First round picks and Les Snead just don’t go together. The Los Angeles Rams will once again be without a first round pick in 2022. Snead and the Rams haven’t made a first round pick since 2016. After trading for Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford they won’t make one until 2024.
Ramsey and Stafford are phenomenal players and add more value than rookies would be able to in the ‘win-now’ strategy that the Rams are currently following. However, the lack of depth has started to creep up on this roster and has caused them to be handcuffed by the cap without all the rookie deals that serve as salary relief.
Now where do the Rams go from here to keep this Super Bowl window alive? They need to hit on starting caliber players on day two of the draft.
The NFL draft is deep in talent and day two offers teams the ability to add solid, starting caliber players at positions of need. For the Rams, they must add players at positions of need but also high value ones. Drafting another running back or off-ball linebacker doesn’t offer the same value on the field as a offensive tackle or cornerback. Looking at this roster there’s three positions in particular the Rams should target on day two come April: offensive tackle, edge, and deep safety.
Looking at the Rams 2022 NFL Draft Needs
It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Rams need to address offensive tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft. This team has had to beg Andrew Whitworth to strap on the pads and play left tackle year after year. Whitworth is one of the game’s great players, but at 39 years old his replacement should’ve been drafted two years ago. It should be high priority for this team to draft a young tackle that can take over the reins from Whitworth.
Pass rush and pressuring the quarterback is key on defense and in the NFC West. The division hosts some of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and Trey Lance. They have been able to win at the line of scrimmage by having one of the best defensive players of all time in Aaron Donald. Adding more athletic talent on the edge will only help Donald and the rest of this line penetrate the pocket.
Losing John Johnson III will be a huge blow to this secondary. His versatility brought a lot to the table. It will be hard to replace his production with just one player, but adding someone that can play single-high coverage and be the center fielder for this team is key. They have players like Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, and Juju Hughes but it’ll take more talent in that room to make a difference.
2022 NFL Draft Second Round Options
Now, let’s take a look at some names that could be in play for the Los Angeles Rams second round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Right now, the Rams are projected to have the 62nd pick based on Vegas Odds. When looking at the board here one name that jumps out is Washington tackle Jaxson Kirkland.
OT Jaxson Kirkland, Washington
This Huskie stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs in at 295 pounds. He has some room to fill out his frame, but the movement ability is exceptional. Kirkland consistently keeps his hands in the right place and is a stout pass protector. The lack of weight and power shows up in the run game, but with some added mass that can be fixed quickly.
Huskies OT @jaxson_kirkland is one of the most versatile OT’s on one of the best lines in the PAC-12
In 256 snaps, 0 sacks allowed, 0 pressures and 0 blown run blocks
At what pick in the draft, would you feel comfortable taking Kirkland if the draft were tomorrow? pic.twitter.com/1lB9uigH7Q
— NFL Draft Prospects Podcast (@nflprospectspod) July 8, 2021
EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia
At edge, there’s a couple names here that could be first round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft by April. Players such as Georgia’s Adam Anderson and Ohio State’s Tyreke Smith at a few that come to mind. I’m going in a different direction and look at Anderson’s teammate Nolan Smith. A big time five star recruit out of high school Nolan Smith was one of the top players in his class. He’s only a true junior and has only seen a rotational role so far at Georgia.
However, this is lining up to be his year to breakout. Smith is a phenomenal athlete which led to him being such a high recruit and will give NFL teams versatility as a 3-4 SAM being able to drop into coverage. At 235 pounds, he’s going to need to grow a bit more for most NFL teams, but fits the mold for Rams pass rushers that can chase down NFC West quarterbacks.
S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
In the secondary, teams are looking for versatile playmakers they can move around in different coverages. When looking at this safety board Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker could be a perfect fit for this Rams defense. His run defense prowess is superb as he was one of the best tacklers in the country according to PFF. Athleticism allows him to play from sideline-to-sideline and come downhill with a purpose.
Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker had a lower missed tackle % than any safety in the country (1.7%)
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 8, 2021
Obviously it’s no guarantee that these players will be available towards the end of the second round or third round in April. Yet, they are still players to keep an eye to see how they progress over the season. The Los Angeles Rams should be targeting these positions and retool high value positions as they keep this Super Bowl window alive.