The Los Angeles Rams come into the 2019 NFL off-season having just come up short in the Super Bowl. Tough decisions lie ahead, lots of homework to be done and lots of work, in general, is left to be done. Can the Rams get back to the Super Bowl next year? Absolutely, but it’s not going to be a cakewalk, the team has a lot of players that are hitting the open market or at least are expected to when the new official league year begins at 4 PM Eastern time on March 13th. Here’s a “plan of attack” I’ve put together in regards to the Rams this off-season. This “plan of attack” includes the NFL Draft and the NFL Free Agency period.
BEFORE FREE AGENCY – POTENTIAL CAP CASUALTIES
Bye, bye Brockers?
Starting off, is of course, the NFL Free Agency period and the Rams who have made moves in the past, are not likely to make blockbuster after blockbuster this year due to their lack of cap freedom. However, the Rams can certainly free up some of their cap space with a tough, but otherwise necessary cap casualty of long-time DT Michael Brockers. The team can save a little over $10M in cap by releasing Brockers while only incurring a cap penalty of $750K. Brockers could easily come back on a renewed or rather reworked deal that benefits both parties but at this point in time, his cap number is much too high for the Rams to afford.
Time to move on from Barron?
Another option and a necessary one at that is ILB Mark Barron. The Rams traded for Barron at the 2014 NFL Trade Deadline and he’s been a mainstay for the Rams going back to St.Louis. Barron signed an extension in 2016 worth $45M over five years. He is in the second-to-last season of that contract and the Rams can save almost $8M in cap space by cutting the 29-year old linebacker while incurring $2M in cap penalties. For this year, if you are doing the math, this move and a potential Brockers move would put the Rams at a $17M number in cap savings. However, that’s not the only thing the Rams can do this off-season.
Addition by subtraction at this point with Sullivan?
The next option before hitting free agency is the easiest one of the three cap casualties and that’s simply cutting starting center, John Sullivan. Sullivan is set to turn 34 this year and the Rams can cut him and save a little more than $5M in cap space with only a $1M cap hit. Sullivan is a former stud at center but let’s not kid ourselves, he’s in the back nine of his career and likely close to retirement. Sullivan’s play has continued to take a nose dive and while he offers a ton of veteran leadership and football IQ he’s simply too much of a liability with his lack of athleticism and overall quickness against some of the league’s young stud interior defenders. This has to be done before free agency no matter what.
As the Rams if you really need to scrounge up every single bit of cap space like loose change then you could cut players such as TE Tyler Higbee who would save you $2M in cap space, RG Austin Blythe who would save you $2M in cap space as well and maybe even 31-year old K Greg Zuerlein which saves you $2.5M. Either way, these are kind of pushing it. You have a TE who has developed into a better blocker than anticipated and has trade value, so cutting him wouldn’t make much sense. Next, with Rodger Saffold expected to hit free agency, you could lose your starting LG and cutting your RG who was magnificent in the first 11 games of the season would make zero sense. Lastly, with Zuerlein, he’s a legitimate weapon, so cutting him might not make a ton of sense either. Legatron is arguably the best kicker in the league and while he has dealt with injury, his healthy self is too good to just give away. Neither of these I would advise to absolutely do but Higbee could be a trade candidate.
What should the Rams do with their potential cap casualties? Here’s my Plan of Attack:
– Re-work DT Michael Brockers deal if possible. Release Brockers if there is no resolution in sight.
– Release ILB Mark Barron
– Release C John Sullivan
– Trade TE Tyler Higbee for a 5th-rounder minimum or keep him
– Keep K Greg Zuerlein
– Keep RG Austin Blythe and work on extending him
Moves executed: Released DT Brockers, ILB Barron, C Sullivan
Projected Cap Space: $46,043,052
FREE AGENCY – POTENTIAL RAMS RE-SIGNINGS
Fowler staying in Los Angeles or finding his third NFL home?
It’s tough with Dante Fowler Jr. who is a player the Rams acquired around the NFL Trade Deadline during the 2018-19 season for a 2019 third-round pick and next year’s 2020 fifth-round pick. Forgetting about the capital the Rams traded away to acquire Fowler’s services, Fowler himself brings too much to the table to want to just let him go. You have teams such as the New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers that remain as the biggest threats to the Rams as far as bringing Fowler back. Should the Rams pay Fowler perhaps more than they want to, to avoid potentially losing a young 25-year old speed rusher with a ceiling that he still hasn’t hit yet? It’s all kind of relative to what you do before free agency. It makes a lot of sense to keep Fowler but it’s really up to Fowler whether he will take less to stay with the Rams or take more to go to a rebuilding team with just more able to offer much more money.
