Ellenbogen | Rams 2020 Mock Draft 1.0 with Projected 55-Man Roster

The NFL Draft is less than two weeks away. Can the Rams make a splash in the draft, improve and get back on track to where they were in 2018?

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The NFL Draft is right around the corner and here’s my first published Rams centric seven-round mock draft following the trade of Brandin Cooks. Now, to assume the Rams and mainly Les Snead won’t make a single trade is probably a little ignorant. However, I didn’t want to mock any trades on my first go at this, so here’s a trade-less mock draft brought to you by The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine.

2nd Round (52nd-Overall): Michigan EDGE Joshua Uche

Age: 21
Height: 6-1
Weight: 245
Arms: 33 5/8″
Hands: 9 1/2″

Who is he?

Uche is one of my favorite edge defenders in the entire draft and maybe over the last few drafts. He’s got an impressive blend of strengths that allow him to do a little bit of everything. Whether it involves winning off the edge as a pass rusher, being stout against the run or having the will and the range to cover fairly deep downfield. Uche’s athletic profile is exciting, he boosted up his stock from a phenomenal week in Mobile, Alabama at the Reeses Senior Bowl. Uche while there, displayed the ability to explode off the edge and dip underneath every offense tackle he faced.

 Why does he make sense for the Rams?

With a stable of qualified and young pass rushers in Samson Ebukam, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, newcomer Leonard Floyd, Jachai Polite and Natrez Patrick, the Rams have a decent amount of upside. However, I feel as though they might be missing a barnburner off the edge. Someone that can wreck games and after the departure of Dante Fowler Jr., they lost one. You insert Uche and all of a sudden it’s like having that athleticism back but having a more versatile player that can be rotated around the defense if defensive coordinator Brandon Staley wants to. Uche is very similar to a former USC linebacker that could play outside and inside, Uchenna Nwosu. I think it’s extremely important to possess that versatility and I think Uche would be able and start day one for the Los Angeles Rams and bolster a defense that only needs to make a few more quality picks to look real good on paper.

2nd Round (57th-Overall) via Houston: Michigan WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

Age: 21
Height: 6-2
Weight: 212
Arms: 33 1/2″
Hands 10 1/8″

Who is he?

Another Michigan Wolverine? Absolutely. Michigan has quite the stable of players in this class this year but my two favorites are none other than aforementioned Joshua Uche and the Rams next 2nd round pick in Donovan Peoples-Jones. The man they call DPJ has the makings of an NFL star wideout. Peoples-Jones ran a 4.48 forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine, along with a monstrous 44.5-inch vertical jump and a 139-inch broad jump. Simply speaking, Peoples-Jones is a physical specimen. However, the big-bodied receiver isn’t just an athlete. He possesses key traits the Rams will likely be looking for to fill in the void at wide receiver. Peoples-Jones is a former five-star recruit out of high school and while his production was disappointing in college, there’s plenty to love and make you feel like his best football is on the way at the next level. First off, DPJ is a jump ball extraordinaire, it’s to the point he can control his body and contort it in a way to both shield his man, catch the ball and make way for himself to land and stay in bounds. DPJ has impressive footwork and a great release off the line of scrimmage. Most importantly, his hands are very reliable and what he can do after the catch is impressive.

Why does he make sense for the Rams?

The Rams traded away their speedy wideout in Brandin Cooks but in doing so they have added a second-rounder that can be had due to lack of production and the sheer volume of how impressive this class is at the position. DPJ struggled to explode in college due to the poor quarterback play at Michigan. The Rams have long struggled in the red zone and I’ve gone on record saying it’s time the team adds someone to be their designated red-zone threat. Insert Peoples-Jones, in not only that role but in as the third receiver. The crazy thing about this alignment is how you can rotate him with Woods and Kupp all over the line of scrimmage. With this pick, the Rams add their second back-to-back Wolverine of the draft but in turn, they add another starter and key weapon for Jared Goff. The big thing here is the frame and catch radius that DPJ has and how that could help a QB like Goff that struggled with pinpoint accuracy last season.

3rd Round (84th-Overall): Fresno State G Netane Muti

Age: 22
Height: 6-3
Weight: 315
Arms: 31 3/4″
Hands: 10 5/8″

Who is he?

