The Los Angeles Rams don’t like first round picks? Bologna. Or as you would say if you were a Rams backup offensive lineman: Kolone.
In 2021, the Rams employed Matthew Stafford, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd, Odell Beckham, Jr., Jalen Ramsey, Sony Michel, and Aaron Donald. Les Snead loves first round picks and the higher they are, the better they are in the fall.
He just waits until a few years after the draft is over. Sometimes a full 12 years, like Stafford, or 10 years, like Miller.
Los Angeles doesn’t have their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft until 104, but I can guarantee that some of the players who go in the top-103 will have their day with the Rams one day. It may mean that they had a good career somewhere else... it possibly means that they did not. Like was the case with Austin Corbett a few years ago, once the first pick of the second round with the Browns.
Could any of these players fit in with the Rams down the line? Which would you most like to see in SoFi Stadium one day? These are potential top-10 picks in the draft and what might make sense for L.A. in 2025 or 2026 or even 2033.
QB Malik Willis, Liberty
It’s not hard to diagnose why Willis is divisive as a quarterback prospect: There’s a lack of quarterback talent in this draft, especially with regards to arm strength, and he’s one of the few (along with Carson Strong) to really be able to whip it. On the other hand, Willis has a long way to go before he can prove capable of running an NFL offense against an NFL defense (which Willis knows and is willing to admit) and there’s no guarantee that coaching can ever get a prospect anywhere near his ceiling.
The ideal landing spot for Willis is not the Steelers, Seahawks, or Panthers. Instead, his best fit would be a franchise that already has a starting quarterback, similar to the 49ers and Trey Lance a year ago, so I think teams like the Titans, Vikings, or if the Saints are willing to give Jameis Winston a ton of slack in 2022, those would be ideal homes for Willis.
The Rams have Matthew Stafford locked down for five more years and have no short-term or long-term concerns at the position. But as we’ve seen with quarterback movement since 2020, and especially in 2022, you never know how soon a player can be on the move. Willis could pan out for whoever drafts him and still be traded in his prime.
That’s unbelievable, yet clearly true.
Who is the best QB prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft?
This poll is closed
LT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
I’m highlighting Cross over Evan Neal and Trevor Penning simply because he may have the most clarity about his future: Charles Cross is a dominant pass protecting left tackle. Those are the types of words you want to hear with an offensive tackle in 2022. On the other hand, Cross had barely any run-blocking reps in Mike Leach’s air raid offense and his testing at the combine was all over the place.
There are things he does extremely well, and things he needs to work on and refine.
Career pass blocking grade when removing screens/quick game— Smart Football (@SmartfootbalI) April 6, 2022
1. Zach Tom, 96.2
2. Abraham Lucas, 89.6
3. Bernhard Raimann, 86.8
4. Kellen Diesch, 85.2
5. Evan Neal, 78.0
6. Tyler Smith, 76.5
7. Charles Cross, 69.9
8. Ikem Ekwonu, 63.3
The Rams have Joe Noteboom locked down for a few more years, but he still has to go out there in 2022 and prove to be a starting left tackle. L.A.’s decision to sign Andrew Whitworth in 2017 was a franchise-changing move. Like the quarterback position, there’s a ton of variability with regards to who the best offensive tackle and offensive line prospects are in the 2022 class.
From what I’ve been hearing, Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu could be profile as guards at the NFL level, while Cross is fairly entrenched as a pass-blocking left tackle. Neal’s ideal fit at tackle may be on the right side, where he’s dominant in run blocking, and not on the left. Washington State’s Abraham Lucas could be the best sleeper at the position and arguably is the number one offensive lineman in the 2022 class when we’re looking back at it in a few years: he dominated the combine testing and nobody even talked about it.
Who is your favorite offensive line prospect in this draft? Tell me in the comments below.
WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
There are literally DOZENS of wide receivers in this draft who you can fall in love with for one reason or another. The abundance of receiver talent in the draft over the last few years has made it difficult to pull the trigger on a first rounder for some teams... but at the same time, is anyone else as good as Ja’Marr Chase from 2021 or Justin Jefferson from 2020? Sometimes you need to pull that trigger early and for me, Jameson Williams is the receiver who you do that for in this draft.
Jameson Williams reminds me of Jeudy but with Henry Ruggs speed pic.twitter.com/2nyDIJhLLx— NYJ Brick (@NYJBrick) April 6, 2022
Williams tore his ACL at the end of the season, which is unfortunate and a setback for his rookie season to be sure. It’s not something I worry about after 2022 and Williams could have a dominant 10-year career in the pros. His separation and acceleration and control of speed is unlike anything I’ve seen from other prospects in this or most draft classes.
The Rams have added veteran receiver after veteran receiver since Sean McVay arrived—Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Odell Beckham, Jr., Allen Robinson—so it will come as no surprise if some of these first and second round receivers are being scouted by Snead as we speak. Just not for this year.
Who is your “draft crush” at receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft?
Speaking of polls, we have some results from our NFL poll earlier in the week:
- 53-percent of you voted that the Rams-49ers would split the season series in 2022
- 70-percent of you said that the Saints were the best non-Bucs team in the South
- 86-percent of you said that the Vikings were the best non-Packers team in the North
- 52-percent of you voted that the Cowboys would win the East, Eagles at 30-percent
- 61-percent of you put down the Vikings as a playoff team from non-playoff teams
DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
As I wrote not long ago, Thibodeaux is a native of SoCal and a Rams fan. Just like Bobby Wagner before him, it would not be surprising to see him “come home” one day. First he needs to be a top-10 pick and a star for whoever drafts him, which I think will still be a team in the top-three.
I’m looking at Giants GM Joe Schoen as a guy who I think will fall in love with Thibodeaux, so if he doesn’t seem to be sliding, New York could even make a move up. That’s if the Lions are going to let him go, assuming that Aidan Hutchinson goes first overall to the Jaguars. Despite reports of a slide, I can’t see Thibodeaux getting out of the top-five and still think he goes number two overall.
Who is the best "EDGE" in 2022?
This poll is closed
CB Derek Stingley, Jr., LSU
Though there were reports on Wednesday that Stingley “aced” his pro day, I don’t see it. He’s a 6’, 188 lbs cornerback with under 31” arms, ran an OFFICIAL 4.44 (not the 4.33 or 4.37 that’s been reported by many outlets), and his relative athletic score is merely average. A former five-star recruit who was ranked by some as the top player of the 2019 class, then was probably the best freshman in the country that year, Stingley has also dealt with a Lisfranc injury and numerous other lower body ailments.
I can’t find many examples of cornerbacks who fully recovered from the Lisfranc injury, with one case being former Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines.
However, this is only my evaluation of Stingley as a draft prospect. If you compare him to every other cornerback since 2000 with a similar athletic profile and resume and medical red flags, Stingley is at best a second round prospect. When you take into account a dominant freshman season and then give him the benefit of the doubt on his testing, ignoring his average play over the last two years, this is where Stingley gets mocked into the first round.
A former prospect who should give you hope is Tre’Davious White, a poor tester in 2017 and so he fell to 27th overall, but he’s been one of the most dominant corners in the league for the last five years.
Los Angeles has a current need at cornerback but Stingley won’t fall to 104. He might not even get to 14. He might not even get to four! I’ve been wrong in the past, I’ll be wrong again. But I know that Derek Stingley has a lot of players in the league who are fans of his and he should be able to carve out a long career if he can get past his lower body injuries—this is pretty much a nightmare for anyone though. Players always say that for injuries, “Anything upper body is fine” as long as you’re not a QB. It’s the lower body that scares you.
That’s what would scare me with Stingley, but the 74” wingspan and the average speed could keep him from being a dominant outside corner.
Who do you like the most in this class: Stingley or Sauce Gardner? Maybe Andrew Booth? Let us know.
Which top-10 prospect would you most like to see with the Rams one day?