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Rams focus shifts to edge rusher in latest mock drafts

UCLA’s Laiatu Latu has become popular target for Rams in latest mock draft

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USC v UCLA Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The focus for the Los Angeles Rams has quickly shifted from top-10 draft pick to NFC wild card spot after back-to-back wins against the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. Los Angeles now sits one game out of the final playoff spot and with a win against the Cleveland Browns and loss by the Green Bay Packers to the Kansas City Chiefs, they will officially be back in the playoff picture as the seventh seed.

With that being the case, it’s becoming less and less likely that the Rams are able to draft one of the top two offensive tackles in the draft in Olu Fashanu or Joe Alt. They could always attempt to trade up, but it would be a hefty price tag. This has been evident in the latest mock drafts. The shift has moved from offensive tackle to edge rusher.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released his latest mock draft on Wednesday. With the 14th overall pick, Brugler had the Rams taking Laiatu Latu, an edge rusher from UCLA.

“Latu doesn’t have ideal length, and I don’t expect him to test off the charts, but some rushers just know how to get after the quarterback — Latu ranks No. 1 in college football with 64 pressures. A pass-rush duo of Latu and Byron Young would be a great foundation for the Rams’ defense.”

Pro Football Network’s AJ Schulte also had the Rams taking Latu. Said Schulte,

“The Rams’ secondary has begun to turn things around in recent weeks, and the team is making a surprising playoff push. However, L.A.’s pass rush is still a work in progress trying to find non-Aaron Donald players. Donald is the only player on that team with a double-digit win rate, and they’re having to rely on scheming guys open to get to the quarterback. Laiatu Latu is an elite technician as a pass rusher with a bag full of pass-rush moves and a constantly hot motor.”

It’s worth noting that in Brugler’s mock draft, he had Fashanu and Alt both going in the top five. If the Rams were to take an offensive tackle, one option could be Amarius Mims who Brugler had going 16th overall to the Buffalo Bills.

If the Rams continue to win, they will obviously continue to fall down the draft board. That’s not a bad thing, especially if they are chasing a playoff spot. The net of prospects who the Rams were focused on two weeks ago has changed significantly. With the potential of drafting in the first round for the first time since 2016, the player that they select will be a big decision for Les Snead and Sean McVay.

It will be interesting to see if the Rams do end up targeting an edge rusher in the draft. With over $70M in cap space, it would not be a surprise if they spent big on the position in free agency with players like Brian Burns, Josh Allen, Josh Uche, and others set to have expiring contracts.

Latu to the Rams would be a popular selection as he’s from California and currently a star player on the UCLA defense. If the Rams don’t spend on the edge rusher position in the offseason, Latu would still be a huge improvement and could pair nicely with Aaron Donald, Kobie Turner, and Byron Young.