The Los Angeles Rams are Super Bowl champions. Not “were” and not “will be” but completely ARE the champions of the world (of football). Let that continue to sink in before moving on and accepting that the Rams are ranked 32nd in 2022 NFL Draft capital.
General manager Les Snead traded day one of the draft for Matthew Stafford and day two of the draft for Von Miller, but thanks to players like Stafford and Miller, he will have the comfort of resting his feet on the Lombardi trophy during the initial two days of the 2022 NFL Draft. Los Angeles does have a third round compensatory pick to play with but even the 2018 draft that featured 89th overall pick Joseph Noteboom as the Rams’ top selection will feel “early” as compared to picking about 100th or so this year.
So what are LA Rams fans to do during draft season this year, other than continue enjoying being the best American football team in the world?
I’m sure we can come up with a few ideas.
Enjoy the first round for what it is, regardless of team affiliation
The first round of the NFL Draft has always been my favorite day of the year. Better than Christmas, Halloween, my birthday, and the Super Bowl combined. Because it is always guaranteed to deliver. Even the 2020 NFL Virtual Draft came through in the clutch and gave us a first round of 32 brand new prospects to follow, root for, root against, and remember for all-time:
Joe Burrow was the first pick; Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert went in the top-six; Chase Young entered the league, as did Justin Jefferson; six wide receivers in the first round; the Packers picked a quarterback; and the Raiders once again made us go “What are they thinking?”
I love the first round of the NFL Draft. I remember when they used to hold day one on Saturday and there was a year when I had to tell my first girlfriend at the time, “You won’t be able to get a hold of me for 24 hours.” Back then, day one stretched beyond the first round and I do sort of miss having the draft be an entire weekend, but nothing can rob us of the enjoyment of seeing 32 of the best NFL prospects land with new pro teams all in a span of a few hours.
(Except for when the Patriots are penalized for cheating and lose a first round pick and there are only 31 first rounders, as was the case in 2008 and 2016.)
Retweet for awareness:— The Ghost of Adam Gase ➐ (@GhostOfAdamGase) April 12, 2021
Don’t let anything distract you from the fact that this is the draft the NE Patriots were forced to forfeit their 3rd round pick for cheating in 2019.
Follow the quarterbacks
The 2022 NFL Draft does not feature any quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, or even Baker Mayfield, and that’s sure to drive down interest in day one this year despite the media’s best efforts to make the upcoming class seem like it has a few signal-calling stars.
Liberty’s Malik Willis, Ole Miss’s Matt Corral, UNC’s Sam Howell, and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett are all featured as potential first round picks, while Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder or Nevada’s Carson Strong or Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe could sneak in there too. But in my opinion, the 2022 draft will be a combination of the 2013 NFL Draft and the 2021 NFL Draft:
The 2013 draft was one of the worst QB classes in history and yet that didn’t stop the Buffalo Bills from selecting E.J. Manuel in the middle of round one and the New York Jets from picking Geno Smith at the top of round two. Mike Glennon went in round three, then Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson, and Landry Jones went in round four.
The 2021 draft served as an example that in the current era of football, teams are willing to take even bigger risks on first round quarterbacks than ever before. This is just one person’s opinion, but I think that last year only featured two clear cut first round picks at the position, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. I’m not sure that Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones would’ve been first rounders in previous eras of the draft, but then teams even traded up for Lance and Fields, then Bill Belichick took a left turn by selecting a quarterback as early as he did for Jones.
Malik Willis QB, Liberty University— Sons Of Dynasty (@DynastySons) February 24, 2022
6'1 - 225 LBS 22 years old
-Quick twitch athlete with strong arm
-Highest upside QB in the class
-Combined 40 TDs in 2021
-37 rushing TDs in past two seasons pic.twitter.com/TsqgQ7Eg1U
I would never be so foolish as to discount the possibility that Willis, Howell, Pickett, or any of the prospects couldn’t become future NFL stars. Of course they could be and I hope that at least one of them is (I think Pickett). But we should know by now that talent is finite and high-quality talent at quarterback is rarer than it is at any other position, so the increasing number of signal-callers to be picked in the first round over the last 15 years will not result in more star NFL quarterbacks.
