First there was the last minute, come from behind win over the Baltimore Ravens 20-19, now an upcoming meaningful game versus the dreaded San Francisco 49ers and then gearing up for a playoff run. Could there be a better way to start the new year for Los Angeles Rams fans?
It’s time to start fine-tuning draft boards, considering where the Rams need to apply their draft capital and which college players will fit into the teams schemes and needs. Barring any major trades, LA will only have three of their own 2022 draft picks, but are expected to receive an extra four picks as compensation for their losses in free agency and a single pick as redress for the Detroit Lions poaching of Brad Holmes, the Rams former Director of College Scouting, as their Executive Vice-president and General Manager.
What are the Rams picks?
- Round 3, The compensatory pick for losing Brad Holmes.
- Round 4, Comp for losing John Johnson.
- Round 5, LA’s original.
- Round 6, Three picks for losing Samson Ebukam, Gerald Everett, and Troy Hill
- Round 7, Two picks, the Rams original and their return from the 2019 Aquib Talib trade.
Where are LA’s needs?
The Rams have 45 players on contract for 2022, according to Overthecap. It is my contention that WR Odell Beckham is a free agent and RB Xavier Jones was waived with an injury settlement, setting the number of players under contract next year, at 43.
- QB’s Matthew Stafford and Bryce Perkins- It’s Staff’s show and Perkins has shown that the NFL stage, although he’s only played in preseason, is not too big for him.
- RB’s Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Jake Funk, and Raymond Calais- 2021 was an injury plagued season for this whole unit. Is Akers back to form? If not, RB becomes a need.
- WR’s Robert Woods, Coper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, and Bennett Skowronek- A solid group but after the top three, things go downhill.
- TE’s Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Jacob Harris, and Kendall Blanton- This years TE draft pool doesn’t have any real stars but is fairly deep with competent players. Hopkins and Blanton have not impressed in their chances.
I know we're all excited about the QBs headed to Mobile for the #SeniorBowl but can we talk about that TE group?!— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 4, 2022
This group could have a huge week! pic.twitter.com/JFRM6fV9qX
- OL’s Andrew Whitworth, Rob Havenstein, Bobby Evans, David Edwards, Tremayne Anchrum, and Alaric Jackson- Always position’s of need, particularly on the interior in 2022.
- ST’s Johnny Hekker and Matt Orzech- No way the Rams can draft a replacement for Matt Gay. Hekker’s salary could make him expendable.
- DL’s Aaron Donald, A’Shawn Robinson, Greg Gaines, Bobby Brown, Marquise Copeland, and Michael Hoecht- Top three are stellar, but after that, Brown is limited to potential and Hoecht and Copeland are mop-up guys.
- E’s Leonard Floyd, Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis, Chris Garrett- Certainly a position of need and plenty of possibilities in the draft pool.
- ILB’s Ernest Jones and Christian Rozeboom- 2022 class is deep with ILB’s, OLB’s and hybrids. It all depends on how much the Rams staff thinks Jones has grown and will continue to.
- S’s Taylor Rapp, Terrell Burgess, Nick Scott, Jordan Fuller, and Antoine Brooks- Definitely room for additional talent and some deep speed.
- CB’s Jalen Ramsey, David Long, and Robert Rochell- Almost have to expect a CB taken early, even at that, the Rams daft capital may mean a player that needs some development.
Before re-signing any the team’s free agents, there is a strong argument for drafting the “best player available” with all picks. You could probably pass at WR and QB, but all other units could use an infusion.
Who else does a draft board?
In past seasons, I have researched into 300+ college players and made a traditional compilation, concentrating on the areas that I thought the Rams need, players that may drop into LA’s sphere, for whatever reason, and players that the Rams might trade up for.
For two reasons, this season I’ve decided to spend less time on the consensus top 100 and concentrate on the middle and late rounds. First, The Rams won’t have a pick until right around #100 and don't really have the capital to trade up very far, if at all. Second, with LA’s top heavy active roster and six picks in the last three rounds, it is crucial for them to find a couple of contributors.
The contributions don’t have to come in the form of becoming stars or even starters. Just being able to replace and mirror some rotational or situational players at a salary savings would be considered a success.
So I’ll put it to the forum. Tell us about YOUR draft board, where do you think the Rams areas of need are, and/or who do you like in the 2022 draft.
The 2022 NFL Draft will be held at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, on April 28-30 in Paradise, Nevada. There is a nice list of other important dates concerning the draft, NFL business and college all-star games on nflcountdown.com.