Ndamukong Suh a one-year rental all along?
It appears Ndamukong Suh is gone after one season with the Rams. The team of course would like to bring him back for the right price but the 32-year old defensive lineman is still looking to get paid with not a lot of years likely left over for his career. Should the Rams consider bringing Suh back? For sure, but when you look at Suh, you have to bid on what makes sense. Suh was great when the postseason came around but was not spectacular during the regular season. He’s coming off a deal he was paid $14M on and will likely try to receive the same amount of dollars. The Rams simply cannot afford to pay Suh that, so, it becomes simple. Either Suh takes a discount for one last ride for the Lombardi with the Rams or he walks and the Rams move on.
Is Rodger really going to put on another uniform?
The Rams drafted Rodger Saffold back in the 2010 season with the 33rd-overall pick out of Indiana as an offensive tackle to go with their first-overall pick Sam Bradford. Saffold had his struggles which included injury concerns, a failed contract with the Oakland Raiders and a position switch. However, after all of that, Saffold eventually molded himself into one of the best offensive guards in the game. He starred on the Rams offensive line that was honored with the Built Ford Tough: Offensive Line of the Year award. He mentioned during the season that he wanted to stay in Los Angeles and would take a home-town discount if he had to. However, his tone changed after the Rams lost in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. Everyone deals with losses differently but you could tell it wore on Saffold more than just about anyone. When asked about staying in Los Angeles, he basically explained that he would like to but he has to do what’s best for his family, which was a complete 180 to what he said earlier in the year. With teams like the New York Jets primed to offer him loads of money, Saffold has a similar choice as the others. Stay in L.A. on a lesser deal with a better chance to win a Super Bowl or take more money late in your career and play on a team that is further away from the Super Bowl? Tough decision when you are a veteran like Saffold.
End of an era with LaMarcus Joyner?
The Rams drafted LaMarcus Joyner after trading up with the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Will the Rams let Joyner move on? The 28-year old looked primed to secure the bag after an elite season in his first season switched over to the safety spot. However, the Rams franchise tagged him in what ended up being worth over $11M and unfortunately for Joyner, he did not live up to the hype. Joyner struggled mightily in year two at the safety position and was overshadowed by his teammate and second-year man out of Boston College – John Johnson III. The Rams have let safeties Mo Alexander and Rodney McLeod go in the past, both safeties that really produced for the team. This off-season, unless Joyner takes a huge pay cut, it’s likely the end of an era to the former St.Louis Rams draft pick.
How much for Cory Littleton?
The 25-year old linebacker the Rams found as a diamond in the rough out of Washington is up for restricted free agency. The Rams and every team in the NFL will have three tender options on restricted free agents. An original round tender which would mean a one-year non-guaranteed contract of $2.025M and would mean whatever team signed the player away would have to give up a pick matching the original draft round of that player, a second-round tender which would mean that same thing just at $3.095M and would force whichever team that signed the player to give up a second-round draft pick and lastly the first-round tender which would mean the same thing except it’s for $4.407M and a team would need to give up a first-round pick if signed. In this case, the Rams would likely either tender Littleton to a first-round tender or a second-round which would likely deter teams from making a move on the young inside linebacker and would allow the Rams to bring him back for one more year and set themselves up to extend his contract long-term.
Bring C.J. Anderson back?
Last year, the Rams were part of an incredible comeback story headlined by 28-year old running back C.J. Anderson. The former Bronco and Panther signed onto the Rams for an end of the season run at the Lombardi and Anderson was a big part of the Rams late-season success in the running game with Todd Gurley not healthy. Now, with the latest on Gurley and the Rams trying to manage Gurley’s workload, C.J. has a legit role in L.A. The question remains if money is more on Anderson’s mind over winning and overall fit. Not sure if there is going to be a better fit than the Rams for Anderson at this point in his career.
What about the rest?
