The 2023 NFL Draft is shaping up to be incredibly important to the future of the Los Angeles Rams. While the team’s last contention window slammed shut shortly after LA’s victory in Super Bowl LVI, this new crop of prospects could usher in a new era and help return the Rams to prominence.
Draft day trades for veterans that can serve as both short-term and long-term solutions could also accelerate Los Angeles’ rebuild, though Les Snead and Sean McVay must sustainably balance draft capital and salary cap resources. These are some options at several key positions for the Rams over the draft weekend:
The Rams haven’t drafted a quarterback since McVay joined the team as head coach in 2017, and while LA has voiced interest in the lower tiers of prospects at the position it’s fair to be skeptical that they will dip into the pool this year. Perhaps LA can identify a veteran on another team under new management that has left the player in an uncomfortable position—allowing them to be acquired at a relatively affordable price:
Sam Ehlinger, Colts
The draft order is shaping up in a favorable manner for the Colts to land a top quarterback in this class. They already have Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles on the roster as well, so Ehlinger could reasonably be left on the outside looking in.
Ehlinger is mobile, and it’s clear the Rams value a gamer at the quarterback position—evidenced by their mid-season waiver claim of Baker Mayfield last year. While he lacks the physical tools to be a full-time NFL starter, he can provide stability on the second tier of the depth chart.
Skylar Thompson, Dolphins
The Dolphins seem hitched to Tua Tagovailoa for the time being, they also signed Mike White this offseason to serve as his backup. Skylar Thompson was a seventh round pick a year ago, but filled in admirably during the team’s wildcard playoff game versus the Buffalo Bills. He has the physical traits to succeed, but he struggled with frequent injuries in college (Kansas State) and needs reps to improve.
The only rookie starting QB in NFL history to lead his team to more points in a playoff game than Skylar Thompson (31) was Brock Purdy (41) in yesterday's NFC Wild Card Game#NFLPlayoffs— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 15, 2023
Zach Wilson, Jets
Does the Aaron Rodgers trade open the door for the Rams to take on a new reclamation project?
Malik Willis, Titans
Will Mike Vrabel trade up for his quarterback of the future or take a chance on Hendon Hooker? If so, perhaps Los Angeles could invest in a highly athletic player that is not quite ready for a starting role.
The #Rams met with Malik Willis last year. The Rams currently only have Matthew Stafford on the roster. I wouldn't mind "drafting" Malik Willis by sending one of those late day 3 picks to the #Titans for him. Let Sean McVay see if he can cook something up with Willis. pic.twitter.com/E8WBJBR5Hf— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) April 26, 2023
Shaq Barrett, Buccaneers
What are realistic expectations for Tampa Bay with Baker Mayfield as the starting quarterback? Do they intend to compete in 2023, or are they looking to tread water while they find a more permanent solution? If Barrett doesn’t fit into the long-term plans, maybe the Bucs would prefer to have mid-round draft capital instead.
John Franklin-Myers, Jets
While an unlikely outcome, New York has a loaded defensive front and may need to clear a path to playing time for last year’s first round pick Jermaine Johnson. Franklin-Myers was a fourth round pick by the Rams in 2018 and recorded a strip sack on Tom Brady in the Super Bowl as a rookie. He is an edge defender that has an interior background and some versatility similar to Michael Hoecht.
Montez Sweat, Commanders
Chase Young, Commanders
At some point Washington will have to choose which defensive end they will keep long-term, and their sizeable offseason contract extension for DT Daron Payne suggests a separation could come sooner than later. Young was a blue chip prospect that has missed significant time with injuries over his NFL career.