Will L.A. Rams general manager Les Snead draft any of your favorite prospects? Well, he hasn’t had a very good track record of doing that recently. Perhaps that will change with so many needs and so many interesting prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Just no picks in the first round.
All of these prospects today have special traits or characteristics that should make them “fan favorite” types at the next level. Whether it’s a chip on the shoulder or a unique trait or a good story, I think that fans will gravitate towards them.
There are many more than this, but I will start with these six.
I’ve included draft profiles from our own community member Ferragamo15, please go read all of his profiles so far on our fanposts section here!
RB Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
Though some Rams fans still get cold sweats thinking about Tutu Atwell going ahead of Creed Humphrey, the 5’6 Vaughn is worth the risk as a probable day three pick and he will turn heads in camp once he puts on pads for an NFL team. But he might go as high as day two.
Emory Hunt ranks Vaughn as his number three back in the class because he reminds him of Darren Sproles.
Despite being undersized, Vaughn rushed for 3,604 yards and had 1,280 receiving yards in three seasons at K State. He had 18 100-yard games in the last two seasons alone, plus a 100-yard receiving game, and he had another five games in which he went well over 100 total yards. He’s explosive. He has a chip on his shoulder. He takes it personally and gets offended when people call him “small”. He will be a fan favorite.
Just don’t ask him to pass block Nick Bosa.
Read Ferragamo’s great draft profile on Vaughn here
OL Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
This barely even needs a write-up. Cody Mauch looks like this and he doesn’t have front teeth:
There will be some comparisons to Quinn Meinerz, another small school offensive lineman who stuck his belly out of the Senior Bowl. Mauch is a better prospect. He could play all five positions on the offensive line, he’s got a chip on his shoulder, he’s a top athlete, he’s a dawg.
He may not be on the board at #36, but if he is, Les Snead will get back some respect from the fan base for taking a “Creed Humphrey” pick two years after passing on Humphrey.
Read Ferragamo’s great profile on Mauch here
TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
I know a lot of you reading this are thinking, “There’s no way that Michael Mayer will get out of day one.” That was a March opinion. This is April and Mayer is falling. Mayer has been in the public consciousness for three years, he was supposed to be a top-10 pick at tight end, but as we get closer to the draft it’s becoming more apparent that he’s been living off of a past reputation and not so much the film and athleticism that you’d expect from a first round tight end.
Especially in a class where most say he’s clearly slipped behind Dalton Kincaid and for some, he’s not even in their top-three anymore.
This is not to say that Michael Mayer is a bad prospect—he’s a GOOD prospect—it’s just hard to be drafted in the first round as a tight end. To do that, you need to have ridiculous receiving upside and it just doesn’t seem like Mayer has that, at least not as compared to some of his classmates like Kincaid, Darnell Washington, Luke Musgrave, or Josh Whyle.
Still, as a lunch pail, meat and potatoes, blue collar tight end who should be good at blocking, solid hands, makes great contested catches and isn’t the fastest guy on the field, Mayer will become a beloved prospect for the team who gets him. I’m starting to think that team will get him in the second round instead of the first, which is a potential steal.
WR/KR Charlie Jones, Purdue
I wrote about Charlie Jones once already and yes, I think he will be an instant fan favorite wherever he goes. Maybe even if it’s just as a special teamer, because he’s got skills there. I just think he may be more like Danny Amendola than like Cooper Kupp.
Read Ferragamo’s great draft profile on Jones here
CB Darius Rush, South Carolina
NFL fans hoping that their team drafts “the next Tariq Woolen” will probably not be so lucky. Woolen is unique for a reason: A height/weight/speed freak who converted from receiver to cornerback late in his career and was thought to be a long-term project only to become a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Seahawks as a rookie fifth round pick. However, Rush has similarities that should make teams intrigued and probably push him up draft boards despite a lack of experience on defense.
Fans of the teams that drafts Rush will have high expectations and monitor every step of progress.
. @GamecockFB CB Darius Rush wakes up with GMFB to run through his last season of college football, and describe his style of play pic.twitter.com/FIqhcetcvX— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) April 13, 2023
Like Deuce Vaughn, this is another surprising positional take for Emory Hunt: He thinks Rush is better than teammate Cam Smith, a potential top-25 pick in the draft at corner. Smith doesn’t have the athleticism and size of Rush though.
At 6’2, 198 lbs with 33.4” arms and a 4.36 40-yard dash, Rush is probably in the 99th percentile for athletes at cornerback. He only played two seasons at cornerback though, so he’s going to need to land with the right coaching and system to keep developing his skills.
S Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
He may not have the athletic traits to go on day two, but NFL teams could get a year one starting safety on day three if they pick Brown because of his work ethic, leadership, and character.
Football teams will be getting a player who has a passion for the game and 10 interceptions over the last two years, so he’s also been a ball hawk. The Rams need help at safety and could be lucky to use one of their day three picks on Brown.