We are here in Mobile, Alabama covering the Reese’s Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) for the third-straight year. On day one of Senior Bowl practice we had the opportunity to interview and watch multiple players up close, and came away with some first impressions of who could make an immediate difference on the 2020 Rams.
Here are five players the Rams could target in the NFL Draft that stood out here in Mobile on the first day.
WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
Antonio Gandy-Golden is a 6-foot-4 and 223-pound athlete that can get vertical and highpoint the ball with ease. Another thing he can do, and he proved it on Tuesday, is block the heck out of his assignment. Gandy-Golden has all the traits you love to see in a big-bodied receiver, but his blocking prowess stood out the most to me yesterday. Sean McVay and the Rams like receivers who can do it all (route-running diligence, position-flexible, willing to get dirty in the run game, etc.) and if you can’t block you probably aren’t meant to be a Rams receiver.
Gandy-Golden is a good fit for the Rams, a team that may not be entirely sure what they are doing at receiver with Brandin Cooks’ concussion concerns. Regardless if they like their guys or not, the Liberty wideout flashes big potential and value for a player who could go early on day three of the NFL draft.
I’ve said for a while that each team in the NFL needs a designated red-zone specialist to maximize scoring success rate. The Rams may feel they have that in some of their receivers (Josh Reynolds has occupied that role with mixed results) but I would make the argument that Gandy-Golden would be the best jump-ball guy on the roster if he was a Ram today. I, unlike many, feel as though the Rams will take a receiver in this draft and I think Gandy-Golden is a big-time guy to watch.
You could definitely find similar traits in Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson; however, I don’t think his value will make sense. The Rams won’t draft a receiver early but they very well might draft one late and that’s a big reason behind wanting Gandy-Golden.
OT Matthew Peart, UConn
Matthew Peart was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster but one that made many draftniks (including myself) very intrigued. Standing at 6-foot-7 and 301 pounds, Peart is a mountain of a man who projects as a developmental prospect-to-starter at the next level. I would imagine teams fall in love with his raw abilities which will push his stock up into day two of the NFL draft.
From my perspective, Peart did a nice job in one-on-one’s yesterday. Sure, there were times where he did get beat, but all in all I was impressed with his mobility. He moves very well at that size and does a nice job maintaining leverage through the play.
I think Peart needs to work on his technique more but looking at the kind of offensive line coach the Rams have in Aaron Kromer, I think Peart would fit in nicely and provide quality depth at OT. Peart confirmed to me in an interview I conducted that he had indeed met with the Rams this week.
The fact that there is mutual interest, the fact he’s in Mobile, the fact he’s going to be available when the Rams pick, and the fact that the Rams offensive tackle situation is up in the air leads me to believe the Rams will certainly be interested in the UConn pass protector.
IOL Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
Lloyd Cushenberry III was one of the most important aspects to the buzzsaw LSU offense that powered the Tigers to a National Championship last Monday. The 6-foot-4 and 313-pound interior offensive lineman had a stout first day in Mobile, showing no drop-off when lined up against the best the Senior Bowl has to offer. Speaking of which, the best player he went up against was South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw and he really did a nice job of holding his own in the one-on-one drills.
Cushenberry has a chance to propel his stock into the early second round of the NFL draft, and he certainly went to a big enough school with enough production against elite competition to do just that. However, if he falls to the middle or late second round, the Rams should certainly entertain pulling the trigger. I think he is someone who could play center or guard at the next level, and immediately win a starting role. With Austin Blythe set to hit free agency and a potential extension uncertain, the Rams could consider the LSU Tiger offensive lineman as the replacement in 2020.
There’s a lot to like with Cushenberry, especially how he’s always finding work. There’s no plays off and he certainly wants to go out of his way to create contact. He would be a stout option in the running game with a high ceiling in the passing game. He’s got some things to work on but he’s the interior offensive lineman to watch for the Rams.
LB Cameron Brown, Penn State
Cameron Brown is a physical specimen at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds; a lean machine coming off the edge. I had the opportunity to talk to him at the Senior Bowl, and he confirmed to me that the Rams had a meeting with him here in Mobile that went “really well”. I am certainly curious to know how interested the Rams are, but it’s a good start if they have already met with Brown and we’re not even into the middle of the week.
Brown was one of the stars on defense out of both the North and South teams yesterday. He is being used by the Bengals’ coaching staff all over the place, whether it be as an outside linebacker, inside backer or even just a straight-ahead pass rusher. Brown has the raw traits that make defensive coordinators salivate. Brown flew all over the practice field on Tuesday and made multiple plays.
Again, he’s raw, but the Rams could definitely use a player like Brown as a potential chess piece on their new defense coached by OLB-whisperer Brandon Staley.
EDGE Joshua Uche, Michigan
Joshua Uche is another crazy-talented athlete that stands at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds. Uche is impressive off the edge, but the thing that had everyone turning their heads in Mobile yesterday was his job in coverage versus guys like top TE Brycen Hopkins. Uche is going to give the team that picks him in the draft a lot of freedom on however they want to use him.
The Rams could be losing Dante Fowler Jr., who is set to hit free agency this year. Uche could likely be taken on day two of the NFL draft and would fit the same defense that Brandon Staley runs. Being a former outside linebacker coach himself, I wouldn’t be surprised if Staley fell in love with an outside linebacker enough to push for the Rams to draft him.
The way Uche has looked in Mobile early on, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was indeed the Michigan pass rusher.