edge which is severe, but the pick on its own is fine. I’ve mentioned Biadasz before. He’s a fantastic prospect. And if C Brian Allen doesn’t impress in his first season as a starter (and given how important the offensive line is both in the running game and for QB Jared Goff), this is certainly going to be sensible.
On to the second round. Fantastic running backs here. Interesting late quarterbacks. And some solid cornerbacks culminating in the Rams at 64:
#64.) Ohio State Buckeyes CB Jeffrey Okudah
Odukah came out of HS from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area as one of the top defensive back recruits in the country. And while he’s yet to break through in Columbus, there’s one conspicuous hole on his resume.
He has yet to record a single interception.
It’s not the biggest issue as he hasn’t had the playing time to make it worrisome, but the guy is due. And in what could be a breakout season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts this to bed early in 2019.
#96.) Michigan State Spartans ILB Joe Bachie
I’ve mentioned Bachie before on this site (here and here). He’s a fine prospect who has fine production. I’m interested to see his senior year and if there’s any growth to his game. He’s got some physical limitations, but could get stronger. That would certainly help if he’s going to be an everydown ILB in the NFL.
#128.) Oklahoma Sooners QB Jalen Hurts
Interesting pick. Hurts could really have a favorable season for his draft stock having transferred to OU and working in similar conditions to what Jared Goff enjoys at this level: head coaching brilliance on the offensive side of the ball, plus blocking and great receiving options. That would certainly make him sensible backup option for the Rams, though his 2019 season could be one that pushes him higher than this as a potential starter for a QB-needy team that models themselves after the Rams (Cincinnati and new Head Coach Zac Taylor?). The Rams will need to bring in a QB2 this year though. While the Rams lucked into a pretty perfect one-year buy on QB Blake Bortles, seeking a QB2 option on the market can be expensive. The draft is more sensible and offers more of a system fit.
And as we move on from the mock, remember that the Rams’ 2020 fifth-round pick went to the Jacksonville Jaguars as part of the trade for Fowler, Jr.
So onto the 6th:
#192.) Illinois Fighting Illini EDGE Bobby Roundtree
At this point, I’m just hoping Roundtree can return to football after a swimming accident two months ago required immediate spinal surgery. He’s got a six-month rehab schedule in front of him just to repair his spinal cord. So football’s out in 2019 for sure. Here’s hoping if nothing else he’s back to 100% next offseason. He’d be a RS junior in 2020, so if he eventually is cleared for football, he can work his way back in at the collegiate level before needing to jump to the NFL before making sure he’s physically capable of playing again.
#224.) South Florida Bulls RB Jordan Cronkrite
Cronkrite transferred from Florida after the 2016 season. After sitting out 2017, he beasted in 2018 averaging more than 6 yards per carry with more than 180 carries. A strong 2019 might boost him higher than 7th-round stock though.
It’s a fine mock, but it does leave me wondering about edge rushers. I think the obvious asterisk here could be the potential for the Rams to land a big fish in free agency in 2020 though the edge class isn’t shaping up to offer much beyond Houston Texans EDGE Jadeveon Clowney.
In any case, it’s a mock in July. It’s a good baseline for learning many of the top prospects looking toward 2020 at this point.
And a good reminder that football is really just around the corner.