The NFL Draft is over and the Los Angeles Rams have their class of 14 rookies. On the surface it looks like general manager Les Snead may have finally gotten one right after a few years of bad drafting.
Over the past few seasons, Snead has gotten a lot of criticism for his draft. Selecting Creed Humphrey over TuTu Atwell may be his biggest blunder. With that said, it’s very easy to criticize after the fact.
Throughout draft weekend, I conducted a “shadow draft,” meaning that any time the Rams were on the clock to select a player, so was I. I figured this would be a fun exercise just to see the different paths of “my” draft class and the Rams’ real-life draft class.
This was my fourth year doing the exercise. You can see those results here:
The idea here is very much not that I would do a better job drafting than the Snead and the Rams. This is simply a fun exercise in what in a process that requires a lot of luck. That’s especially the case when the Rams haven’t had a first-round pick.
Below are the rules:
1. Past Shadow Draft results do not carry over. Every year is a new year and I draft with the current Rams roster and needs in mind.
2. I follow along with whatever real-life trades Snead and the Rams made. So even though I might have wanted to trade down from 36 or would not have wanted to trade down from 69, I was along for the ride.
3. I make my picks in real time when the Rams are on the clock and make my pick before the Rams’ selection was announced. Revisionist history is lame.
2nd Round (36th Overall) - CB Cam Smith, South Carolina
With Will McDonald IV and Felix Anudike-Uzomah off the board, I didn’t like the options at edge. Emmanuel Forbes was also gone, leaving Cam Smith from South Carolina. Smith is a good fit in the Rams’ scheme and has CB1 upside. The Rams have a huge need at cornerback and Smith can start right away.
Where They Went: 51st overall, Miami Dolphins
Actual Rams Pick: iOL Steve Avila, TCU
3rd Round (77th Overall) - Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
It was surprising to see Adebawore fall as far as he did and was someone that I considered taking at 36. The athleticism is there and he would pair very well with Aaron Donald. While I missed on an edge rusher in the second-round, Adebawore could play on the edge if needed.
Where They Went: 110th overall, Indianapolis Colts
Actual Rams Pick: EDGE Byron Young, Tennessee
3rd Round (89th Overall) - A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
I considered going with Josh Downs at 77, but hoped he would fall to 89. Instead he was selected 79th overall. With run on wide receivers, I felt like I needed to go wide receiver here. Perry has concentration drop issues, but would be a very good replacement for Allen Robinson if the Rams are looking to stick with that mold of wide receiver on the outside.
Where They Went: 195th overall, New Orleans Saints
Actual Rams Pick: DL Kobie Turner, Wake Forest
4th Round (128th Overall) - iOL Luke Wypler, Ohio State
Following my pick at 89, my thought process was that I would be able to get Ricky Stromberg or Braeden Daniels here in the fourth-round. Instead, the Washington Commanders selected both of them. With center options dwindling, Wypler remained the best option on the board.
Where They Went: 190th overall, Cleveland Browns
Actual Rams Pick: QB Stetson Bennett V
5th Round (161st Overall) - TE Davis Allen, Clemson
If you read my final mock draft, you’ll know that I was very high on Davis Allen out of Clemson. He’s a big tight end who can block. He needs to develop as a wide receiver, but if he does, he can becomes a nice red zone threat.
Where They Went: 175th overall, Los Angeles Rams
Actual Rams Pick: EDGE Nick Hampton, Appalachian State
5th Round (174th Overall) - CB Cory Trice, Purdue
Price fell in the draft due to unknown medical issues in the media. However, this was apparently widely known in NFL circles and is a reason he didn’t get a Senior Bowl invite and why he fell to the seventh-round. With all of that unknown at the time, Trice seemed like good value this late in the fifth round. Coincidentally, the Rams also slightly messed up my plan as I had been eyeing Hampton in this spot.
Where They Went: 241st overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Actual Rams Pick: OT Warren McClendon, Georgia
5th Round (175th Overall) - OL Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
Somehow one of my favorite offensive line prospects in the draft fell all the way to the fifth-round. Duncan does have some footwork issues, but if that can be cleaned up, the talent is there for him to be a very solid swing tackle in the NFL.