There’s plenty of talent that will be hitting the market and will ultimately leave the Rams. OLB Dominique Easley is coming off a season-ending injury and while he would likely be cheap, it’s uncertain or not if Easley decides to remain playing football in the NFL or retire and move on from the game since his durability has become a real concern. OLB Matt Longacre has been with the Rams for a bit now and unfortunately has taken a step back since his back injury, he’s unlikely to remain a Ram after facing some games this year being a healthy scratch. DE Ethan Westbrooks is a candidate to be brought back for a cheaper value if he decides to sign but don’t be surprised if Westbrooks searches for a starting role on another team. The 31-year old CB Sam Shields proved he can be one of the best special teamers in the game but doesn’t have the overall stamina to start as a boundary corner any longer. It will be interesting to see what happens, a guy that signed with the Rams for a $1M dollar deal couldn’t possibly ask for more than that. Perhaps the Rams will bring Shields back in 2019. The 27-year old former 2015 third-round pick QB Sean Mannion is likely gone this season after not being able to get in and prove his long-term value at any point in his career. ILB Ramik Wilson is just 27 years old and is one of the best special teamers in the game with starting experience which includes his time with the Chiefs and the Rams this past year in relief for injured Mark Barron. Bryce Hager is another inside backer that was drafted by the Rams out of Baylor and will also hit free agency as well.
As far as the rest go, CB Troy Hill, RB Malcolm Brown and DL Morgan Fox are among those that are restricted free agents. Would the Rams tender any of them to an original-round tender at most? It’s not for certain but not out of the question either. As for the exclusive rights free agents: KR/PR JoJo Natson, CB Dominique Hatfield, FS Blake Countess, WR Khadarel Hodge & OLB Garrett Sickels are all designated as ERFA’s. The Rams will likely bring all of them or most of them onto the roster to battle for spots in camp. The intriguing ones are Natson (who is the return man), Countess (who could genuinely start) and Hodge (who could be in line for the fifth receiver or even the fourth receiver role someday).
What should the Rams do with their potential re-signings? Here’s my Plan of Attack:
– Let Ndamukong Suh walk in free agency unless he brings his price down extremely low
– Let LaMarcus Joyner walk in free agency unless he also brings the price way down
– Let Rodger Saffold walk in free agency if he isn’t willing to take a favorable offer
– Pay Dante Fowler $14M per year tops or move on and find your guy via free agency, in-house or the draft
– Tender Cory Littleton to a 1st-round tender and work on signing him to a long-term extension
– Pay C.J. Anderson $2.5M per year tops or move on and find your guy via free agency, in-house or the draft
– Sign Ethan Westbrooks to a deal under $2M per year if he’s willing
– Sign Dominique Easley to the veteran minimum if he’s willing if not, move on
– Let Matt Longacre walk in free agency unless he takes the veteran minimum
– Bring back Sam Shields if he’s willing to take an identical deal as last year, hovering around $1M
– Let Sean Mannion walk and find your developmental backup behind Jared Goff in the draft
– Sign Ramik Wilson if it’s for a cheaper price, let him walk for anything more than $2M per year
– Do not tender Troy Hill, consider signing him for cheaper than the original tender value
– Tender Malcolm Brown at an original-round tender or let him walk
– Sign Bryce Hager if it’s for a cheaper price, let him walk for anything more than $1M per year
– Sign JoJo Natson to veteran minimum to compete for starting return man spot in camp
– Sign Dominique Hatfield for the veteran minimum to compete for a roster spot
– Sign Blake Countess for $2M per year max and nothing more
– Sign Kevin Peterson to veteran minimum to compete for a roster spot
– Do not tender Morgan Fox, consider signing him for cheaper than the original tender value
– Sign Khadarel Hodge to veteran minimum to compete for a roster spot
– Sign Garrett Sickels to veteran minimum to compete for a roster spot
Moves executed: Tendered ILB Littleton at 1st-Round Level, Signed RB Anderson $2.5M AAV, DE Westbrooks $1.5M AAV, OLB Easley $805K AAV, ILB Wilson $850K AAV, KR/PR Natson $645K AAV, CB Hatfield $645K AAV, FS Countess $720K AAV, CB Peterson $645K AAV, WR Hodge $645K AAV, OLB Sickels $645K AAV, DE Fox $720K AAV
Updated Projected Cap Space: $31,316,052
FREE AGENCY – NFL FREE AGENT TARGETS
