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Les Snead eyes college football’s elite at 2022 Senior Bowl

Which players could stand out to the Rams at Saturday’s Senior Bowl?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Exterior Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Not all the Los Angeles Rams have their full concentration on preparations for Super Bowl LVI, as general manager Les Snead and the scouting staff will be glued to the action taking place across the country, in Mobile, Alabama.

The 72nd Senior Bowl, arguably college football’s most prominent all-star game kicks off on Saturday at 11:30 PST. NFL scouts have also had the opportunity watch prospects work out in agility, situational, and live-hitting drills in the week leading up to the game.

Since the union of Snead and Head Coach Sean McVay in 2017, the Rams have mined talent from the Senior Bowl 16 times to stock the roster and 12 of the 16 are still on LA’s squad. Snead has said he likes the format and seeing Rams prospects playing against other top seniors.

Senior Bowl draftees from the Snead/McVay era

2021 - Ben Skowronek WR, Robert Rochell CB, and Alaric Jackson T

2020 - Van Jefferson WR, Terrell Burgess S, and Brycen Hopkins TE

2019 - Greg Gaines DT

2018 - Joe Noteboom T, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo E, Jamil Demby T

2017 - Cooper Kupp WR, John Johnson S, Gerald Everett TE, Josh Reynolds WR, Tanzell Smart DT, and Sam Rogers FB

Deciding the Rams draft needs in 2022

When trying to forecast the Rams roster needs going forward there are many variables. Which free agents will be re-signed? Who will retire? Will there be salary cap releases? As the draft season plays out, the holes that need to be filled will show themselves and fans can narrow down their favorites.

In this years draft, LA may be best served by drafting the best player available rather than trying to fill holes. Snead has proven successful in filling roster weaknesses via the trade and combing the waiver wire for both stars and role players.

As for the Senior Bowl, with the Rams first draft pick being at #101, prospecting must begin with a tier of players who fall into that area. Interior offensive line, linebacker, and cornerback are all always in demand and can offer value at LA’s draft position.

Here are some players to watch

Chris Paul-Tulsa- 6’3 1/2” 324 lbs

Powerfully built tackle that will most likely be moved inside. He’s shown versatility by playing up and down line in school. Plenty of physicality, but not a mauler. Sets a good base against power moves, good feet for a big man and easily moves to the second level. Long arms, 80” wingspan, and a strong hands/punch.

Cade Mays-Tennessee- 6’4 1/2” 321 lbs

A high school five-star recruit. Five year starter, starting at Georgia before transferring to Tennessee. Another versatile piece, he took snaps at center in Senior Bowl workouts. Mays has had success in multiple offensive schemes. He has battled injuries, but when heathy, was the best lineman on his team and played at highest collegiate level (SEC). He has shown the ability to pull, move out to the second level, and anchor against bullrushes.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Dylan Parham- 6’2” 313 lbs

Signed to Memphis as a tight end, Parham was a four year starter. Team needs moved him to tackle and then finally to guard. During Senior Bowl workouts he got plenty of solid snaps at center. Athletic and agile with a strong lower body, he is reportedly moving up draft boards. A nice mix of light feet, power and nastiness. A nice fit into the Rams zone running game.

Darrian Beavers- 6’4” 252 lbs

Long, physical, and instinctual. Beavers has a solid football IQ, and can offer value charging downhill to plug gaps in the run game, blitzing the quarterback, and pursuing from the backside. He has the spatial awareness and tackling ability to play in the Rams zone passing coverages. He’s can add value on special teams, being a regular STer at Cincinnati.

Damone Clark- 6’4” 239 lbs

An explosive athlete, he has the qualities of a defensive back in coverage. Imagine a more physical version of Cory Littleton. He has the speed in man coverage to blanket tight ends and running backs, both inside and outside. He a good tackler but is more of a pursuit guy than a thumper. He’s not soft, but will have to grow into a true middle backer. If he tests as well at the NFL Combine as expected, the Rams will have to grab him at #101, if he’s still there.

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Demarri Mathis- 5’10 1/2” 197 lbs

Aggressive and physical in run support. Strong enough to play outside and quick enough to play in the slot, he can press, turn and go or backpedal with equal ability. His eyes, football instincts, and quick reflexes project excellence in zone coverage. Nice wingspan and alpha male mentality. According to The Draft Network, “With the third-lowest completion percentage allowed since 2019 heading into the fall-higher than... (Derek)Stingley, (Andrew) Booth and a slew of potential future first-round corners—the floor for Mathis continues to rise as the weeks churn on”.

Sterling Weatherford- 6’3 1/2” 230 lbs

A safety by trade but moved to linebacker for the Senior Bowl. Expected to run the 40 in 4.5 seconds, he’s got experience as a single high and two-deep safety. He’s also covered out of the slot. Weatherford has the physical attributes to reroute tight ends and the speed to run with backs. Has the long strides to cover sideline to sideline in coverage and pursuit of runners. Very strong in the box, can fight blocks and set an edge. He’s got a high motor and good film on blitzing techniques.

Who are Rams fan watching?

There are many other fine players to watch today, but these players will all probably be around in the middle rounds. They all have one thing in common, they are all physical, have high football IQ’s and hot motors. They all also have background on special teams, all qualities the Rams value. What this years draft lacks in deep star power, it makes up with middle round, developmental opportunities. Who are Rams fans looking forward to scouting in today’s Senior Bowl?