ESPN’s Mel Kiper posted his third mock draft on Tuesday and though these picks will be wildly inaccurate—especially after the top-five—as they are for everybody ever year, it does give L.A. Rams fans a chance to dream a little bit more than in past seasons.
Because the Rams have pick 36 in the second round, it puts Les Snead closer to the first round than the team has been since 2019. That year, the Rams still decided to trade down multiple times, not selecting anyone until Taylor Rapp at 61.
Something very similar could play out again in 2023.
Snead wants to see if he can add another day two pick, he may be open to moving down multiple times, and the board between prospect 20 and prospect 50 might not have a huge value difference. The best available prospects who Kiper doesn’t have going on day one show just how much depth could exist in that range.
Here are 12 of them.
EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson
Murphy’s a former five-star recruit who was once considered a top-10 pick, if not top-5, but he didn’t live up to the hype at Clemson. There are still some believers left on Murphy, but not enough to make him a consensus first round pick anymore. Said NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:
He plays with a plus motor and good first-step quickness, but his game isn’t really twitchy or explosive.
Watching Myles Murphy's 2021 tape made me like him a lot more as a prospect pic.twitter.com/q2J7wBbFjk— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) March 2, 2023
Perhaps the Rams could see Murphy as the type of prospect who doesn’t always fall to round two and would take their chances because edge rusher is definitely a top priority.
DB Brian Branch, Alabama
I wrote about Branch on Tuesday because Daniel Jeremiah also has him not going in the first round.
CB Cam Smith, South Carolina
6’1, 180 lbs cornerback with 31.5” arms, Smith has the speed (4.43, 1.49 10-yard split) and athleticism to be an NFL cornerback. But Zierlein notes he “lacks fluidity and acceleration to consistently press and run with speedy downfield targets”. The Rams have Derion Kendrick and Cobie Durant as their top two corners right now, so cornerback must be a draft priority after trading Jalen Ramsey.
CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia
A little taller and a lot heavier than Smith, but faster (4.36) and he’s a former five-star recruit. Said Zierlein:
“However, he is very average at anticipating breaks and transitioning with them to squeeze the top of the route. His physicality in coverage and in run support are big assets in his favor, but there is still work to be done in consistency of coverage. Ringo’s traits will be highly coveted and he has a chance to become a very good NFL cornerback if his route recognition continues to develop.”
Remember that Kelee Ringo started this play blitzing… He can absolutely FLYpic.twitter.com/sHrdECdqmP https://t.co/ftK1thdhzL— Graham Coffey (@DawgOutWest) January 31, 2023
OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
Interesting blend of offensive tackle prospects in this draft class. We could see at least a couple of guys getting first round attention be available on day two and certainly L.A. could stand to get better on either side of their offensive line.
WR Jaylin Hyatt, Tennessee
The top receivers who Kiper didn’t have going in the first round: Hyatt, Josh Downs, Nathaniel Dell, A.T. Perry, and Tyler Scott. But Hyatt may be the only one getting some first round hype.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
As expected, Bijan Robinson is the only first round running back. Whether Gibbs will stay number two ahead of Zach Charbonnet or Devon Achane remains to be seen.
LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas
LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
Sanders was very productive at Arkansas after transferring from Alabama. Simpson has elite athleticism. Would Snead just try to get faster in the middle of his defense?
#Clemson LB Trenton Simpson showed up today at the NFL Combine.— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) March 3, 2023
10-YD Split: 1.55s
A Dynamic Athlete at LB who’s going to be a nice selection in the late 1stpic.twitter.com/t0jfSGsqB8
DT Mazi Smith, Michigan
Best known for being atop Bruce Feldman’s “freaks” list.
Size ☑️— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 21, 2022
Strength ☑️@mazismith checks all the boxes, and that's why he topped @BruceFeldmanCFB's annual Freaks List.@BTNJourney spotlights the @UMichFootball DT's freakishness ⤵️.
EDGE B.J. Ojulari, LSU
Ojulari’s draft stock seems to have a range from top-10 to here. Ojulari had 16.5 sacks over three seasons at LSU. Ojulari is 6’2, 248 lbs, with lots of length (34.25” arms) but not insane athleticism. His brother is Azeez Ojulari of the Giants.
QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Chris Simms ranked Hooker as his QB3 ahead of Anthony Richardson and Will Levis, which isn’t something you have to agree with—it just goes to show that there’s no pure consensus on this QB class after the top-two. Hooker is 25 and he tore his ACL last year, but if you can just get past those two things then he has a lot of the qualities that teams would look for in a starter.