It is way too early for a 2023 NFL Mock Draft, but what is of interest is how the LA Rams continue to build their roster via the NFL draft.
The Les Snead and Sean McVay regime has done a masterful job at identifying roster needs before a position need is urgent. They combine that method while also targeting players that can compete now to extend their championship window and diversify their offensive and defensive schemes. For example, picks like Darrell Henderson, Tutu Atwell, Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Van Jefferson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Gaines, Terrell Lewis, David Long Jr, Robert Rochell, and Terrell Burgess have been made with a widened mindset.
They have not been rushed into the fray right away, potentially harming more than benefiting their development. This doesn’t mean they can’t contribute sooner. We saw Joe Noteboom play LG in 2019 and David Edwards play as a rookie due to injury. Jordan Fuller won a safety position in camp. Nonetheless, the vision to groom their draft picks within the first year and a half has paid dividends to complement the top half of their roster.
By now, Snead and McVay are well tuned in their draft philosophy and we may have a little bit of an inside track on what they will do come April 2023, even if that is still nine months away.
And even if those picks may not contribute until 2025.
DL will be #1 or #2 priority
With Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson set to be free agents after the 2022 season, there are not many reinforcements behind them. Bobby Brown III’s stock took a hit after a 6-game PED suspension to start 2022. Future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald will only have two years remaining on his new contract (with his retirement being unpredictable moving forward). A successor will be on Snead’s mind in the next few drafts.
Expect EDGE to be addressed early
Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis will only have one year remaining on their respective deals. Leonard Floyd will be 30 years old and in his 3rd year of a 4-year contract. Chris Garrett and Daniel Hardy are rostered, but their ceilings are seen as limited based on their 7th round selections.
A mid-round WR is likely in the cards
McVay hasn’t been shy in his selection of wide receivers through the NFL Draft. He has pushed the envelope (not to the degree of Kliff Kingsbury) since his hiring in 2017. Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Jacob Harris, and Ben Skowronek all heard their names called to Hollywood. With no WRs taken in the 2022 draft, a confident bet can be placed that McVay continues to inject youth at that position.
Another late round RB
LA is committed to Cam Akers as their feature back for 2022 and 2023. Kyren Williams was drafted this year to be his backup in those respective years. Fortunately, the team has Henderson for 2022, but will likely see his departure after the season, leaving a vacancy on the depth chart. It’s no hiding that the L.A. run game has been banged up since Gurley. Investing through the draft on a low shelf-life position is likely the course of action again.
Higbee’s future with the team beyond 2022, will determine TE selection
Higbee often finds himself in the crossfire on TurfShowTimes. He is appreciated by those that recognize that there has not been a TE in blue/yellow that has produced as much on the field in a long time for the franchise. He is knocked by others that believe his play is inconsistent. For a guy that has logged 85+ percent of the offensive snaps in the McVay era, it is hard to prove that he has not been of value.
He will enter this year looking to further justify his contract. Being partnered with Stafford for a second year provides optimism. His cap hit for 2023 is $7.7 million which ranks 18th in current TE contracts. Based on the market it would signal that Higbee is more likely to stay. But a passive season or a significant injury could force the franchise to make a tough cap decision. The final part of this decision will come to Brycen Hopkins and Jacob Harris’s respective developments.
What will be the #1 positional focus be for 2023?
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