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NFL Draft: Why the Rams should be drafting Best Player Available instead of Need at 104

Who should Les Snead be targeting at 104?

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams could have competitions in camp this year for the chance to start at right guard, edge rusher, strong safety, cornerback, punter, and potentially significant roles at linebacker, receiver, and backup tight end. So should Rams general manager have that in mind when he’s making his first pick in the draft next Friday?

There’s not much evidence to suggest that Snead will be looking for 2022 starters when he’s making picks next weekend.

Even if the Rams do decide to draft an interior offensive lineman with pick 104, there’s not a great chance that he would beat out Bobby Evans, Coleman Shelton, and Tremayne Anchrum to start between Brian Allen and Rob Havenstein. There is certainly a chance, but it is not a good one. Therefore, if the Rams were to select someone like Zach Tom or Luke Fortner in next week’s draft, it could well turn out to be a fantastic choice for L.A..

But not necessarily in the short term. Sean McVay is not known to give out starting jobs to rookies, with few exceptions. So if the Rams are not likely to use any of their draft picks as starters, why should L.A. be drafting for “need” at any point in the draft?

This could also explain why the Rams have only drafted one offensive lineman in the last two years, despite regular churn among the interior starters in that time as well as the inevitable 2022 retirement of Andrew Whitworth. Joseph Noteboom has essentially been a backup for his entire four-year career and yet he has been signed to be L.A.’s starting left tackle for the foreseeable future. Brian Allen spent most of his first three years on the bench and is signed to a three-year contract as the starting center now.

So like Evans (third round, 2019) and Allen (fourth round, 2018), the Rams could address the offensive line, but it’s probably only if Snead believes that he is also the best player available. If not very close to the best as compared to maybe someone at a position that is already crowded or taken for a long time, such as a quarterback or a wide receiver... though nothing is truly off the board.

Not on the board until pick 104, the Rams only have so many options and rookie starters—though Jordan Fuller and Cooper Kupp are among the exceptions—won’t likely be found in round three and later. That doesn’t mean that L.A. can’t draft a position that they happen to need. But drafting for need also won’t guarantee that McVay sees that player as filling the need in September. If a guard ends up sitting for a year or two to develop or because he’s blocked by someone else, then what’s the difference between a guard or a tight end? Or a guard or a receiver? Or a guard or free safety?

Anything could be on the table.

I went over the options at pick 104 laid out by Venie Randy Soares in a new video and podcast for Turf Show Times. Watch here: