We've spent quite a bit of time looking at players the Rams might pick at slot 36. While thinking about the very first Rams pick might be fun, that isn't where the meat of the 2023 Rams draft lies. The "real fun" for the Rams (assuming they don't make any trades) comes in a cluster of 6 picks starting in the compensatory section of the 5th round and extending into the 6th round. The first pick in this group is slot 167 and the last one is slot 191. If we wanted to try to preview players who might get drafted by the Rams, that is the area of the draft we really should be focused on.
Some players frequently mentioned on TST are ranked very low by Lance Zierlein. Not that LZ is necessarily "the oracle" when it comes to draft prognosticating (I disagree with his grades on a number of different players), but I do consider him to be one of the major draft experts and I put more weight on his opinions than some of the other experts, because LZ has a strong network of NFL scouts and team executives, so he tends to have a pretty good feel for how NFL teams actually view prospects.
Lets start at the bottom. Keep in mind, there are 259 picks in this year's draft. Max Duggan is ranked so incredibly low that he is one of the worst position players on the board. Most of the players ranked below him are punters and kickers. Alex Ward, one of the long snappers I wrote about, is ranked higher than Duggan. I agree with LZ on this one, Duggan isn't a good prospect.
DTR, the UCLA QB, is only slightly better. He is 264th overall, right on the edge of getting drafted. Cam Peoples is immediately ahead of him. Tanner McKee, the Stanford QB who is a potential 1st round pick per PFF, is 257th. Jake Haener, the Fresno State QB, is 250th. Other very low 7th round types include Ronnie Bell, Puka Nacua, and Evan Hull.
The first pick in the 7th round is slot 218. Prospects ranked below that number include: Bryce Ford Wheaton (220), Nesta Jade Silvera (227), Payne Durham (234) and Trey Palmer (235).
Some of the players who could be in play for the back end of the Rams "cluster" picks include Noah Sewell (183), Roschon Johnson (194), Ronnie Hickman (210) and Keaton Mitchell (214).
LZ also has Brent Laing ranked 177th. SI recently did a profile on him and graded him as an UDFA. Laing played RT at Minnesota Duluth, a Division II program, but probably would slide inside to G in the NFL. If you like smash mouth, mauling offensive linemen, check out the guy's highlight videos. I'm pretty sure he killed about 30 defenders last year, so RIP to all those dudes. I have no idea of he's any good overall. We're not talking about drafting a hockey player, so Minnesota Duluth isn't the first place I'd normally look for NFL talent, but he could be worth a closer look.
The BYU QB, Jaren Hall, is 176th, right in the middle of the Rams cluster. Aidan O'Connell, the Purdue QB, ranked at 172 is also in this range. In some mocks, I've seen O'Connell as a 3rd rd pick. A couple other TST favorites in this range are Zach Harrison (171) and Sydney Brown (170). Both of those guys are also frequently mocked as Day 2 picks. (As an unrelated aside, I also noticed that Adetomiwa Adebawore, who is now apparently viewed as a 1st round pick by several experts, is only ranked 131st overall by LZ, which would make him a late 4th to maybe early 5th round pick.)
At the 167th overall spot, lining up perfectly with the very first compensatory 5th round Rams pick, which is the 167th overall selection, is Texas defensive lineman, Moro Ojomo.
Complete 2020 Domination
Vitea Vea is a mountain of a man, blessed with incredible brute strength. One of the most talented NTs in the league, Vea has a salary of nearly $18 million per season. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft.
Daron Payne from Alabama was the very next selection at 13th overall. An elite prospect, his draft was so high, if you put Payne in the 2023 draft, he might be a top 3 overall pick.
Taven Bryan, the 29th overall pick in 2018, was raw, but so explosive and athletically gifted, he was supposed to develop into a disruptive force and a great pass rushing defensive lineman.
If you missed out on all of those "big fish" 1st round DT prospects, you were all of luck, right? If your team needed a DT, what are the odds you'd find some schmuck in the late rounds who would be competent? What are you going to do, draft a guy from Minnesota Duluth? Maybe a player who is way too small or one who has zero pass rush ability?
Zach Sieler was a 7th round pick in 2018. I wrote about him in the Bresee draft profile fanpost. He played at Ferris State and didn't even make the roster initially as a rookie, but has since developed into a player just as good as many 1st round picks. He had a breakout year in 2020 with 11 TFLs.
Poona Ford was an UDFA in 2018 out of Texas. He was supposed to be too short to be an NFL player. He had a career high 8 TFLs in 2020 and a stellar 81.9 PFF grade.
Falorunso "Foley" Fatukasi was an early 6th round pick in 2018. LZ projected him as a 4th round pick, saying that he was raw, but well built. He had an 81.6 PFF grade in 2019 and followed that up with an 80.1 PFF grade in 2020. According to ESPN stats, in 2020 Fatukasi was 4th best among NFL DTs in run stop win rate. He ranked higher than Daron Payne.
Fatukasi was tied with another DT in run stop win rate in 2020. Who was the guy tied with him? It was Sebastian Joseph-Day, drafted by the Rams in the 6th round in 2018. SJD didn't play a single snap as a rookie, not even on special teams. He wasn't active for a single game all season long. In 2020, SJD had an 80.6 PFF grade. Despite getting hurt in 2021, SJD still earned a lucrative free agent contract to join the Chargers in 2022.
One of my favorite late round DL prospects from the 2018 draft didn't make the cut for this list, but I wonder if he potentially might have had a similar breakout season in 2020 if he hadn't gotten injured. Jullian Taylor from Temple was a 7th round pick by the Niners. Since SF had so much talent up front, he didn't get as much playing time, but in 2019 he showed potential with a 67.9 PFF grade. He graded out better than SJD in 2019. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL late in the 2019 season. That was it for his career, Taylor would never appear in another NFL regular season game after that injury.
A run stuffing DT might be the least interesting type of draft prospect to write about, but it is a necessary role on an NFL defense. You need to win up front in the trenches. There was a very noticeable impact for the Rams when A'Shawn Robinson was healthy and on the field. Players like SJD and Greg Gaines weren't elite pass rushers, but they were good run defenders and important contributors. Is Moro Ojomo the next SJD for the Rams?
Name: Moro Ojomo (pronounced "MORE-oh OH-juh-mo"). Turns 22 years old in August. 5th year redshirt senior.
School: Texas. Finance major. 3 time first team academic all conference team. Plans to become a corporate lawyer after his football career.
3 star recruit from Texas. You're probably wondering how the guy could be only 21 years old if he's a redshirt senior. He enrolled at Texas when he was 16 years old. born in Nigeria, his family moved to California when he was 7, then moved to Texas when he was in 7th grade. His dad is a pastor. His mom is a consultant for the tech industry. Has 2 sisters.
A late bloomer in high school, he didn't begin doing serious weight training until he was a sophomore.
Combine measurements: 6'2 1/2'' tall, 292 pounds, 34 1/2'' arms, 10 3/8'' hands, 83 3/8'' wingspan.
5.03 sec (40 time), 1.77 sec split, 33'' vertical jump, 9'4'' broad jump, 7.45 sec (3 cone), 27 bench reps.
Shrine Bowl measurements: 6'2 1/2'' tall, 293 pounds, 34 3/8'' arms, 10 1/4'' hands, 83 3/8'' wingspan.
Sebastian Joseph Day measurements: Was listed by Temple at 305 pounds in 2017 and 295 pounds in 2016. SJD wasn't at the Combine. At his Pro Day, he measured 6'3'' tall, 299 pounds, 34 1/2'' arms, 10 5/8'' hands, 82 1/2'' wingspan, 4.97 sec (40 time), 1.68 sec split, 31.5'' vert, 9'4'' broad, 7.40 sec (3 cone), 24 bench reps.
At Rutgers, SJD only had a total of 3.5 career sacks. He never had more than 5.5 TFLs in a season. He was 23 years old as a rookie.
Redshirted in 2018. Made 2 starts in 13 games in 2019, 13 tackles, 2.5 TFLs
2020 (10 starts): 21 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, PD
2021 (12 starts): 29 tackles, 3 TFLs, PD
2022 (5 starts, 12 games): 32 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3 sacks
Missed one game due to ankle injury in 2022. In one of the other games I watched from 2022, he appeared to suffer an ankle injury.
A "we, not me" player. Very coachable. Religious (son of a pastor), focused, humble, goal oriented in interviews.
Lance Zierlein 167th overall (late 5th to 6th rd)
ESPN 12th DE, 92nd overall
Drafttek 10th 5-tech DE, 194th overall (6th round)
PFN (Industry) not ranked in top 125
PFF 85th overall. Had 90.6 PFF grade in 2022, 74.9 grade in 2021. A force vs the run.
Shane Hallam 139th overall (early 5th rd)
Brian Bosarge 237th overall (7th round)
Fanspeak draft simulator boards: Bengals (126th); Steelers (138th); CBS (95th); Rigdon (142nd); Shoup (215th); Broncos (137th); Bills (172nd); Diamonds (210th); Draftplex (205th); Packers (110th); Bears (155th)
NFLDB 130th overall
PFN (Ian Cummings): Calm, articulate, studious personality. One of the best players at the Shrine Bowl. Detailed technique with violence and power of an NFL defender. Draft stock rising. Elite combination of leverage and length. Quick 1st step. Overwhelming power and torque. Can absorb combo blocks. Dominant pass rusher with variety of pass rush moves. Sheds run blocks. High motor. Lacks mass. Linear, lacks elite lateral mobility. Hands not efficient or precise. High cut frame. A top 75 prospect. A steal on Day 3. Only 22 years old as rookie.
Big Blue View: Smart technician with a diverse set of pass rush moves. Day 2 prospect. Fits aggressive 1 gap defensive system, but isn't a fit for a 2 gap defensive scheme. Could be one of biggest sleepers in the draft, depending on the scheme fit.
NFLDB: limited pass rush moves. Allows OL to get into his chest. Can't bend the edge as pass rusher. Straight line mover, lacks pursuit range. Average quickness and power, bull rush gets stonewalled. Loses leverage, high pad level. Technician. High motor. Strong finishing burst. Power at POA. Strong core. Excellent instincts. Feel for counters. Rarely on ground. Excellent balance. Quick to find ball.
Lance Zierlein: 5.98 draft grade (average backup, special teamer). Tight lower body, movement lack fluidity. Fights through blocks through upper body power and sheer will, effort. Lower body strength to plow through blocker's edge. Active hands. Counters with force, creates secondary rush opportunities. Plays through the whistle to pursue ball. Mechanical and segmented movements. Tight hips, high pad level. Heavy feet when sliding laterally. Lacks quickness and get off when an interior pass rusher.
Steelers Depot (Josh Carney): Hot motor. Great length. Uses hands well at POA. Natural functional strength. Quick 1st step. Lined up all over DL front. Sets edge. Limited pass rusher with unrefined hands. Limited production as he was part of heavy DL rotation. Tweener. Lacks weight vs double teams. On ground too much. Tight hips. 5th to 6th round projection, a backup and special teams player.
As you can see, the draft rankings on Ojomo are spread out. Some see him as a 2nd or 3rd rd prospect and a potential draft steal. Other experts see Ojomo as a 6th to 7th round pick, a back end of the roster player.
Built low to the ground. A tank, can power through gaps and push his way past offensive linemen. Leg drive to push solo blockers backwards. Can get under the pads of the lineman and win leverage. Able to anchor when playing as DE to set the edge vs run. Can sink and anchor to win at the POA on run plays.
Instant engagement out of 4 point stance. Active hands.
Intelligent player. Like a coach on the field at times, when he sees the offense shift formation or motion, he lines up the other defenders or makes the proper audible to adjust their gap assignments so that the defense is better prepared to stop the run. Smart chip on RB releasing from backfield.
Toolbox of basic moves is complete. Understands how to attack blockers on both run and pass plays, though only on a basic level, not advanced in technique. Rips under to win his gap on runs.
Lined up as both DT and DE, on both 4 man and 3 man fronts.
Had good plays against OL draft prospects. Overpowered Emil Ekiyor from Alabama some reps. Remember how Steve Avila from TCU had some "bad plays" on his tape? A couple of those were because Moro Ojomo was the defender beating Avila. Destroyed Avila on one play with quickness off the snap. Beat Avila with push pull move. Shed Avila on short yardage run at POA. Stacked Avila another time at POA.
A "culture setter" on a team's roster. Some players talk like football coaches. Moro Ojomo is the type of prospect who might someday be a NFL team's president of operations. A good student in finance who intends to become a lawyer, I wonder if someday he could do Demoff's job.
Disciplined reading mesh points, then reacts quickly and changes direction to pursue the ball.
Willing to do a bunch of the dirty work to help out other defenders. Takes out multiple OL so that looper is free on twists. Uses his hands well to occupy 2 OL so that the LB stays clean. Eats up double teams on runs.
Younger than a normal prospect. No known serious injuries.
His effort and determination was greater than his talent. Pushed his way past opponents just by playing hard, not because he did something impressive or displayed NFL skill level.
Body movements are not coordinated or fluid as a pass rusher, preventing him from linking together multiple moves seamlessly. Not sudden. His moves are segmented, with pauses and delays.
Tends to pop upright out of his stance. Hands not accurate with his initial swipe attempts, leading to his pass rush stalling.
Wasted movements during pass rush, not efficient with his hands.
Can get moved backwards or buried into the ground by double teams, not enough body mass or anchor.
Not able to reliably bull rush down the middle of blockers, insufficient size and power.
Limited body control to redirect to the QB or RB. Average flexibility. Only average closing burst to pursue ball.
