After 12 weeks of play, the Los Angeles Rams would be getting the third overall pick in the draft next year, if only they didn’t trade it to the Detroit Lions. There’s no reality in which the Rams have both Matthew Stafford and the third overall pick, so it’s a moot point to argue “What they would do there” because we only know the version of the Rams that does not own the pick anymore.
If the Rams didn’t trade two first round picks for Matthew Stafford, then they might not have won the Super Bowl last season and we have no idea what their actual needs—or draft pick order—would be in that alternate reality.
Instead, we look at the reality that we have: L.A. is still very close to having a draft pick that has the same value as a first rounder.
If the Rams had the same record as the 3-9 Chicago Bears right now, then L.A.’s current pick would actually be second, not third. If the Rams end up with the pick that is second overall, and they aren’t tied with any other teams, then they will end up picking 33rd overall; because the Miami Dolphins forfeited their first round pick, there are only 31 first rounders in 2023.
So actually if the Texans finish with the worst record, then they will kind of have three first round picks: First overall, the pick they get from the Browns for Deshaun Watson (right now, 11th overall), and their first pick in the second round, which would be 32nd overall.
At 3-8 and playing out the season short-handed, the Rams could well end up with a top-five pick in the second round and in striking distance of the first round. L.A. so rarely picks in the top-50 that this is like new territory for Les Snead—and it would be virtually new territory for Sean McVay, as the highest pick during his era is Gerald Everett at 44th overall—and it’s anyone’s guess what the Rams will do with that pick.
Trade it for a veteran?
Just stick and pick?
All we know is that the Rams have needs, a lot of them, and the value of hitting on a draft pick could do wonders for a roster that has bloated contracts for aging players and few avenues back to prominence that don’t include finding significant upgrades.
What position should the Rams draft with their first pick?
The Rams signed Joe Noteboom to a three-year deal and most likely are encouraged by the play from A.J. Jackson. But teams have to prioritize the left tackle position over any other on the offensive line and all that McVay knows is that he doesn’t have Jackson. Or Noteboom. Or Andrew Whitworth. Or even Ty Nsekhe! On Sunday, he had A.J. Arcuri.
If a proper left tackle falls to the Rams, then that gives them a lot of options with Noteboom, Jackson, and Arcuri. Someone like Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski or Ohio State’s Paris Johnson would be rated as the best in an all-around weak class compared to some others.
L.A.’s best option, if they feel they can draft a starting caliber left tackle, could be to release or trade Noteboom and move Jackson inside to guard as a replacement for free agent David Edwards.
Penn State’s Olumuyiwa Fashanu or Georgia’s Broderick Jones could also land in this area.
Michael Hoecht’s place at the head of the table on Sunday only emphasizes how dire the edge rushing situation is for the Rams. Leonard Floyd is a disappointment, Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis are not the answers. The draft can yield huge returns at edge rusher, even in the late first round area, as that’s where names like T.J. Watt and Chandler Jones were found. Should L.A. focus here next?
If Will Anderson and Myles Murphy are out of range, then someone like Georgia’s Nolan Smith could be the answer. Florida State’s Jared Verse, Army’s Andre Carter, LSU’s BJ Ojulari, and Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah might also fit the bill.
It’s a need, a huge need, and I don’t imagine any Rams fans arguing against the process of getting Aaron Donald some help.
We ran through some QB options on Monday. The absolute LEAST that Snead can get away with next year is only finding a new backup quarterback for Matthew Stafford. The most he can do is consider options at the top of the second round or trading back into the first round for a future face of the franchise.
Offensive coordinator Liam Coen is well familiar with Kentucky’s Will Levis and if Levis’s struggles with interceptions cause him to fall out of the top-15, that’s where the Rams could take something like that into consideration. The QB class is all over the place, maybe that means a great one is slipping under the radar.
If Bijan Robinson falls out of the top-20, would that entice the general manager who picked Todd Gurley to go after a running back? Adding a dominant running back to the backfield in 2023 could do a lot for the Rams and we saw it once before when McVay re-energized Gurley in 2017-2018.
There are a lot of needs on both sides of the ball, including cornerback. How much longer can the Rams count on Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill? Even if one of Derion Kendrick, Robert Rochell, or Decobie Durant were to pan out, L.A. couldn’t stop looking there.
Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez or South Carolina’s Cam Smith could be an answer.
For the foreseeable future, the Rams are starting Van Jefferson and Tutu Atwell. There was a time not long ago that seemed almost ideal! They were both second round picks. But Snead needs to make a better second round pick the next time he scouts receivers.
Even if Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson return next season—their contracts say that is probably what will happen—the search for help continues. UNC’s Josh Downs, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, or Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt might be intriguing at the top of the second round. It all depends and this is another position where current draft projections have no consensus. Will Jordan Addison or Kayshon Boutte go in the top-15? Or fall to the second round? All possibilities there seem to exist.
Guard and Center
Maybe the highest priority to help the team immediately, but how much will a guard move the needle for a team that looks as bad as any in the league right now? The Rams should take bigger swings unless they’re blown away by somebody at this position. This is not considered a strong class for interior offensive linemen yet.
This could be a sleeper pick, as L.A. has made a lot of regrettable moves at safety and still has a huge need. However, like guards and centers, will this move the needle a lot? Boise State’s J.L. Skinner is a name to watch.
Tyler Higbee isn’t it and yet there’s NOBODY else to challenge him. Even when Roger Carter finally got his shot, the first thing he did was hit Sean McVay in the face. After Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, a potential top-20 pick, who is next? Tight end is usually a position best served with a mid-round pick, however that hasn’t helped with regards to Everett, Jacob Harris, and Brycen Hopkins.
Which position do you want the Rams to draft first?
And which name at that position?