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Game Planning the Draft: Will Rams wait until day 3 for a center?

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Texas A&M Andrew Dieb-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. Tuesday we looked at the third round selections at 69 and 77. Let’s move to day three where the Rams hold selections at 167, 171, and 177 in the fifth-round.

Best Positions Available

The fifth-round will be a good spot for the Rams to add some depth and good developmental pieces to their roster. It’s possible that the Rams could even pick up a fourth fifth-round pick by trading down in the third-round.

These three picks are going to be important for the Rams. It’s going to be a spot where they can potentially add some players in the trenches if they missed on players early on and then there should be some good secondary depth as well.

  1. iDL
  2. iOL
  3. CB
  4. EDGE

With three selections over the span of 11 picks, the Rams will have plenty of options. After losing Greg Gaines in free agency, this might be the prime spot to pickup a nose tackle. Karl Brooks, Nesta Jade Silvera, Colby Wooden, and Keondre Coburn could all be available.

There should be a lot of options on the interior on the other side of the ball as well. Nick Broeker, McClendon Curtis, Jon Gaines, Sidy Sow, and Ricky Stromberg should be options in this area of the draft at both guard and center.

If the Rams want to add to the secondary, there should be some high-upside depth players available over these three picks. Riley Moss and Rejzohn Wright immediately come to mind along with Northwestern’s Cameron Mitchell

Lastly, there will be some edge rusher options. While not day one starters, YaYa Diaby, Nick Hampton, and Ali Gaye would be solid picks at one of these three spots.

Players That Should be Available

  1. iOL Ricky Stromberg
  2. iOL McClendon Curtis
  3. TE Will Mallory
  4. TE Payne Durham
  5. EDGE YaYa Diaby
  6. iOL Jon Gaines
  7. CB Cameron Mitchell
  8. CB Rezjohn Wright
  9. iDL Keondre Coburn
  10. iDL Nesta Jade Silvera

The Rams will have plenty of options with these three picks. Initially, this feels like a great spot to grab a guard or center as well as a defensive lineman and possibly a cornerback. Due to overall position value, it would be a little surprising to see the Rams take a center like John Michael Schmitz at 36. Settling for someone like Stromberg or interior player like Curtis or Gaines isn’t a bad alternative.

At this point in the draft, it’s hard to predict exactly who will be available. There may be some players who drop to this area or others that are expected to go in the fifth-round that end up as undrafted free agents. A player that one team has a third-round grade on, another team may have a seventh-round grade on. Right now, this is all projection to see who may be available a month from now when the Rams are actually on the clock.

Trade Up, Trade Back or Stay Put?

Snead loves himself some sixth-round picks. It would not be surprising to see the Rams trade out of one of these and pick up a sixth or seventh-round pick in the process. However, let’s say there’s a scenario in which the Rams added a fourth fifth-round pick by trading back in the third-round. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rams to potentially package two of these selections and then trade up into the fourth-round.

The Rams could always just stay put as well and control this section of the draft.

Ideally, the Rams are able to trade back here and pick up another late-round selection. Last season, the Green Bay Packers traded back from 171 to 179 and picked up a seventh-round pick from the Denver Broncos. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Snead and the Rams just stay put.

What Happens?

Given that the Rams already have three sixth-round picks and three seventh-round picks, it makes more sense to stay put here and select the talent that is on the board. A trade up could happen, but given that the Rams need players on their roster, condensing picks and moving up seems unlikely.

Sitting in this area of the draft, it feels like a good spot to take a center or guard with the players that will be available. After losing Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson, adding a piece on the defensive line makes a lot of sense here as well.

As with all of their picks, most options will be on the table when the Rams are on the clock. They have needs at almost every position and therefore there is no need to pigeon-hole themselves.

If the Rams still decide to take a tight end, this area of the draft would be a good spot for that. This is a deep draft at cornerback and after losing Jalen Ramsey and not re-signing Troy Hill and David Long, adding another cornerback on day three wouldn’t be a bad idea.

After re-hauling the edge rusher position since the end of last season by cutting Terrell Lewis, Justin Hollins, and Leonard Floyd, they could also add another player at the position here.

With nine picks on day three, the Rams should be able to control this portion of the draft. The Rams will have a lot of dart throws and will need to make sure to hit the board a few times. It’s these picks that will determine whether or not this draft class is a success.