With Sean Mannion gone and only Brandon Allen behind Jared Goff, the Rams can delve into free agency for a backup behind Goff. Last year, the valued Mannion’s experience, but with Goff going into year four, does that play a factor anymore? Looking at this free agent crop, the guys that make sense for the Rams are 26-year old Brett Hundley, 29-year old Robert Griffin III, 27-year old Trevor Siemian, 40-year old Josh McCown and 36-year old Ryan Fitzpatrick. For starters, with Hundley, you still have a young QB that you can sign and try to develop behind Goff. Hundley has had starting experience filling in for an injured Aaron Rodgers while in Green Bay. RG3 is a little tricky because he was a third-string QB but in reality, he probably could have backed up all year long or even started in Baltimore. Griffin III has familiarity with Rams Head coach Sean McVay and has the mobility to be a weapon for the Rams if Goff were indeed to go down with an injury. Siemian isn’t the sexiest pickup but he’s a former Denver starting QB that could fill in for Goff in a backup role if the Rams needed just a backup and cared less about development. Continuing on with that trend we have former Rams seventh-round draft pick Fitzpatrick and 40-year old Josh McCown who could step right in if Goff went down. Fitzpatrick is practically a curse though, wherever he goes he ends up starting football games for the injured would-be starter. Perhaps silly, but maybe let’s keep him away from the Rams.
Moves executed: None – Look in the NFL Draft or the AAF (Luis Perez & former Ram 6th-round pick Garrett Gilbert)
In this case, the Rams moved on from Malcolm Brown and bought some Todd Gurley insurance in the former of C.J. Anderson so there’s not much to be done with Justin Davis and sixth-round pick John Kelly still on the roster. Players such as 26-year old Ameer Abdullah and 26-year old Mike Davis would be intriguing options to sign and try competing with Kelly and Davis in camp. Abdullah is a player that many highly praised out of college and Mike Davis is a player the Rams met with last off-season about signing and is someone who is very close friends with Todd Gurley.
Moves executed: None – Look in the NFL Draft but not truly a need if C.J. is signed.
The Rams are sitting pretty with a deep receiver core so they probably aren’t checking out the market in this regard. Players like Cody Latimer who was in Denver with Wade Phillips, Kevin White who has potential but hasn’t been able to stay healthy, Pierre Garcon who has familiarity with Sean McVay’s system and Ryan Grant who also has familiarity with McVay and is another player the Rams looked at signing last year could all be options. If the Rams do not feel comfortable with Cooper Kupp’s progression from the torn ACL and maybe they aren’t extremely confident in Josh Reynolds, the team could look to the free agency market to bolster their depth. Odds are it likely doesn’t happen.
Moves executed: None – Potentially look in the NFL Draft but more for a receiver that can return kicks and punts
With Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee and Johnny Mundt sitting there in the tight end room, the Rams could definitely use one more guy and a potential difference maker. The problem is that there is simply not enough of a market at this position. The best options for the Rams lie with 26-year old Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 28-year old Tyler Eifert who they came close to signing last year and 26-year old Jeff Heuerman who was also in Denver when Phillips was there. It’s obvious, the Rams are either going for crack number two at Eifert or they are targeting a tight end in the draft.
Moves executed: None – Potentially look in the NFL Draft for a TE that can help all-around. Eifert is simply too injury prone.
Andrew Whitworth is staying one more year and he will finish out his contract after forgoing retirement. With this, the Rams offensive line returns three of their five starters. Looking at the offensive tackle free agency class, the only two tackles that make sense for the Rams are guys with familiarity with the coaching staff. 33-year old Ty Nsekhe who has been with the Redskins since McVay and 28-year old Jordan Mills who was with the Bills with Aaron Kromer. Nsekhe is a former Ram who found his role with the Redskins but now is set to hit free agency, a year after being tendered at a second-round level. Either one would make sense for the Rams as depth, Nsekhe can play guard or tackle and might make sense adding a seasoned veteran to backup Whitworth and Rob Havenstein in case third-round pick Joseph Noteboom gets kicked into the guard spot.
