When it comes to the NFL Draft there is a phrase ‘stand on the table’. What that means is, this is a player you would stand on the draft table for and make an argument for your team to draft that player. Every year in NFL Draft war rooms, NFL personnel and scouts will stand up and make a case for “their guy.” When you are making that case, the expression is that you are “standing on the table” to make your case loud and clear that a certain prospect should be the team’s pick.
With that said, here are five players that I would stand on the table for if I were in the Los Angeles Rams war room in two weeks.
1. OC, Quinn Meinerz – Wisconsin-Whitewater
There are times during the NFL Draft process when you just know that a player is going to be good. That’s the case when it comes to Quinn Meinerz. Meinerz just brings a nastiness to the position that a lot of players just don’t have. This is an attitude that the Rams have been missing on the offensive line since maybe Harvey Dahl.
The issue with Meinerz is that he played at the Division III level. Therefore there are going to be questions about the competition that he played against. He’s certainly going to get drafted, but this is a player that is worth a second-round pick. If he had played in the SEC, he might be a first round center.
Division III didn’t stop Tampa Bay’s Ali Market who got drafted at 61 overall. Meinerz absolutely deserves to be drafted that high if not higher. At the senior bowl, Meinerz dominated his competition. In fact, he earned the National Team’s Offensive Lineman of the Week award in Mobile.
The Rams need a young difference maker on the offensive line and that’s Meinerz.
2. CB, Avery Williams – Boise State
It’s hard to get excited about a player that will most likely get drafted in the sixth or seventh round in the NFL Draft. However, that’s exactly the spot that teams start looking for players like Avery Williams. Last season, the Rams special teams unit ranked near the bottom of the NFL in DVOA.
Long story short, it was bad. The Rams are honestly lucky that they didn’t lose more games because of special teams and some games were closer than they needed to be because of special teams mishaps.
Simply put, Williams is a special teams playmaker. The Rams can put a priority on special teams by utilizing a draft pick to improve the unit. Williams can play anywhere and will make a difference in that spot. At Boise State he returned kicks, returned punts, returned an onside kick for a touchdown, and blocked punts. Anywhere he played, he made a difference.
Williams has 5 career blocked kicks and 9 total kick/punt return touchdowns. The Rams have been missing that type of impact since Cory Littleton was a full-time special teamer.
3. OC, David Moore, Grambling State
Yes, Moore is another center on this list, but that just speaks to how good this interior offensive line class is in this year’s NFL Draft. If the Rams miss out on a center like Humphrey or Meinerz, Moore is not a bad plan B. Like Meinerz, he just brings that attitude that the Rams lack inside. Also like Meinerz, he had a solid week at the Senior Bowl earning the American team’s Offensive Lineman of the Week award.
Moore didn’t play in a top-tier conference and opted to play at an HBCU during his collegiate career. After the FCS opted not to play last fall, Moore did some work with Houston Oilers’ Hall of Fame Bruce Matthews to work on his game. Moore is versatile as well and can play both guard and center.
Every time I watch Moore, I fall more in love him. The attitude he brings to the position isn’t something that you always see. He might not start right away, but give him a year to develop and be the “sixth man” on the offensive line and he’ll have a good chance to start in year two.
4. LB, Garrett Wallow, TCU
There’s little doubt that the Rams need a linebacker. The only questions is when they will take one. It would be surprising to see the Rams take a linebacker with one of their first two picks, but anything after that should be considered free game. With the NFL moving to more nickel and dime defenses, linebackers have become nearly obsolete, but the Rams should still look to upgrade there.
One player that I’d be looking at anywhere after pick 100 is TCU’s Garrett Wallow. Wallow is built like the modern linebacker. He has the speed and coverage ability of a safety, but the size of a linebacker. He led the Horned Frogs in tackles for three years. While he may not be a star at linebacker in the NFL, he can develop into more than a capable starter.
Wallow is exactly the type of player that you look for on late day two or day three of the draft. He’s instinctive, he plays hard, has a high football IQ that will give him the ability to quarterback a defense, he displays leadership and a high work-ethic, and collects tackles as a hobby. His 125 tackles last season ranked ninth in college football.
The Rams don’t seem to put a lot of value on the linebacker position. They like to develop guys who can come in and get the job done. Wallow may be a special teams player as a rookie, but he is more than capable of developing into a starter.
5. WR, Jaelon Darden, North Texas
You can’t teach speed and Jaelon Darden is fast. The Rams need players who can make plays in space on offense. Darden is just that. He’s fast and he’s elusive. All you need to do is get the ball into his hands. His 25 forced missed tackles on receptions tied for second in the country last season.
He’s small at just 5’7, but this is someone who can start out as a special teams contributor and develop into a fourth wide receiver on a team, playing 5-10 snaps per game. He’s a true vertical threat that can get down field, but can also be used on gadget plays a screens. Like I said, just get the ball into his hands and let Darden do the rest.
Darden is one of the top play-making wide receivers in a wide receiver class that is very deep. His size is his lone real concern. Despite his size, that doesn’t mean that he can’t contribute. He has 4.4 speed and has extremely polished route-running and explosiveness after the catch. McVay is a smart offensive coach that knows how to put his players in the best spot to be successful. That’s the type of coach that Darden will need in order to succeed at the next level.