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Game Planning the Draft: Will the Rams try to trade back in the third round?

With two picks in the third round, will Rams try and trade back?

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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.

On Monday we started with the 36th overall pick. Let’s move to the third round where the Rams hold selections at 69th and 77th overall.

Best Positions Available

The third round will be an important one for the Rams as these selections will be their final two picks in the top-100. It will be a good opportunity to build on what they did earlier with the 36th overall pick.

With 11 selections, the Rams are in a spot where they can let the draft come to them. There’s no need to force anything or make any rash decisions. With two picks eight selections apart, the Rams should be able to find two contributing players. Below are the three best positions that will be available

  1. Safety
  2. CB
  3. RB

These two picks are so close together than the best positions available should remain about the same. The third-round will be a good spot to take a safety as there will be plenty of starting caliber players available. Sydney Brown, Christopher Smith, and JL Skinner could be options here.

This is a deep draft class at cornerback. Teams will be able to get a starting caliber cornerback or contributor in the middle portions of this draft class. The third-round is no exception. Kyu Blu Kelly, Garrett Williams, and Jaylon Jones will be players that the Rams will have to consider.

Lastly, with the value of the running back position, the third round might be the spot to take one if the Rams want a potential starter or someone who can compliment Cam Akers. It’s very possible that Zach Charbonnet falls to the third round. Tyjae Spears, Sean Tucker, Kendre Miller, and Tank Bigsby are players who could be selected in this area.

Five Players That Should be Available

  1. S JL Skinner
  2. RB Tank Bigsby
  3. S Christopher Smith III
  4. WR Tyler Scott
  5. CB Jaylon Jones

Honorable Mentions

  1. CB DJ Turner
  2. S Sydney Brown
  3. LB Ivan Pace Jr.

The Rams will likely have a long list of players that they are considering at these two selections to keep all of their options over. However, playing it safe, these are eight players that should last until the 69th and 77th overall picks and will certainly be players that the Rams consider drafting.

This pick feels like a great spot for a cornerback or safety. Players like JL Skinner or Christopher Smith are both versatile and could come down and play in the slot. Jaylon Jones is 6’2, but has good speed and does well in match coverage schemes.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams go offense here. Tyler Scott brings explosiveness to the wide receiver position and would give the Rams a vertical threat. Meanwhile someone like Tank Bigsby is a physical runner that the offense is lacking. Tyjae Spears is another running back that would have to be considered.

Would the Rams go linebacker here? I’d be a little surprised, but there will be some good value with players like Pace Jr. or even Dorian Williams out of Tulane.

Trade Up, Trade Back or Stay Put?

This is a spot where a trade back makes the most sense. Last season, the Denver Broncos trade down from 75th to 80th and picked up an extra fifth from the Houston Texans. The Las Vegas Raiders got the same for trading down from 86th to 90th.

The Rams already hold three fifth round picks, but if they could pick up an extra one, it may give them ammo to trade up into the fourth round if that’s something that they want to do. The goal here should be just to close the gap between the 77th overall pick and their next selection almost 100 picks later at 167. Even if the Rams are able to pick something up in the 130s, that would be considered a win.

A trade up is always possible. As mentioned, the Rams do have those three fifth-round picks to work with. They could trade up from 69th, using one of those fifth round picks and then trade back from 77 to get that selection back. I’d be very surprised if the Rams did trade up from one of these two spots.

At the end of the day, the Rams could always stay put as well and that wouldn’t be a bad option. They would get two third-round players who would have potential to be contributors in their rookie year.

Trading back or staying put feels like the best options with these two picks. We’ll have to wait and see what the Rams actually end up doing.

What Happens?

The Rams are a very hard team to predict when it comes to the NFL Draft. The two pick in particular seem even more difficult to predict as all options will be on the table. This selection will likely depend on what the Rams do at 36. If they don’t take an edge rusher, they would almost have to take one at this selection. If an edge rusher is taken, then a secondary player is probably the most likely position at one of these two spots.

Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams go offense here either. A tackle will certainly be an option along with tight end, running back, and wide receiver. However, a secondary player, whether it be cornerback or safety, seems very likely. There will be plenty of different ways that the Rams can go at both positions and players who could contribute early on in their careers.

My best guess here is that the Rams do try to trade back if they can and then take a secondary player if they didn’t take a cornerback at 36. This would give the Rams a contributing player immediately and then close the gap between 77 and when they’re next on the clock at 167,

The Rams haven’t gone with three consecutive defensive picks under Sean McVay. One of these picks, even in a trade back, will likely be used on offense. That could be a wide receiver or running back depending on who is available. If the Rams want a swing tackle that they could develop, that may also be an option here.

With only three picks in the top-100, the Rams need to be able to nail those with everything that rides on the success of this draft class.