Moves executed: Signed OT Ty Nsekhe to 1-year deal worth $2M
Rodger Saffold has left the building in this scenario. The Rams will have Joseph Noteboom in line to replace him, but if they move Austin Blythe to center the Rams will still have to replace a guard spot. The only two guard names that make sense for the Rams would be 27-year old G Billy Turner formerly of North Dakota State and 26-year old John Miller formerly coached by Aaron Kromer. Turner is a player that took a few years to get going but the Denver Bronco guard carved out a role and it led to his best season to date. As for Miller, his best season was with Kromer who is with the Rams but this past year was not a bad year starting at right guard. The Rams really should only look at these two and Miller due to the familiarity with Kromer could be the deal maker for Miller and the Rams. You like the depth there with Brian Allen and Jamil Demby but why not bulk your line back up.
Moves executed: Signed G John Miller to 2-year deal worth $3.25M
You dumped John Sullivan and are looking at potentially starting fourth-rounder Brian Allen or even moving RG Austin Blythe over to replace the center spot. In-house replacements could be the right way to go but the Rams could delve into free agency and go after Ryan Groy who signed a contract to play for the Rams but it was matched by the Bills or simply just go after arguably the best center in the game Matt Paradis. The Broncos don’t seem to be in any hurry to pay Paradis who is coming off of the IR but the Rams certainly could be. Only these two make sense, Groy’s past season wasn’t very good while Paradis continued to strengthen his case for arguable best player at his own position. He’s 29, looking back at last year when 29-year old Mike Pouncey signed a two-year deal worth $15M last year to stay with the Dolphins, is a really good indicator of what price point the Rams would have to match. They just paid $5M last year to Sullivan after he struggled, so you could justify bumping up your dollars spent on this position to $7.5M might be worth it.
Moves executed: Signed C Matt Paradis to 3-year deal worth $22.5M
With the tough decisions already made and the Rams moving into free agency without Michael Brockers and Ndamukong Suh the Rams find themselves needing one more piece to go next to Aaron Donald and likely starter John Franklin-Myers. There are options up there but the top options are between the two New England Patriots Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown, former Raider Johnathan Hankins, recently released 23-year old Malik McDowell, former Buffalo Bill Jordan Phillips, former Dolphin Andre Branch, former Packer Muhammad Wilkerson and former Viking Sheldon Richardson. The best option in my mind is Danny Shelton, 26-years of age and a space eater type of player that can be a true nose tackle but one of the most athletic you will see. Shelton was considered a first-round bust after not panning out or blowing up in Cleveland but he was traded to New England where he helped the Patriots defense big-time in the playoffs and led them to a Super Bowl win. Shelton next to Donald and Franklin-Myers is a quick way to upgrade a position of weakness. It remains to be seen if the Patriots will bring him back but Shelton did make an interesting comment during the year that suggested he would want to go somewhere to play more. The Patriots normally don’t pay their players and one shouldn’t expect it to be any different with Shelton.
Moves executed: Signed NT Danny Shelton to 4-year deal worth $24M
There are tons of edge rushers on the market this off-season. The Rams in this scenario lose out on Dante Fowler Jr. who chooses to sign for a huge price tag over $17M dollars to the New York Jets. The Rams still have the likes of Samson Ebukam, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Dominique Easley, Trevon Young and will likely add another rusher or two via the draft. In free agency, however, there are plenty of options to replace Fowler. 30-year old Ezekiel Ansah, 28-year old Alex Okafor, 26-year old Shaquil Barrett, 26-year old Shane Ray, 29-year old Dion Jordan, 30-year old Pernell McPhee, 28-year old Benson Mayowa, 26-year old Preston Smith, 28-year old Markus Golden, 26-year old Frank Clark, 27-year old Kony Ealy, 25-year old Eli Harold, 26-year Z’Darius Smith, and 26-year old Jeremiah Attaochu. The best option for the Rams might be the familiarity route if the Rams want to go for the hail mary and go for the big-time pickup they could sign Jadeveon Clowney but he’s likely going to be franchise tagged by Houston. So, in this case, it would be between Preston Smith (familiarity with LBs coach Joe Barry), Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray both of which played for defensive coordinator Wade Philips. In this case, the way to go is Barrett, he’s not going to be too expensive due to lack of production and lack of snaps but Barrett for 7-8 million dollars is a total bargain.
