Joey Ricotta | April 19th, 2020
Well, the Los Angeles Rams offseason started out rather uneventful. Then, they decided to make some splashes, including a somewhat surprising decision to release running back Todd Gurley before he ever played a down of football under his contract extension. Clay Matthews was also cut. Cory Littleton and Dante Fowler Jr. are the two big names that walked in free agency. With Littleton, Fowler, and Matthews all gone, that opens a big gap in the linebacker core, both inside and outside. They did, however, address the defensive line a little, by bringing back Michael Brockers and signing A’Shawn Robinson. The latest move was trading Brandin Cooks and a future fourth-round pick to the Houston Texans for a second-round pick this year.
With all of that said, what direction should general manager Les Snead and the Rams take in the draft? Only they know for sure what they will do, but here’s what I think they will do.
To help with this mock draft, I used The Draft Network mock draft simulator.
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Round 2, Pick 52: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The best player available, you hear it all the time. Maybe Diggs won’t be the “best” player available at this point in the draft, but he could be the best that also fits a need. The Rams traded for Jalen Ramsey last season and gave up quite a bit for him. Marcus Peters wound up playing a lot better in a different uniform and was selected to a Pro Bowl as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Diggs, the brother of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, stands tall for a cornerback at 6’1″ and is a converted wide receiver. He has a tendency to get fooled by double moves, but has good natural instincts and plays physical.
He likes to play up close near the line of scrimmage and uses his physicality and length well in press coverage, having the third-longest wingspan of any cornerback at the combine. Diggs could line up in the slot to help replace Nickell Robey-Coleman, as longs as he staves off competition from David Long Jr. and Darious Williams, or he could compete for an outside starting spot with Troy Hill. Eventually, because of his natural tools, he could be a very solid outside corner for years to come.
Round 2, Pick 57: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
The offensive line is a big area the Rams need to improve, especially heading toward the future. With an aging Andrew Whitworth, a strong offensive tackle makes sense. Niang pushed back aggressively against defenders and was a consistent force in the Horned Frogs’ rushing attack. He profiles nicely as a solid run-blocker at the next level, which is another area the Rams need to solidify. He needs to make some improvements to get better as a pass-blocker, however, he flashed good instincts and awareness while playing in only seven games due to a torn hip labrum, which forced him to have season-ending surgery. The injury might scare some teams off, but he’s a quality second-round lineman with first-round potential.
Round 3, Pick 84: Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida
The Rams addressed defensive line this offseason, signing Robinson and bringing back Brockers. That said, the outside and edge still could use some bolstering because of the loss of Fowler and Matthews. Greenard shows uncanny quickness and anticipation as a rusher. The quickness and speed allow him to get to quarterbacks and running backs a step early, and the anticipation helps him cut off running lanes, while also knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage with regularity. Greenard led the conference in sacks and tackles-for-loss and tied for second in fumbles forced. This would be a solid addition to a defense hoping to replace Fowler and Matthews’ 19.5 combined sacks last season.
Round 3, Pick 104: Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
Dedicated to finding the football, Dye really seems to have a nose for it. He consistently finds the ball carrier, Dye led the Oregon Ducks in tackles every year he was there, compiling 391 total tackles and 41.5 tackles for a loss over the course of his four years. Additionally, he added 13 sacks, five interceptions, 14 pass deflections, and four forced fumbles. The Rams have a glaring need at inside linebacker without Littleton. Dye is widely renowned as a great sideline-to-sideline defender because of his quickness and good reaction time. Along with that, he has the pass-coverage and run-stopping ability you search for from an inside linebacker. He has some work to do, specifically, in pre-snap play recognition, but he should grow into a solid three-down starter at the next level.
Round 4, Pick 126: Shane Lemieux, IOL, Oregon
Back-to-back Oregon products. Let’s keep the same theme and go with Lemieux to help on the interior of the offensive line. At Oregon, many described Lemieux as mean and nasty, in a good way. Experience and smarts are not an issue for Lemieux, he was a leader on the Ducks and started 52 games over the course of his college career. Lemieux isn’t complete as a pass protector, but he’s forceful and gets a good downward push in the running game. After telling Gurley to kick rocks, it’s obvious the Rams are looking for production there. Much like Niang, he needs to work on improving his pass-protection mechanics to stick as a starter. Nonetheless, his work ethic, toughness, and durability, makes him a worthy fourth-round selection with upside.
Round 6, Pick 199: Omar Bayless, WR, Arkansas State
What a tremendous story Bayless is. Dealing with a ton of emotion and lost loved ones around him, Bayless was able to turn in a great final season at Arkansas State. He finished the year first in the nation in receiving yards per game (127.2), second in overall receiving yards (1,653), and third in receiving touchdowns with 17. He also ranked ninth in the nation with 93 receptions, good enough to earn him the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year award. The loss of Cooks opens a spot at receiver alongside Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Josh Reynolds could step up and fill the role, but they could use a backup plan. Bayless has the makings of a well-rounded alternative option with number two wide receiver upside.
Round 7, Pick 234: James Robinson, RB, Illinois State
With Gurley gone, Snead needs to find his replacement, or at least someone to supplement last year’s third-round draft pick Darrell Henderson, and Malcolm Brown. Robinson could be that guy. He’s produced at every level. At Rockford Lutheran High School, he set IHSA records for most rushing yards (9,045) and touchdowns (158). At Illinois State, he finished his career second on the Redbirds’ all-time rushing leaderboard in rushing yards (4,444), rushing touchdowns (44), all-purpose yards (5,218) and total touchdowns scored (46). He uses his sharp eye and vision to sift through defensive alignments and running lanes before hitting the hole hard and accelerating into the next level. Robinson has good balance and strength, which he also uses to his advantage when getting to the next level of the defense, extending his arms for separation to gain extra yardage.
He may not have the fastest top-end speed from a 40-yard dash time perspective, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for with his quickness and one-cut ability. Robinson offers decent stability as a pass protector, although he needs to prove he can get it done as a receiver to be a fulltime feature back at the next level. Not to say that he can’t, he just wasn’t used much that way in college. As it stands, at the very least, he’ll be a solid rotational piece. The kid has a great work ethic, will to succeed, and grit. All he needs is another opportunity.
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