My top offensive guard in the draft is Netane Muti. His injury history is a bit concerning but this is someone I see as a potential first-round talent that could fall into the third due to his injury history. Muti was medically cleared for the NFL Combine in which he pushed 44 reps on the bench press. He’s going to have that red flag next to him name due to his ruptured Achilles in 2018 and his Lisfranc injury in 2019. However, this man has heavy hands, he’s powerful, he’s relentless and he’s mean. Muti has incredible upper body strength and the force to blow-back his opponent right off the snap. He’s got a good anchor and works well in both run blocking and pass protection.

Why does he make sense for the Rams?

Now, I’ve gone on record saying that the Rams do not need to worry as much as people think about the offensive line room. With this pick, it would seem I am back-peddling on that. I can tell you, I am not. I think when you look at the state of the draft at this point, Muti is the best player available. The trade of Cooks which accumulated another second-rounder gave them the versatility to make this pick. Muti can start right away and allow the Rams to either trade pieces of their offensive line or refocus where to start them. With Muti, the Rams would likely be getting that punch back in the left guard that they haven’t had since Saffold left. Andrew Whitworth needs a big-time tone-setter next to him and I think Muti fits the bill.

3rd Round (104th-Overall) via Compensatory: Appalachian State LB Akeem Davis-Gaither

Age: 22
Height: 6-1
Weight: 224
Arms: 31 1/8″
Hands: 9 1/2″

Who is he?

One of the most exciting prospects in this draft, in my opinion, is Akeem Davis-Gaither. Do not roll your eyes at the name Appalachian State (which makes a second appearance again soon) either. They have been developing some talented prospects and two of which are in this draft. If you want a do-it-all linebacker that can rush the pass off the edge, stifle the run game and operate in intermediate and deep coverage, look no further than Davis-Gaither. The talented App State linebacker has the pass-rushing ability that tricks you into thinking he’s an edge defender but he moves very well sideline-to-sideline and in coverage to make you think he could be a linebacker or a safety. Davis-Gaither is what one would describe as a defensive chess piece, he benched 21 reps at the combine and while he, unfortunately, didn’t test in anything else at the combine, the tape supports Davis-Gaither has some serious athletic ability.

Why does he make sense for the Rams?

The Rams lost Cory Littleton in the offseason, in a move that I didn’t necessarily agree with. Due to this loss, the Rams are losing a turnover machine and a guy who has a true nose for the football. Davis-Gaither isn’t built like Littleton at all but he plays with that same tenacity, that same motor and that same versatility that made Littleton a favorite of mine for the Rams. If the Rams want to start Micah Kiser that’s completely fine, Davis-Gaither can be rotated all over the defense and can be a true day one weapon for Brandon Staley to deploy on his defense. This is all assuming that somehow Davis-Gaither makes it to this pick. I wouldn’t be shocked if he went earlier as I have a late first-round grade on him.

4th Round (126th-Overall): Appalachian State RB Darrynton Evans

Age: 21
Height: 5-10
Weight: 203
Arms: 31 5/8″
Hands: 9 1/4″

Who is he?

Darrynton Evans is the running back prospect you love in this class and do not even know it yet. I mean for starters his middle initials are L.A. coincidence? Evans is from Appalachian State as well but while Davis-Gaither was the weapon of the defense, Evans was busy being the weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Evans’ ability as a home-run hitting threat as shown by his 4.41 speed at the Combine and a versatile back that can terrorize defenses by catching out of the backfield is what makes him so valuable. While he doesn’t need to improve in pass protection, it’s important to realize he’s good enough for the next level and should get better over time. Evans has great balance and a good base for a running back which makes it interesting when you need just three yards because Evans can turn that into 30 yards in a hurry. Evans does a great job of keeping an adequate pad level and finishes every run with a little pop. Evans benched 20 reps at the Combine and has shown not just in the weight room but on tape that he has the strength to be a feature back if asked to do so.

Why does he make sense for the Rams?

Todd Gurley is now an Atlanta Falcon and the Rams currently have third-round pick Darrell Henderson, impressive 2015 undrafted free agent Malcolm Brown and sixth-round pick John Kelly on the roster. While all of these guys are talented and Henderson was my top running back in last year’s class. I believe it does not matter because the Rams intend to add to the stable and create a similar backfield to that of rival Kyle Shanahan and what he had last year in San Francisco. Evans would be a perfect compliment to Henderson and if Sean McVay decided to do it this time, he could use them both in the backfield in a crazy split-back formation that could cause nightmares for the defense matchup wise. Once again, we are in the fourth round, the Rams have made five picks thus far and all five project as day one contributors. That’s how you get bang for your buck.