Moves executed: Signed OLB Shaquil Barrett to 4-year deal worth $32M
With Cory Littleton taken care of for now and the release of Mark Barron, it leaves the Rams with a spot open in the starting lineup. The best inside backer options include 27-year old C.J. Mosley, 25-year old Denzel Perryman, 25-year old Kwon Alexander and 27-year old Jake Ryan coming back from a season-ending injury. All of these options are enticing but the Rams will likely have to extend Littleton and push the money up near the $8M per year number for that to happen, you don’t want to tie up too much money into a linebacker. It makes much more sense to draft one or even two. With Ramik Wilson signed and the draft picks Micah Kiser and Travin Howard waiting on deck, the Rams shouldn’t be in a dire need to grab a free agent linebacker.
Moves executed: None – Drafting a LB in the draft
Players that make sense for the Rams at cornerback are 28-year old Pierre Desir, 27-year old Tony Lippett, 26-year old Eric Rowe, 27-year old Bradley Roby, 27-year old Bryce Callahan, 28-year old Jason Verrett, 28-year old Kayvon Webster, 27-year old E.J. Gaines and 26-year old Justin Coleman. With the future unclear with the Rams cornerbacks seeing as Aqib Talib is 33-years old, Marcus Peters is on a fifth-year option and becomes a free agent next year, the Rams can afford to go out and be prepared for if Peters isn’t extended and Talib’s play either falls off a cliff or he retires. With hardly any cap remaining, the Rams hold off on cornerback until the draft.
Moves executed: None – Drafting a CB in the draft
LaMarcus Joyner out, but who’s in? If you want to go by the way the Rams handled safeties in the past here’s that history. Rams replace Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell the next year following 2012 with rookie third-round pick T.J. McDonald and UDFA Rodney McLeod. The 2016 season rolls along and the Rams replace McLeod who leaves in free agency to Philadelphia, with Maurice Alexander. Next year in 2017 it’s LaMarcus Joyner who moves out to free safety as the Rams push Alexander over to strong safety. early on through the season, the Rams deem it necessary to move on from Alexander and start rookie third-round pick John Johnson III. The key here is that the Rams replace the safety starters with other in-house guys that they groom into starters or they draft. The Rams simply do not spend the free agency dollars on this position. It rarely happens. As far as this class of free agency goes it’s loaded. 30-year old Earl Thomas, 27-year old Tyrann Mathieu, 33-year old Glover Quin, 26-year old HaHa Clinton-Dix, 28-year old Jimmie Ward, 25-year old Landon Collins, 27-year old Adrian Phillips, 27-year old Tre Boston, 26-year old Kenny Vaccaro, 29-year old George Iloka, 26-year old Adrian Amos and 27-year old Curtis Riley make up the top names. Will the Rams jump into this group? I don’t see it, not with the draft coming up.
Moves executed: None – Drafting a FS in the draft
Updated Projected Cap Space: $6,191,052
1st-round – 31st overall traded away to Cincinnati Bengals for their 2nd, 4th and 6th-round picks.
2nd-round – 42nd overall: DL Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois
The Rams have gone with the interior defensive linemen rotation for a while, pretty much ever since Aaron Donald was drafted. The team went with Kendall Langford, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, then they went with Nick Fairley, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers and just this past year it was Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers. 2019 will be no different even without Brockers and Suh moving forward. The Rams traded down in the first and end up selecting a behemoth of a man and an athlete in Khalen Saunders who will be part of that rotation with Aaron Donald, Danny Shelton and John Franklin-Myers.
3rd-round – 94th overall: ILB Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
The Rams brought back Ramik Wilson to go along with Cory Littleton, Micah Kiser and Travin Howard. That, however, does not mean they are finished at linebacker. Insert Terrill Hanks, a player that is extremely fluid in coverage, gets off blocks with ease and is a violent player that can run sideline to sideline. Hanks could start day one next to Littleton and provide arguably the best set of skills Rams fans have seen at the position in a long time.
3rd-round – 99th overall: QB Tyree Jackson, Buffalo
Jared Goff needs a backup but the Rams would be wise to spend it on the draft and on one with tools. That is Tyree Jackson, a QB that ran a 4.5 forty-yard dash and has a cannon of an arm. It’s a little confusing how Jackson is being talked about in the third-round whereas Josh Allen who is just like him but not as explosive went in the first round. Jackson has an opportunity to be a special talent if he develops properly, just imagine the ability to operate in Sean McVay’s offense. If Goff and his agent play hardball, you have to have a backup plan and this is kind of that.