Wasn't a difference maker in critical moments of the game.
Has a personality to bee too cerebral, overanalyze and overthink matters instead of cutting it loose on the field and attacking. It would be nice if every player on an NFL roster were team oriented and committed to winning the game every week, but let's just be honest, that's not always the case, player can be very selfish. For a player who is idealistic, this can be frustrating and cause them not to fit in or enjoy playing in the NFL. When Lamarcus Joyner nearly quit the Rams, he told coach Fisher that one thing that bothered him was the other Rams were always talking about things like cars and women and weren't focused on football. How many times have we seen a player get arrested and think "The team is in the middle of training camp. Why was that guy even out at 3 AM in the morning? He should have been in bed."
I can't remember the name of the player, but there was an NFL rookie once who was on a playoff team. He felt lucky and excited to have such a great opportunity so early in his career and was surprised by the negative attitudes of some of the vets on the squad. To them, being in the playoffs wasn't a good thing, because they thought the team was likely to lose and since you didn't get paid that much more, you were risking injury by being in the playoffs without much return benefit. Instead of being motivated to try to get the team to the Super Bowl, they only looked at the situation from the POV of how much money they could make and how it could impact their individual careers. In college, the players are all young, about the same age, and typically hang out as friends off the field. In the NFL, some vets might be at least 10 years older than you as a rookie. They are at a different stage in their lives, they might be married and have several kids. They have to go home and be a dad, they're not going to go back to your pad and watch movies, eat pizza and play video games all night after practice. Players who really loved the camaraderie of being a college football player might not enjoy the more "mercenary" attitude that can prevail in the NFL. It's a job. Ojomo is very mature, but on an NFL roster some of the other players are going to be very immature, which can make Ojomo an "odd duckling".
What is Ojomo's selling point as a draft prospect? He's not a true run stuffing DL, because he's too undersized. He's not good pass rusher, lacking power, speed and technical skills.
Only a part time player for Texas, they had many players rotating on their DL. I didn't think some of those other guys were very good, I thought Ojomo looked better than other players in that rotation.
I don't understand why some experts think Ojomo has high upside. Hassan Ridgeway was a 4th round pick out of Texas in 2016. He had a total of 9.5 sacks and 16.5 TFLs over his last 2 years in college. IMO, Ridgeway was a better pro prospect than Ojomo. Ridgeway has never developed into more than a backup player in the NFL. After 3 seasons with the Colts, he was buried on the depth chart, so they traded him to the Eagles for a 7th round pick.
Draft Grade and Pro Comp
5th round grade. (Sebastian Joseph-Day, 6th round 2018, Rams, Rutgers)
Lance Zierlein projected SJD to be an UDFA in 2018. LZ said he had a good motor, quickness with strong and quick hands, but lacked mass to anchor, didn't offer much as a pass rusher and was unable to beat Brian Allen of Michigan State. Instead of becoming just a fringe roster player who would be lucky just to make the team, SJD eventually developed into one of the better run defending NTs in the NFL. He was a draft steal by Les Snead.
Moro Ojomo isn't a "great" prospect, but in a sense that's exactly what we are looking for when targeting a player for the "6th round cluster" of picks held by the Rams. We are looking for a player who has a realistic chance of still being on the board by that stage of the draft, but has enough talent to be worthwhile.
I consider Ojomo to be an ideal candidate for the Rams in that range. He is a very hard working individual with high intelligence. He performed well against guards who are expected to be Day 2 draft picks. He has enough versatility to potentially play all 3 spots on the DL for the Rams and even play some DE if the Rams at some point switched back to a 4-3 scheme.
Ojomo is a limited player both in terms of his size, athleticism and skill set. He likely will never be much of a pass rusher. He isn't a prototypical NFL nose tackle in terms of size, but his physical and athletic measurements are nearly identical to the numbers for SJD.
Just as SJD had zero impact for the Rams as a rookie, I don't know how much Ojomo would be able to contribute right away. Even if he pans out, he'd likely follow a developmental curve more like SJD and be expected to have a "breakout" campaign in year 3, which would be the 2025 season.
On TST, we've talked about whether certain prospects might fall to the Rams at 36. Ojomo is a player I'd like to see "fall" to the Rams on Day 3. He's not a "sexy" prospect in terms of having a bunch of splash highlight plays and sacks. But, that isn't what playing DL in the NFL is all about. You need strong guys who can hold their ground, eat up blockers and do dirty work so that other defenders can get all the glory and stats. Ojomo displays good potential to do that job effectively. He could be the next SJD or Foley Fatukasi. If he were to fall all the way to the 6th round, Moro Ojomo could become a draft steal for the Rams.