We are here in Mobile, Alabama covering the Reese’s Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) for the third-straight year. On day two 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 second day of Senior Bowl practice.
OT Josh Jones, Houston
Josh Jones has been a monster in Mobile. At 6’7 and 310 lbs, he has stifled the likes of Alton Robinson of Syracuse (among others) and he’s been showing up big on the practice field. Jones could go in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft and therefore might not even be an option for the Rams, but if he does manage to slide into the second round, the Rams would have to consider drafting him.
His size, his strength, his first punch, his ability to get to the second level with ease and impact block; Jones is the real deal. It’s a solid offensive tackle bunch here in Mobile, but Jones might be the top of the food chain here. Check out CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso’s (@ChrisTrapasso) notes on Jones here.
The Rams once again have an uncertain future on their offensive line. RT Rob Havenstein and presumed future LT Joseph Noteboom will be returning from season-ending injuries. Starting RG Austin Blythe is a free agent. Rookies David Edwards (filling in at RG for Blythe after injury) and Bobby Evans (filling in at RT for Havenstein after injury) performed admirably to close the season, but it’s not clear if they have earned starting roles moving forward.
You could legitimately start Josh Jones day one at left tackle if you aren’t sold on Noteboom (or he has any setbacks in his return) and if LT Andrew Whitworth does not return on a team-friendly deal.
IOL Damien Lewis, LSU
We spoke about Lloyd Cushenberry III in our day one practice recap, and while he had another great day at the office, it was his line mate Damien Lewis who turned heads on Wednesday. He did a nice job in not only the pass protection drills but also the run blocking drills, where he stymied multiple interior defensive linemen. I found myself really impressed with Lewis following Wednesday’s practice.
As I mentioned in my last article, the Rams have an uncertain future on the offensive line. I have no idea the route they will go (especially with many moving pieces), but I would not be shocked if they address the offensive line in a big way this year. They could even send Havenstein (and his contract) out for a few picks and spend extra draft collateral on the trenches.
I wouldn’t be opposed to the Rams grabbing Lewis in the mid-rounds and also grabbing Cushenberry in the third or even the second round. We will see, but that would be quite the scenario to grab both stud LSU offensive linemen and remake the Rams’ IOL.
LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
Standing at 6-foot-1 and 219 pounds, the App State product has really turned some heads here in Mobile. He might need to add some bulk to play inside backer at the next level but I love the way he has been flying all over the field making plays.
He does a great job (as demonstrated on tape) of sorting out the trash and attacking the ball carrier. He doesn’t get caught up on blocks and he’s displayed that here in a surprisingly big way for such a small frame; he seems to have the mentality of playing bigger than his size.
With impending free agent Cory Littleton and the future of the inside backer spot uncertain, Davis-Gaither could be a legitimate option for the Rams. If not to start inside, he could be a primary chess piece for Brandon Staley to use as he pleases.
EDGE Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina
The 6-foot-4 and 267-pound Strowbridge was all over the backfield on Wednesday. I was really impressed with his active hands and flexibility: Strowbridge impressively batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage, and displayed great get-off and bend around the edge.
Strowbridge was listed at UNC around 285 pounds, but when speaking with him it was clear he definitely wanted to keep his weight down and operate more as an edge defender than an interior defensive lineman.
The Rams are certainly in the market for edge help. It’s unclear if OLB Clay Matthews is going to be in the picture ($5.75M cap hit) or if OLB Dante Fowler Jr. returns, but make no mistake, Strowbridge can be had late day two or early day three.
The Rams will have an opportunity to fill the edge spot in this draft and the North Carolina pass rusher pushed his stock up yesterday.
S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
The 6-foot and 217-pound Kyle Dugger has looked incredible here in Mobile. The small-school prospect is really building a case that he not only belongs here among the best of his peers, but he might actually be the best defensive back here this week.
Dugger has flashed versatility from his days in college while playing myriad of positions, but what is most impressive with Dugger is how he wants to do everything as a safety. He can play in the box, cover man-to-man outside the numbers and patrol centerfield. He’s easily one of the best athletes on the defense and has shown just that this week.
Why would the Rams draft another safety with Taylor Rapp, John Johnson III, Eric Weddle and Marqui Christian? Well, for starters Christian is a free agent, I do not expect the Rams to keep Eric Weddle around ($4.75M cap hit), and I feel as though Rapp is better suited to play the pseudo-linebacker role and operate around the line of scrimmage.
The Rams could find Dugger on the board in day two and potentially day three. I could see a fit for Dugger to play as either the third safety or, due to his range, starting at free safety and adding another element to the Rams defense.