The Rams do not pick until the second round, where they have the 52nd overall pick. By the time they’re on the clock, 51 of the best players will be off the board and the Rams will be working overtime to find someone who can make an instant impact as a rookie. After all, that’s what a team wants from their top draft pick.
The Rams need a left tackle, one to eventually take over for Andrew Whitworth who is a spry 38 years old. They could also use another cornerback opposite Jalen Ramsey and an extra edge rusher if Dante Fowler Jr. isn’t kept by the team in 2020.
With those needs in mind, here are the “winners” at the combine who may have tested their way into the Rams’ short list.
OG/C Matt Hennessy
Hennessy was a pleasant surprise during Friday’s offensive line workouts a lesser known player out of Temple. He’s spent the weeks leading up to the combine training with some of the best prospects under the watchful eye of heralded offensive line coach Duke Manyweather and it showed during the on-field drills and his impressive agility numbers. Hennessy finished second among the entire offensive line group in both the 3-cone drill and the short shuttle, posting a 7.45 and 4.60, respectively.
Matt Hennessy going through the “weight” drill. Measures COD skills and overall fluidity. pic.twitter.com/5Dc0LcXD1o— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) February 28, 2020
The former Temple Owl can play either of the three interior positions so the Rams could afford to move him wherever they don’t need Austin Blythe. In the 2018 season, Blythe had plenty of success at guard so I would think it’s best for the team utilize him there. Hennessy could slide right in at center with those elite agility numbers of his.
CB Noah Igbinoghene
The son of two olympic-caliber athletes from Nigeria, Igbinoghene was a top-25 wide receiver recruit in the country before he signed with the Tigers. After contributing mainly as a kick return guy during his freshman year, he made the transition to cornerback prior to the 2018 season and went to start 9 of 13 games. In his first year at the position, Igbinoghene finished with 50 tackles, one interception, and 11 passes defended while adding a kick return for a touchdown.
As a junior this past season, he started all 13 games but finished with some lower numbers across the board. His final stat line was 42 tackles, seven passes defended, and another kick return for a score.
I picked Igbinoghene because I think physical, almost street fight-like play style would be a perfect complement to Jalen Ramsey on the opposite side of the field. He loves to use his hands at the line of scrimmage and he’s made it a past-time to make receivers scratch and claw their way around him. You also love to see defensive backs be heads-up enough to play always play through the hands of the receiver. Many defenders are just okay with sticking an arm up and hoping the ball gets deflected. The best defenders know where to look and keep their focus.
Igbinoghene should also see his value rise based on the fact he can contribute as a kick returner or as a gunner on coverage. A lot of coaches will tell you that the fastest way to sticking on a team is through specials teams. I think he’ll have a leg up on others in that department.
EDGE Alton Robinson
The 6’3, 264-pound Robinson has come the longer route to the NFL after spending some time at Northeast Oklahoma A&M during his freshman season. He was an All-Conference performer after racking up 14 sacks, good for third in the country.
Syracuse took a chance on him and he repaid them in full with three productive seasons. He started 9 out of 13 games and totaled 30 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, and 5 sacks. As a junior, he was named a Second-Team All-ACC team and the team’s Defensive Linemen of the Year after posting 39 stops, 17 tackles-for-loss, and 10 sacks. In his final year, Robinson set a career-high in tackles with 46 but managed just 9.5 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks, and 3 passes defended.
We've got a live one, folks. Alton Robinson is GOOD. pic.twitter.com/KLcPChGicQ— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) July 16, 2019
With a 4.64 in the forty-yard dash, Robinson was one of the fastest edge rushers at the combine. His best traits are his suddenness of the snap and a surprisingly sudden change of direction when tracking ball-carriers around the line of scrimmage. His speed allows him to make plays on the backside of plays which means offenses will have to account for him on every play, regardless if they’re running in the opposite direction. You can’t ever have too many players with a high motor and that’s the type of guy you’ll be getting in Robinson.