Rams’ Draft Priorities Grow Post-Free Agency

The big-name free agents have been signed. With the first wave of free agency over, where do the Rams’ needs stand entering the draft?

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The Los Angeles Rams were able to address some needs in the first week of free agency despite not having a lot of cap space to do it. However, with that cap space the Rams were forced to cut ties with players like Clay Matthews, Todd Gurley, and Nickell Robey-Coleman, adding to an already long list of needs.

After the first week, the Rams signed a new starting player on the edge and a new 3-4 run-stopping defensive end. However, it’s unlikely those signings changed Les Snead’s plans for the draft and given the cuts made above, it may have made it list even longe.r

For example, despite signing Leonard Floyd, nobody would fault the Rams for double-dipping and drafting Joshua Uche at 52. Despite adding Robinson, the Rams still need depth at the position. Adding to that, there is no evidence that Darrell Henderson can carry the load even if its with a Malcolm Brown, adding running back as a potential need and the team seemed to be solid at cornerback but could now justify adding a player after cutting Robey-Coleman. That’s not to mention that the team has not added anybody to what was one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season.

Snead will have his work cut out for him in the draft. With that said here is an updated list of needs and the priority in which they are needed.

EDGE

Edge still remains a top priority for the Rams. Despite signing Floyd, the Rams basically offset that by releasing Clay Matthews. With Floyd, the Rams are left with Obo Okoronkwo and Samson Ebukam on the edge. Remember, without Fowler in 2018 when Aaron Donald broke the franchise sack record, no Rams pass rusher eclipsed five sacks.

That’s not to say Okoronkwo or Ebukam can’t do it, but just like leaving Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen to fend for themselves on the offensive line last year without a lot of experience, doing so seems like a big risk.

That’s not to mention Floyd’s strength isn’t rushing the passer. It’s stopping the run and dropping back in coverage. That’s not to mention that he’s playing on a one-year deal. he Rams need a threat to rush the passer off of the edge and drafting a player like Uche or Darrell Taylor in the second round still makes a lot of sense.

Cornerback

Yes, the Rams have Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill as the slated starters. However, cornerback is still a huge need for this team. Ramsey is on the last year of his deal and will be expecting a large contract from a team that typically hasn’t re-signed its defensive backs. Hill played well down the stretch last season but, again, is on the last year of his deal and has been inconsistent throughout his career.

The Rams need either a cornerback that can compete with Troy Hill this year for a starting role or they need to draft someone that they can groom and then take over the starting spot next season. This doesn’t even mention the need for a slot corner with the departure of Robey-Coleman.

Yes, the Rams have David Long and it should be fully expected for him to be apart of this team’s future plans, but adding somebody else as well is necessary. The Rams have depth here, but with players on expiring contracts and releasing Robey-Coleman, the team has created a need on the outside at cornerback.

Drafting someone like AJ Terrell in the second round or Bryce Hall out of Virginia in the third round or early on day three would make a lot of sense.

Interior Offensive Line

The Rams re-signed Austin Blythe, but it was just for a one year deal. This is an offensive line that is its weakest on the interior. Snead has drafted well and signed good players at tackle. That list includes Andrew Whitworth, Rob Havenstein, Bobby Evans, and Joe Noteboom.

Blythe should be expected to slot in a center with David Edwards and Noteboom at guard. Edwards showed flashes last season while Noteboom struggled. Therefore despite the Blythe signing, it still makes sense for the Rams to draft someone who can play guard and center, groom them at guard, and then work them over to center either later on in the year or next season.

Despite the narrative that the Rams desperately need offensive line help, I’m not so sure that’s the case. This is a group that showed flashes and improved down the stretch. With a year of experience under their belts, they should only improve this year. The Rams probably won’t draft someone on the interior in the second round, but late day two and early day three will be the place to look.

Nose Tackle

Ever since the Rams moved to a 3-4 defense they have lacked a true 3-4 space-eating nose tackle. They tried it with Ndamukong Suh and it wasn’t the right fit. Having that on the defensive line would help out a player like Aaron Donald on the outside immensely.

The Rams drafted Greg Gaines and have Sebastian Joseph-Day, but neither have proved much when they’ve been givin the opportunity. Gaines was drafted in the fourth round and it would not be shocking if the Rams spent another fourth round selection on a nose tackle especially with Staley’s apparent focus on stopping the run.

Safety

The Rams have John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp which is why drafting a safety on day two or even early day three of the draft doesn’t make sense. However, this still is a need. This defense lacks a center-fielder. Johnson fits perfectly in the Adrian Amos mold and Rapp is much more comfortable in the box than he is in coverage.

Again, that’s not to say the Rams need to draft a player that can start right away. The team lost Eric Weddle to retirement and lost depth with Marqui Christian signing with the Jets. Drafting a safety in the sixth or seventh round still remains a priority.

Running Back

The Rams have Henderson and Brown. They do not need to spend a day two selection or even early day three selection on a running back. However, it would make sense to draft one late on day three or even as an undrafted free agent. Let us not forget that running backs like Phillip Lindsey and Austin Eckler went undrafted while Aaron Jones was drafted in the fifth.

Running backs don’t need talent as much as other positions. That’s not to say talent isn’t needed, they still NFL talent, however, if the Rams can bolster the offensive line, it’s not going to matter a ton who is taking handoffs from Jared Goff. A running back like Zach Moss or JK Dobbins isn’t necessary, but if they can find one on day three or as a priority undrafted free agent, it wouldn’t be a bad move.

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