The Los Angeles Rams will have 11 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. With needs all over the roster, any and all options will be on the table when the Rams are on the clock. With the current state of the Rams, it can be argued that the 2023 draft is the most-important of the Les Snead era since 2017.
With the stakes that are on the table, I thought it be a good exercise to “game plan” the draft. What will be the best positions available at each Rams selection, who will be the five best players available, should the Rams make a trade or stay put, and then finally conclude what the Rams might actually do with the pick.
We start in the second round with the 36th overall pick.
Best Positions Available
The 36th overall pick is the most important draft pick that the Rams have held in quite some time. This draft pick very well could set the tone for the remainder of the draft. Drafting inside the top-50, the Rams should have the opportunity to select an impact player which is something that Snead hasn’t done in awhile.
As mentioned, with the current stat of the Rams, all options will be on the table. There likely won’t be a position outside of kicker and punter that isn’t considered with this pick. WIth that said, at this point in the draft, there will be some positions that will be worth taking more than others. Below are the three best positions that will be available.
With a need at edge rusher, the Rams should have their pick of the second and third-tier of edge rushers. Felix Anudike-Uzomah should be available along with Will McDonald IV and Bryce Young. BJ Ojulari and Andre Carter could also be options.
If the Rams are looking for an offensive tackle, they will have a good selection here as well. Dawand Jones could fall out of the first round along with Darnell Wright. Behind them, second-round options such as Matthew Bergeron and Jaelyn Duncan may be available.
This is a deep cornerback class. There will be players available on early day two that would have been first-round cornerbacks in other classes. Clark Phillips III is one of those players along with Deonte Banks. Other second-round cornerbacks available will be Tyrique Stevenson and Garrett Williams.
Five Players That Should be Available
- iOL John Michael Schmitz
- EDGE BJ Ojulari
- EDGE Will McDonald IV
- OT Matthew Bergeron
- CB Clark Phillips III
The Rams short-list of players at 36 will likely me much longer than five players. However, playing it safe, these are five players that should last until the 36th overall pick and will certainly be players that the Rams consider drafting.
Schmitz would have an immediate impact in the middle of the Rams offensive line if drafted. There’s a chance he doesn’t last until 36, but with the positional value of center, he could drop. If the Rams are looking for a tackle to build around, Bergeron is a solid option at the top of the second round.
Edge rusher feels like the most likely position here for the Rams to take. Ojulari or McDonald IV would be edge rushers that the team could build around and develop as premiere pass rushers heading into 2024.
Lastly, with Jalen Ramsey gone, the team needs a cornerback that can hold their own on the outside. The ideal scenario would be Deonte Banks out of Maryland. However, someone like Phillips III could be on the table and is more likely to be available at the top of the second round.
Trade Up, Trade Back or Stay Put?
The Rams are in an interesting position at the 36th overall selection. All options and positions are on the table. With that said, there are scenarios where they absolutely could trade up, trade back, or simply stay put.
Most likely, a few first round players should fall to them at 36. The Rams will have the option to either select one of these players or trade back to accumulate more draft selections. Having that in mind, it’s important that the Rams don’t trade themselves out of that talent. It’s important that they draft a high-impact player with their first pick and they are more likely to do so at 36 than if they were to trade out of the top-50.
If the Rams are able to stay in the 40-45 range in a trade back while picking up a fourth-round selection. a trade back makes sense. Still, staying in that top-40 is probably more beneficial.
It’s hard to see a scenario in which the Rams trade up. The only scenario in which it really makes sense is if one of the quarterbacks like Will Levis were to fall. The Rams would have the all-important fifth-round option on a quarterback prospect. It may also make sense if Deonte Banks is available at the end of the first round and the Rams feel like they need to get him.
The best option at 36 for the Rams is for them to stay put. While they could accumulate more draft picks in a trade back, they do need high-end talent and that will be available at 36. It’s best for the Rams to stay put at 36 and pick the best player available.
When it comes to the draft, the Rams are extremely unpredictable. They typically select players that draft experts expect to be available later or take a position that not many expect. While edge rusher, offensive line, or cornerback would be the preferred option at 36, it would not be surprising to see McVay push Snead to draft a running back or wide receiver.
With how deep the draft is at center and cornerback, the most likely positions right now are possibly edge rusher and offensive tackle at 36. As mentioned previously, Ojulari, McDonald IV, or Anudike-Uzomah would be fantastic options off of the edge to replace Floyd. Offensive tackles like Bergeron or Duncan to give the Rams some stability at the position also make a lot of sense.
My best guess right now is that the Rams stay put at 36 and take an edge rusher. This gives the Rams a young edge rusher that will be ready to take the next step in 2024 when the team is ready to compete again.