The Los Angeles head into the 2021 NFL Draft waiting for pick 57 to slowly but surely arrive. If luck falls their way, talented players that maybe should have gone in the first round, will fall to the second and give general manager Les Snead and good group to pick from.
When it comes to the draft, there is the saying, “pick the best player available over need”. In reality, the best strategy is a combination of the two. You don’t want to take a player at a stacked position. At the same time, you also don’t want to reach on a player simply because it’s a position of need. Below are the top needs heading into the draft for the Los Angeles Rams.
The two starting caliber cornerback on the roster are Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. Williams is on just a one-year deal and if he plays anything like he did last year, he could price himself out of Los Angeles. Behind those two is where things get bleak.
The Rams drafted David Long in 2018, but he hasn’t played up to his third-round price tag and behind him are a hodgepodge of undrafted free agents. Troy Hill wasn’t a top cornerback, but he provided important, versatile depth. It would not be surprising to see the Rams take a cornerback with one of their first three picks.
Interior Offensive Line
The Rams unexpectedly lost Austin Blythe to the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. They could very well move Austin Corbett to center and play David Edwards and Joseph Noteboom at the guard spots. However, with how well Corbett has played at guard, is that really something that you want to switch up?
Even if the Rams do plan on moving Corbett to center, they are going to need a “sixth man”. Blythe was very good in the sense that he could play guard and center. Others on the offensive line are tackle/guard offensive linemen. Corbett is a free agent after this season. The Rams need to have a backup plan in waiting if they are unable to re-sign the former second-round pick from Cleveland.
I struggle to make linebacker a top priority as the Rams just had the number one defense with Troy Reeder, Micah Kiser, and Kenny Young in the middle of their defense. While an upgrade is necessary, the Rams clearly like the guys on the roster much more than fans do. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey are much more important to the Rams defense than any of the linebackers.
The Rams are able to use their safeties in ways that hide their linebackers and with Taylor Rapp likely taking on a larger role this year as well as Jordan Fuller, that’s not going to change. Rapp excels in the box and Fuller is excellent moving sideline to sideline as shown from fourth down stop against Dallas last season.
Edge rusher went from being a top need in the draft, to not being as much of a priority after re-signing Leonard Floyd. Floyd will be the number one guy that can do everything, but the Rams need someone who can compliment him on the other side. Terrell Lewis struggled to stay healthy and will likely be used strictly on passing downs. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is a rotational player as well.
The Rams don’t necessarily need a three-down player, but someone to add as depth after losing Samson Ebukam should be a priority.
For the first time since Sean McVay’s first season, the Rams actually have question marks at wide receiver. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods will always be the top two guys, but behind them, the Rams don’t have a lot. DeSean Jackson adds veteran depth, but Nsimba Webster is unproven as is Trishton Jackson. It would not be surprising to see the Rams draft a rookie wide receiver to be the third or fourth guy on the roster.
The Rams are actually in good shape at safety, but they are unproven. Unfortunately, adding a rookie doesn’t change that fact. Jordan Fuller and Terrell Burgess will be relied on this season as well as Taylor Rapp. Nick Scott also played well towards the end of last season.
Losing John Johnson III wasn’t ideal, but the Rams do have the depth at safety and should be in a good spot. They could use some depth, but safety is a position that the Rams can add on day three.
Defensive line might be one of the Rams’ stronger positions. Despite losing Michael Brockers and Morgan Fox, the Rams still have A’Shawn Robinson, Aaron Donald, and Sebastian Joseph-Day. Greg Gaines also adds some depth. Snead could add some more depth in the draft, but with undrafted free agents that the Rams already have on the roster, it won’t be a priority.
I might be in the minority here, but the Rams are actually in a really good spot when it comes to offensive tackle. The Rams have Andrew Whitworth and Joseph Noteboom behind him at left tackle. Rob Havenstein is more than serviceable on the right side and Bobby Evans provides depth. David Edwards has experience at tackle and the Rams like Tremayne Anchrum.
The Rams could add someone in the middle rounds. However, Whitworth and Havenstein are going to start and there is depth at that spot. Offensive tackle shouldn’t be seen as a huge priority.
The Rams lost Malcolm Brown in free agency which is a bigger deal than some might think. Brown was very good in pass protection and short-yardage situations. Cam Akers and Darell Henderson will carry the load, but the Rams could add a third back that excels in short-yardage and is someone that the team can develop. This doesn’t mean the Rams should take a running back at 103 or 141. It just means if there is a guy at 209 or 252 that the Rams really like, it would make sense to draft one. Otherwise, undrafted free agency is the best bet.
Tight end is very similar to running back. The Rams have Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins. Johnny Mundt was brought back to be the third tight end and play in his blocking role that he’s excelled at while in Los Angeles. If the Rams want to add someone behind Mundt, that might make sense. However, the Rams are in a decent spot when it comes to tight end despite losing Gerald Everett.