Where They Went: 186th overall, Tennessee Titans
Actual Rams Pick: TE Davis Allen, Clemson
5th Round (177th Overall) - S JL Skinner, Boise State
This was another really good value pick at this spot and the Rams do have a need at safety. Skinner arguably could have gone in the second or third-round and he remained available late in round five. He needs to improve in coverage, but the athletic traits are visible.
Where They Went: 183rd overall, Denver Broncos
Actual Rams Pick: WR Puka Nacua, BYU
5th Round (182nd Overall) - DL Moro Ojomo, Texas
While I got a defensive lineman in Adebawore earlier in the draft, I still need a Greg Gaines replacement and depth at nose tackle. Ojomo is a great fit in the Rams’ defensive scheme and can play the 1-tech or 3-tech. He’s good value in this spot.
Where They Went: 249th overall, Philadelphia Eagles
Actual Rams Pick: CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
6th Round (189th Overall) - LB Dee Winters, TCU
I was actually a little surprised that the Rams didn’t take Dee Winters. Winters was a linebacker with a safety background and had special team experience. He checked a lot of their boxes at linebacker and would have been a good replacement for Travin Howard. The Rams need some depth behind Ernest Jones, Christian Rozeboom, and Jake Hummel. Winters provides that.
Where They Went: 216th overall, San Francisco 49ers
Actual Rams Pick: EDGE Ochaun Mathis, Nebraska
6th Round (215th Overall) - RB Sean Tucker, Syracuse
Tucker had a lot of mileage on him coming into the draft which definitely hurt his value as well as his ability in pass protection. However, as running back depth behind Cam Akers and Kyren Williams, he should be fine.
Where They Went: UDFA
Actual Rams Pick: RB Zach Evans, Ole Miss
7th Round (223rd Overall) - DL Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma
Redmond was one of my guys throughout the draft process. He needs to develop as a pass rusher. However, he is very stout in run defense. Redmond is a high-motor player with a quick get-off. This is exactly the type of player that you look for in the seventh-round.
Where They Went: UDFA
Actual Rams Pick: P Ethan Evans, Wingate
7th Round (234th Overall) - EDGE Andre Carter, Army
The value for Carter was just too high at this spot to pass up. As mentioned, I missed on edge early in the draft and didn’t like the value in the middle rounds. Hampton is a player that I had an eye on, but was taken by the Rams. Carter will come in and compete as a rotational pass-rusher.
Where They Went: UDFA
Actual Rams Pick: S Jason Taylor II, Oklahoma State
7th Round (259th Overall) - QB Tyson Bagent
By drafting Bagent, I’m probably going to have to sign a veteran free agent while he develops. However, the arm talent and mental processing are there for Bagent. If he can get up to NFL speed, there’s a lot of potential to unlock here.
Where They Went: UDFA
Actual Rams Pick: DL Desjuan Johnson, Toledo
The Full Class
- 36 - CB Cam Smith
- 77 - DL Adetomiwa Adebawore
- 89 - WR A.T. Perry
- 128 - C Luke Wypler
- 161 - TE Davis Allen
- 175 - OT Jaelyn Duncan
- 177 - S JL Skinner
- 189 - LB Dee Winters
- 215 - RB Sean Tucker
- 223 - DL Jalen Redmond
- 234 - EDGE Andre Carter
- 259 - QB Tyson Bagent
Based on where they were actually selected, Perry was by far my biggest reach. Perry ended up going 195th overall to the Saints and I selected him 89th overall. I did like the fit in McVay’s offense, but that looks to be a bad pick on my end. My best value pick was JL Skinner who was selected six picks later.
I like some of my early picks. Smith was a must-have at cornerback with the current state of the position. Adebawore and Donald will also be a very good combination on the defensive line. There’s no doubt that offensive line and edge should have been addressed earlier. Still, Wypler and Duncan bring some upside.
Later on in the draft is where I actually like what the Rams did a lot better than my picks. Hodges-Tomlinson, Taylor II, and Evans all bring upside. We’ll have to wait and see how the two classes turn out.