4th-round – 103rd overall: FS Evan Worthington, Colorado
There are not many single-high safeties in this draft but the one out of Colorado here in Evan Worthington is a fun talent. Pairing him in the back end of the defense alongside John Johnson III would bring a ton to the table. Worthington still has areas he can improve in, but there is enough there to start in the secondary immediately.
4th-round – 127th overall: CB Justin Layne, Michigan State
Justin Layne is flying up draft boards. He may not be here for the Rams but if he is it’s a no-brainer type of pick. You grab your developmental cornerback that has all the potential in the world. Extremely high ceiling and some talented cornerbacks to play behind in Talib, Peters and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Layne would be a huge get for the long-term and could develop into a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback.
5th-round – 159th overall: EDGE Wyatt Ray, Boston College
The Rams grab a developmental pass rusher here to go behind newly-signed outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett. Wyatt Ray is just a one-year starter with very good production after being stuck behind Harold Landry at Boston College. Ray could develop into a solid starter at the next level so this is a good long-term selection.
6th-round – 169th overall: TE Donald Parham, Stetson
There’s no guarantee he will even be here but Donald Parham is a gazelle in space. The 6-foot-8 and 243 pounder out of Stetson is an incredible athlete and might just be a mismatch as a pass catcher with no legitimate upside as an inline tight end. Either way, drafting Parham with his soft hands and his ball skills could give you a stellar passing option for Goff in the red zone.
6th-round – 190th overall: ILB Joe Dineen, Kansas
An extremely productive linebacker in college that could start at the next level if given a chance. The Rams in this scenario brought back Ramik Wilson, drafted Terrill Hanks and still have Littleton, Kiser and Howard. Dineen could challenge Kiser, Ramik and Howard for reps. He’s ready to contribute right away.
7th-round – 245th overall: CB Mark Fields II, Clemson
His dad started in the Super Bowl for the Rams and now the Rams could bring in another Mark Fields. The former Clemson cornerback showcased some serious talent but with the amount of talent at the school, Fields was phased out of the defense. He’s one of the best cover guys in this draft but the lack of production due to the lack of playing time forces him to fall into round seven.
7th-round – 251st overall: DL Michael Dogbe, Temple
Do you talk about adding more interior pass rushers? Michael Dogbe of Temple is a great example of that. Dogbe is so quick and does a great job of getting skinny to attack and slice his way through the defense. He puts serious pressure on the QB and can be a nightmare in passing downs.
FINAL DEPTH CHART
BOLD – Denotes Draft Pick
ITALICIZED – Denotes Free Agent Signing
QB Jared Goff/Tyree Jackson/Brandon Allen
RB Todd Gurley/C.J. Anderson/John Kelly/Justin Davis
WR Robert Woods/Josh Reynolds/Mike Thomas
WR Brandin Cooks/Khadarel Hodge/Austin Proehl
WR Cooper Kupp/JoJo Natson
TE Tyler Higbee/Donald Parham
TE Gerald Everett/Johnny Mundt
LT Andrew Whitworth/Ty Nsekhe
LG Joseph Noteboom/Jamil Demby/Aaron Neary
C Matt Paradis/Brian Allen
RG Austin Blythe/John Miller
RT Rob Havenstein/Darrell Williams/Kyle Murphy
DE Aaron Donald/Ethan Westbrooks/Michael Dogbe
NT Danny Shelton/Sebastian Joseph-Day/Tanzel Smart
DE John Franklin-Myers/Khalen Saunders/Morgan Fox
OLB Shaquil Barrett/Wyatt Ray/Trevon Young
ILB Cory Littleton/Micah Kiser/Joe Dineen
ILB Terrill Hanks/Ramik Wilson/Travin Howard
OLB Samson Ebukam/Ogbonnia Okoronkwo/Justin Lawler
CB Aqib Talib/Justin Layne/Kevin Peterson/Darious Williams
CB Marcus Peters/Sam Shields/Dominique Hatfield
NCB Nickell Robey-Coleman/Mark Fields II/Donte Deayon
FS Evan Worthington/Blake Countess/Steven Parker
SS John Johnson III/Marqui Christian/Ramon Richards
K Greg Zuerlein
P Johnny Hekker
LS Jack McQuaide
PR JoJo Natson/Blake Countess
KR JoJo Natson/Blake Countess