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2021 NFL Draft: 4 more fits for the LA Rams

You know what’s better than ONE Aaron Donald?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Louisiana Tech at Texas Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The LA Rams don’t have a first round pick (I think my fingers are now able to type that phrase while I’m sleeping, and often do) but this is such an exciting year to be “stuck” on day two and three. The prospect pool runs so deep that I truly believe legitimate first round talents are staring us in the face while being given second and third round grades, and some are being pushed back as far as day three.

With picks 57, 88, and 103 on day two, the Rams have plenty of options and they should be able to come away with exciting prospects who will be able to contribute immediately and also make sense for the franchise’s future. That doesn’t mean that the following four player are “needs” necessarily — one of them definitely is — but I think they are all “fits” for what the Rams want to do.

WR Dyami Brown, UNC

Though few agree with Chris Simms that Brown is one of the top-three receivers in this draft, he is at least top-three in one category: the deep threats.

Brown is coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as the top receiver for presumed top 2022 draft pick Sam Howell, and a lot of those gains came via exceptional vertical route running.

The Rams lost Josh Reynolds in the offseason and although they did sign DeSean Jackson, he’s 34 and has missed 75-percent of the last two seasons. His 4.46 40-yard dash is more than a little bit slower than many of the NFL’s elite threats, but his 10’8 broad jump suggests he does possess above-good athleticism.

Some would see taking Brown as an obstacle between filling “needs” but the Rams do need a player who can stretch the defense and that is what he should do best.

C Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater

I will keep plugging Meinerz, one of the first prospects I recall writing about this year, because with the draft now close it appears he could be an option, even in the third round. When the whole process started, it wasn’t clear if Meinerz could elevate his stock towards being the first center drafted and a day one pick but with five days to go there isn’t a single player at the position who appears to be a lock for Thursday.

Despite not playing Division-I football and missing out on 2020 because of a canceled season, Meinerz got high marks for his play in 2019 and was considered by some as the biggest standout at the Senior Bowl.

Meinerz is 6’3, 320 lbs, with 33 3/8” arms and a 4.86 40-yard dash. We know the Rams have shown interest in Meinerz, it is just hard to project now if he is a second round pick or a fourth round pick. It is hard to imagine that LA would let him hit the fourth round with their late third round pick, even if they did draft another center.

But if Trey Lance gets knocked for playing at North Dakota State and missing essentially all of the last year, then so too must we raise some skepticism with Meinerz. Not that there’s anything detrimental about playing against competition that is so inferior to what Meinerz will face in the pros, but certainly there would be a bonus had he simply been playing at Wisconsin instead of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

OLB Joseph Ossai, Texas

If you pretend that the Rams didn’t draft Terrell Lewis last season, or if you just believe that Lewis will never be fully healthy, then certainly a player like Ossai could make a lot of sense for LA. Even given the presence of Lewis, he could still be a great pick.

Ossai, 6’4, 253 lbs, hasn’t played much edge as he was originally an inside linebacker before moving to the outside. As more people notice that his physical traits are indeed quite unique, he has become a popular day two choice in mock drafts and some are even calling him “late day one.”

Edge rusher might seem like a “luxury pick” for the Rams but they did lose Morgan Fox from the front-seven and adding depth to the pass rush is never just a “luxury.”

DT Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech

At 6’3, 284 lbs, there are few defensive tackles like Williams in the draft or the NFL, but one player who can relate is Aaron Donald and there might not be a better mentor in the league for Williams than him. Even if he just follows Donald’s example of how to work his frame and unique athleticism to become a devastating inside pass rusher.

As a matter of fact, Donald might even be able to learn something from Williams, given that the Louisiana Tech draft prospect has better measurables nearly across the board:

Aaron Donald, 2014 combine: 6’1, 285 lbs, 4.68 40-yard dash, 32” vertical, 35 reps on the bench, 9’8 broad, 7.11 three-cone, 4.39 short shuttle

Milton Williams, 2021 pro day: 6’3, 284 lbs, 4.67 40-yard dash, 38.5” vertical, 34 reps on the bench, 10’1 broad, 6.96 three-cone, 4.33 short shuttle

Williams’ draft stock appears to be soaring over the last few weeks and his Donald-like traits combined with impressive college production — 19 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks over the last two seasons from the inside — could get him drafted at least near the first round. If the card was “With the 32nd pick...Bucs...Milton Williams” that would not surprise me. But if teams are scared off by Williams’ lack of size, given that Donald is in the conversation for “Most Unique NFL Player” and that Williams can be found bullied by even some lesser opponents at times, then he might be available in round three or day three.

Taking “another Aaron Donald” might seem repetitive and we know that the first Aaron Donald is probably going to be around for many more years, but what better way for the Rams to give him breaks and to potentially extend his career by having a player who can learn from and spell the all-pro defensive tackle as soon as next season? There are people who like Williams and people who love Williams, but nearly everyone is higher on him today than they were in February.

Could the Rams be one of those teams and would they be willing to house another explosive interior pass rusher over taking a center or cornerback? It’s a move that would be easy to question, but hard to criticize.