6th round (199th-Overall): South Carolina State OT Alex Taylor

Age: 22
Height: 6-8
Weight: 308
Arms: 36 1/8″
Hands: 11 1/4″

Who is he?

Right now, Alex Taylor is a small-school prospect that is a former Appalachian State offensive tackle. I didn’t intend for the App State love but Taylor did actually go there and transfer to South Carolina State because he wanted to start and former draft prospect Colby Gosset was in the way over at App State. Taylor is what one would call a ball of clay for offensive line guru Aaron Kromer. He has the raw traits and tools you look for including that enormous length that has me thinking if developed, Taylor could be not just a starter at the next level for an imposing force and potential pro bowler. With that being said, he’s a backup right now. I don’t think this is a need pick, I look at this more as a project 6th-round pick and one that could pay massive dividends.

Why does he make sense for the Rams?

When you have an offensive line coach that is considered one of the best at his craft, you give him players like Alex Taylor to develop. He’s the man for the mission. I do think if the Rams didn’t sign Whitworth and had to find a true replacement, this wouldn’t make the most sense. However, I think following the draft pick of Muti and the picks of Bobby Evans, David Edwards among others, the Rams could afford to make a pick like this. Taylor could be the bookend left tackle if the Evans and Joe Noteboom experiment don’t follow Whitworth with success.

7th round (234th-Overall): Nebraska ILB Mohamed Barry

Age: 23
Height: 6-0
Weight: 231
Arms: 31 1/4″
Hands: 9 /14″

Who is he?

Mohamed Barry is a fan favorite out in Nebraska and that’s for a reason. The extremely high-motor linebacker loves being an animal on the field. He has a well-rounded game that allows him to contribute in most areas a linebacker would. However, his big strength is playing against the run. He can move sideline-to-sideline, he provides an extra dose of physicality, he’s a leader and a tone-setter for a defense. Why is he available in the seventh-round? Probably due to his unfortunate combine invite snub and then following it up with a less-than-impressive 40 time at his pro day as he ran in the 4.9’s. While that isn’t a great time, in the seventh-round, Barry is an absolute steal. It’s worth mentioning he plays much faster than that time on film.

Why does he make sense for the Rams?

The Rams chose a more undersized defensive weapon earlier in this mock in the form of Akeem Davis-Gaither. If they want to add to that linebacker room, Barry is a linebacker that can help. Barry would bolster the depth in the linebacker room as well as add a key component to the special teams unit. With the Rams likely looking Micah Kiser, Travin Howard and Akeem Davis-Gaither acquiring the majority of the playing time, it’s important to grab someone like Barry to fill out the depth back-end portion of that position alongside Troy Reeder and Kenny Young. That’s not to say that Barry can’t even develop into a future starter. Obviously, the Rams have interest per Barry himself on our podcast they have met with him “a lot of times” which means something. We will see but make no mistake, this would be the proper way to close out the draft.

PROJECTED 2020 55-MAN RAMS ROSTER:

QB: Jared Goff/John Wolford
RB: Darrell Henderson/Malcolm Brown/Darrynton Evans
WR: Robert Woods/Josh Reynolds
WR: Cooper Kupp/Nsimba Webster
WR: Donovan Peoples-Jones/Greg Dortch
TE: Tyler Higbee/Gerald Everett/Johnny Mundt
LT: Andrew Whitworth/Alex Taylor
LG: Netane Muti/Joe Noteboom/Austin Corbett
C: Austin Blythe/Brian Allen
RG: David Edwards
RT: Rob Havenstein/Bobby Evans
DL: Aaron Donald/Morgan Fox
DL: A’Shawn Robinson/Sebastian Joseph-Day
DL: Michael Brockers/Greg Gaines
OLB: Joshua Uche/Samson Ebukam/Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
ILB: Micah Kiser/Travin Howard/Mohamed Barry
ILB: Akeem Davis-Gaither/Troy Reeder/Kenny Young
OLB: Leonard Floyd/Jachai Polite/Natrez Patrick
CB: Jalen Ramsey/Adonis Alexander
CB: Troy Hill/Darious Williams
NCB: David Long/Donte Deayon
FS: John Johnson III/Nick Scott
SS: Taylor Rapp/Jake Gervase
K: N/A (Should sign Taylor Russolino from the XFL)
P: Johnny Hekker
LS: Jake McQuaide

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