NFL Draft: Rams Mid-Free Agency Mock Draft

by Pat Pryor
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Free agency has begun, and it’s been a wild one. We’ve seen the addition of Allen Robinson to the Rams, and the departures of Robert Woods and Von Miller, and many other moves. The crazy part? It’s not even April. With so many changes around the league teams have to constantly look to get the edge and of course one of the best ways to do that is by having a successful NFL Draft. There’s a lot of ways the Los Angeles Rams could approach the upcoming draft, and I bring one here, with players who could quickly see some action. This mock comes courtesy of www.nflmockdraftdatabase.com, which I use for all mocks.

Trade! LAR Receives: Pick 95 (3); CIN Receives: Pick 104 (3), 2023 5th

Pick 95: Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama

Here, there was a significant run on cornerbacks, so I decided to spend a 5th hop up and grab Josh Jobe, the senior from the Crimson Tide. Josh Jobe is a lengthy corner with nice movement that can develop in coverage. In my last mock, I went with the higher floor Mario Goodrich, but here I’m selecting someone who can play on special teams while developing his defense. Adding Jobe in the NFL Draft here will allow the scheme diverse Raheem Morris to run more man coverage, as that’s where Jobe does best. However, he will still have the chance to develop his zone coverage and become a starting outside corner for the Rams. If he’s able to develop that zone, he could make a very formidable duo with Jalen Ramsey on the other side, creating a lockdown secondary.

Trade! 

LAR Receives: Pick 150 (5), 2023 5th; CHI Receives: Pick 142 (4), 2023 7th

Pick 150: DeAngelo Malone, Edge, Western Kentucky

I may have made it quite obvious at this point, but I’m a huge fan of DeAngelo Malone. Here, I decide to fall back a bit to recoup the previously lost fifth and still get the player I knew I wanted from the very beginning. He comes in as an edge rusher who combines power and speed to blow up tackles. If he was to add some finesse moves and better hand placement, he could be a very consistent pass rusher. He also can drop into coverage with good speed and overall athleticism. He truly tore up his C-USA competition and could be a steal as high ceiling, starting caliber edge for the Rams at 150. With the departure of Von Miller, Malone fills an underrated need for the Super Bowl champs. 

Trade! LAR Receives: Pick 171 (5), 2023 7th; GB Receives: Pick 211 (6), Pick 212 (6)

Pick 171: Mike Rose, LB, Iowa State

This mock is full of trades simply because for the Rams, there’s no point in picking up late round boom or bust prospects, as they have their boomers. What they should, and likely will be targeting in the NFL Draft, is high level backups who have the potential to be starters. This brings us Mike Rose, a versatile linebacker who can use his length in run-stopping, or his coverage ability against the pass. He can be used to clog up the middle, or set the edge against running backs or dual-threat quarterbacks.

The Rams rarely spend higher value picks on linebackers, as they know they are able to get and develop lower level players like they did last year with Ernest Jones. If they can replicate that with Mike Rose, they add to their linebacking corps with a solid player who should be able to produce in a versatile way. In this pick, I also get back the 7th that was previously traded, meaning all the trades here don’t change the capital next year, and may improve it, depending on team records. 

LAR Receives: Pick 181 (6); DET Receives: Pick 238 (7), Pick 253 (7)

Pick 181: Zach Tom, OL, Wake Forest

As I previously said, I wasn’t looking for the boom or bust prospects here, which is likely what I’d find at the picks I traded for this one. Instead, we pick up Zach Tom from the Demon Deacons, coming off one of the best years in the school’s history. Zach Tom is a great athlete, but not overly aggressive at tackle, where he’s spent the past two seasons. However, he came to Wake Forest as a center and will likely be drafted as one, or at least as a versatile interior offensive lineman. He’s undersized in height and arm length for tackle, but will be fine on the interior.

When scored as a guard, his Relative Athletic Score is 9.97. As a center? A 10. This would equate only to Creed Humphrey for all time RAS, who was arguably the best center this past year. Now no, Zach Tom isn’t the player that Humphrey is, but it does give some insight into his athleticism. He’d come in as a backup to the Rams, but one that could possibly become a starter at any interior line position, with a good floor due to his athleticism. He’d also be a key contributor on special teams, making a nice pick up in the 6th round of the NFL Draft.

Trade! LAR Receives: Pick 220 (7), Pick 221 (7); SF Receives: Pick 218 (7)

Pick 220: Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State

It’s the end of the Johnny Hekker era in LA. After trading back, I was ecstatic to see the best punter in the draft still available. Aptly named “Punt God” he’s considered a generational prospect for the position. It’s tough to describe what he brings to the team, as scouting punters isn’t exactly a popular profession. However, his stats show his abilities just as the tape does. He was 96 for 97 on extra points in his career, and averaged 51.1 yards 84 career punts. He’d be joining the team as one of few players to have a position with an established starter, making this pick come with great value. After moving on from a four time All-Pro, nabbing the best punter available would be a great pick. 

Pick 221: CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon

In the final trade, I hopped back to get an extra pick solely to get the best running back available. It netted us CJ Verdell out of Oregon.  With Sony Michel a free agent, the Rams bring in an extra body to compete for the final running back spot. He racked up nearly 3,000 rushing yards and over 600 receiving in college. He’s a small back, at 5’8” and 194 lbs, but he’s versatile and can flash speed. While getting Araiza, they are also able to snag a running back who could sneak onto the final roster. If he does, he can be a rotational back who can come in whenever needed and provide a small boost to an already electric offense.

Overview

Finishing this draft, I was pleased that the Rams came away with essentially better capital next year (given ending up with the Bears 5th), and several players who can immediately step in as higher end backups. Les Snead has shown that he’s able to get stars during the offseason, but also builds in the draft. 2022 looks to be no different, with later picks but still a bright future. There aren’t many holes to address for the Super Bowl Champions, but they can still get what they need in the NFL draft. 

Pickups

95 (3), 150 (5), 171 (5), 181 (6), 220 (7), 221 (7), 2023 5th, 2023 7th

Losses

104 (3), 142 (4), 211 (6), 212 (6), 218 (7), 2023 5th, 2023 7th

Selections

95: Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama

150: DeAngelo Malone, Edge, Western Kentucky

171: Mike Rose, LB, Iowa State

181: Zach Tom, IOL, Wake Forest

220: Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State

221: CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon

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