It is only leaving us with more first round busts.
That’s interesting too!
The offensive and defensive line prospects
The quarterback class features a “Strong” but is overall weak. The classes in the trenches features an “Ickey” but is overall pleasing to the palette.
The Rams may not be able to replace Andrew Whitworth with a first round pick, yet you never know when one of these players may land in Los Angeles eventually. Offensive tackles Evan Neal of Alabama and Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu are in the running to go first overall, as are edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan and Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon.
My favorite play from Aidan Hutchinson last season pic.twitter.com/kDNATHymCh— Speak Up (@_SpeakU) February 21, 2022
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the first pick for the second year in a row, something we saw happen recently when the Cleveland Browns picked Myles Garrett in 2017, then Baker Mayfield (then Denzel Ward) in 2018. The Jaguars added Lawrence a year ago, hired Doug Pederson to be their head coach last month, and could choose to give him added protection with Neal or Ekwonu in short order.
The Detroit Lions pick second and after selecting tackle Penei Sewell in 2021, Brad Holmes might choose to go edge rusher this time around—if not trying to trade down for more value.
Along the offensive line, Charles Cross, Trevor Penning, Daniel Faalele, and center Tyler Linderbaum are names we could hear early. Facing off against them on Sundays could be George Karlaftis, David Ojabo, Travon Walker, Jermaine Johnson, Drake Jackson, DeMarvin Leal, and Jordan Davis, among others.
The NFL news cycle does not start during training camp and ramp down in February. It is 365.25 days a year and that means that there are always thousands of people online attempting to fill any gaps with content. Content. Content.
My favorite NFL Draft YouTube channel is Boom or Bust: The Draft Show. These young fellas have been running a draft related channel out of their respective bedrooms and I still think it is better than anything that ESPN or the NFL Network will do on the draft this year. Simply because those companies rarely cover anything that isn’t “first round coverage” until the first round is actually over.
Channels like this one will not simply stop at the first round. Above is a clip of their top 150 prospects in the draft, meaning that at least 50 of those names should be available to the Los Angeles Rams at some point in April.
Yes, 90% or more of NFL Mock Drafts stop at pick 32. Then you’ll find some that do two rounds. Others even do three rounds. The Rams don’t pick until their first compensatory pick in round three, and then they have to wait until they (hopefully) use their fourth round compensatory pick for losing John Johnson III last year. Those mocks are rather useless for Rams fans looking for Rams content, but you will find no shortage of home cooks like the “Boom or Bust” guys delivering draft opinions that dig way deeper than those much more widely recognized first round tidbits.
Look over the draft order
Where do I go to look over the draft order? I use a site called prosportstransactions.com and I probably click there at least once a day for most of the year even though it rarely changes. 2022 compensatory picks HAVE NOT BEEN ANNOUNCED YET and everything you’ve heard about LA’s draft order is speculative. When they’re announced, prosportstransactions will update it.
Consensus Big Boards
The site is actually down as I write this, but I like NFLMockDraftDatabase for finding prospects that go well past the first round of the draft. They have consensus big boards and mock drafts from all over the internet. Type in a player name, a school, an NFL team, and your search will land you somewhere. Hopefully they didn’t go defunct!
As a backup, you can try WalterFootball or DraftTek.
“Later” is not necessarily the same as “Worse”
During his tenure as GM, Les Snead’s third round picks include Cooper Kupp, John Johnson, Trumaine Johnson, Joseph Noteboom, Darrell Henderson, and Ernest Jones. His fourth round picks include Greg Gaines, Brian Allen, Tyler Higbee, John Franklin-Myers (tearing it up for the Jets now). Fifth rounders are rare for Snead, but includes David Edwards and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Sixth rounders are Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Zuerlein, and Jordan Fuller. And in the seventh round, Travin Howard, Nick Scott, and a couple of prospects who could be on the come up, like Ben Skowronek, Chris Garrett, Jake Funk, and Tremayne Anchrum.
Wait out the first three rounds and you never know which players Snead could add from there on out. They could eventually become Offensive Player of the Year.