With the NFL Draft one month away, speculation is rampant. The Los Angeles Rams hold the 36th overall pick which would be their highest selection in the Sean McVay era if they actually pick from that spot.
Sitting at 36 overall, the Rams have no choice but to let the draft come to them. How the first-round shakes out will determine what the Rams do at the 36th overall pick. Every season there is a player who surprisingly falls out of the first-round. Who will that be this year? Is there a surprise player or two who could rise into the first-round?
Given how much the Rams first pick hinges on what happens in the first-round, I thought it might be a fun exercise to go through some best and worst case scenarios.
What actually happens is probably somewhere in between these possibilities. However, with 11 total picks in the draft and needing to start strong at 36, let’s get started.
The Rams will certainly have a handful of favorite prospects that they can only hope fall out of the first-round. Sitting at 36, they will be sitting at a great spot to potentially still land some first-round talent.
If you had to put together a list of these players, it would likely have to include cornerback Deonte Banks out of Maryland, edge rusher Will McDonald IV from Iowa State, Tennessee wide receiver Jalen Hyatt, and then two of the top interior offensive linemen in Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence and Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz.
It’s unlikely that all of these players are available at 36, but is there a scenario where two of them are on the board?
Let’s start with the pipe dreams. Banks and Hyatt have been two players consistently mocked in the first-round. Is there a scenario where at least one of those players is available?
Hyatt is a long-shot, but play the Dumber and Dumber “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” clip, because there’s a small chance he does fall. This bodes extremely well in the case that DeAndre Hopkins is traded to a team like the Buffalo Bills who select at 27.
Things could get dicey in the 20s. The Los Angeles Chargers at 21, Baltimore Ravens at 23, New York Giants at 25, and Bills at 27. The Seattle Seahawks at 20 have also consistently been mocked a wide receiver.
The best chance for Hyatt to fall is for there to be an early run on quarterbacks while teams value other positions outside of wide receiver. Unlike years past, this isn’t a strong wide receiver class at the top. It’s possible that teams target the top cornerbacks, edge rushers, and offensive tackles and then try to find value at the wide receiver position later on in rounds two and three.
After that, it’s all about how the listed teams above have the receivers ranked. The Rams would need to hope that these teams prefer Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba over Hyatt.
This is exactly what happened in Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock draft. Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network and James Fragoza of Pro Football Network also released a mock with Hyatt falling out of the first round.
Banks falling to the second-round is where it gets complicated and is a scenario that, while possible, is very unlikely. Banks is going as high as the top-20 in some mock drafts. Even if the Maryland cornerback makes it out of the top-20, the Baltimore Ravens at 22 and Jacksonville Jaguars at 24 are huge threats to take Banks.
The best chance for Banks to make it to the second-round is first for him to make it out of the top-20 and secondly for some of the big-name cornerbacks to fall. Gonzalez won’t make it out of the top-10, but if someone like Joey Porter Jr. and Devon Witherspoon could fall to around 16 to the Washington Commanders, it would be very beneficial.
From there, it’s still an uphill climb. Do the Ravens value a top edge rusher after losing Calais Campbell and find depth at the cornerback position later? The Rams would then need a team like the Jaguars to prefer one of the other cornerbacks more i.e. Kelee Ringo from Georgia.
If all of that happens, there’s still no guarantee that a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers or Indianapolis Colts don’t take Banks at the top of the second-round. However, if Banks does get to round two, the Rams at least have a shot.
Will McDonald IV has been picking up some first-round steam, but it’s still more likely he falls to the second-round. Torrence and Schmitz could both go in the first-round. However, the Rams can hope that due to position value, these players fall to the early second-round.
Additionally, the Rams can hope that enough first-round talent falls that they are able to trade back and accumulate more picks while not trading themselves out of talent. If not however, it’s best that they stay put.
The worst-case scenario for the Rams is that all of these players are gone. The Buffalo Bills select Jalen Hyatt at 27, Deonte Banks goes to Baltimore or Jacksonville, and the Kansas City Chiefs take Will McDonald with the 31st overall pick and to make matters worse, Felix Anudike-Uzomah is taken by the Philadelphia Eagles at 30.
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the Seattle Seahawks solidified the interior of their offensive line by taking O’Cyrus Torrence at 20 and John Michael Scmitz was taken by the New York Giants at 25.
This would take a lot of the Rams’ potential targets off of the board before the second-round even began. Of course, there would still be talented players available. They could take BJ Olulari or another cornerback like Julius Brents.
However, it would be hard for them not to be a little disappointed if the first-round shook out like the scenario above.