Snead’s Snacks: Who Could the Rams Target at Safety in the NFL Draft?

by Blaine Grisak
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The Los Angeles Rams enter a crucial year when it comes to the NFL draft. With limited cap space (and limited draft capital for that matter), it’s going to be more important than ever to build depth through the draft and than means hitting on the majority of their picks.

Every year I do a series called “Snead’s Snacks”.  In other words, we’re going to find and look at common themes and traits of previous Les Snead draft picks and see which players in the upcoming NFL Draft fit the mold for the Rams. The focus for today’s edition of “Snead’s Snacks” will be on one of the Rams’ biggest positions of need, the safety position. Last season we correctly predicted Ernest Jones and Robert Rochell as fits for the Rams.

The Rams are pretty thin at safety and both Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott hit free agency next offseason. With that said, the Rams will need to load up on the position in the draft.

*Editor’s Note: Numbers taken from RAS and Mockdraftable

Notable Past Rams Drafted Players

Terrell Burgess, S, Utah – 3rd Round

Measurables:
Height: 5’11 (19th percentile)
Weight: 202-lbs (29th percentile)
Arm Length: 29.5” (2nd percentile)
Wingspan: 71.375”
Shuttle: N/A
Broad Jump: 122”
3-cone: N/A
40-yard dash: 4.46 sec (84th percentile)
Vertical: 33.5”

Size Grade: Okay
Speed Grade: Great
Agility Grade: N/A
Explosive Grade: Okay
RAS: 8.11 – Great

Traits:

  • Smart player who reads the field. Takes good angles and tackles well.
  • Versatile
  • Special teams experience
  • Athletic, good change of direction

Overview of Pick

Terrell Burgess was lauded coming out of Utah. However, he’s been more of a disappointment thus far with the Rams. Despite being thin at the position last season, Burgess didn’t see much of the field. He’ll look to get better this offseason.

Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State – 6th Round

Measurables:
Height: 6’2 (86th percentile)
Weight: 203-lbs (33rd percentile)
Arm Length: 31” (27th percentile)
Wingspan: 76.125”
Shuttle: 4.27 sec
Broad Jump: 122” (60th percentile)
3-cone: N/A
40-yard dash: 4.67 (14th percentile)
Vertical: 35.5” (50th percentile)

Size Grade: Good
Speed Grade: Poor
Agility Grade: N/A
Explosive Grade: Good
RAS: 5.54 – Good

Traits:

  • Strong leadership
  • Takes good angles
  • Downhill consistent tackler
  • Can cover tight ends

Overview of Pick

Jordan Fuller had a strong rookie season followed by a bit of a sophomore slump. Fuller was nominated as a captain last season and was assigned the green dot.

Taylor Rapp, S, Washington – 2nd Round

Measurables:
Height: 5’11 (29th percentile)
Weight: 208-lbs (55th percentile)
Wingspan: 72.875 (11th percentile)
Arm Length: 30.75” (20th percentile)
Shuttle: 3.99 (93rd percentile)
Broad Jump: 115” (15th percentile)
3-cone: 6.82 sec (80th percentile)
40-yard dash: 4.78 sec
Vertical: 35” (42nd percentile)

Size Grade: Okay
Speed Grade: Poor
Agility Grade: Elite
Explosive Grade: Okay
RAS: 5.66 – Good

Traits:

  • Versatile
  • Top notch football intelligence
  • Takes good angles and proficient tackler
  • Played special teams
  • Can cover tight ends

Overview of Pick

Taylor Rapp has had an up and down career. For every good play he makes, it seems like there’s a negative play to follow. He excels in the box, but has struggled in coverage.

Nick Scott, S, Penn State – 7th Round

Measurables:
Height: 5’10
Weight: 200-lbs
Arm Length: 31”
Wingspan: 76”
Shuttle: 4.2 sec
Broad Jump: 128”
3-cone: 7.02 sec
40-yard dash: 4.45 sec
Vertical: 41”

Size Grade: Poor
Speed Grade: Elite
Agility Grade: Good
Explosive Grade: Elite
RAS: 9.22 – Great

Traits:

  • Two-time captain
  • Size to cover tight ends
  • Special teams ace
  • Strong tackler

Overview of Pick

John Johnson III, S, Boston College – 4th Round

Measurables:
Height: 6’0 (33rd percentile)
Weight: 208-lbs (55th percentile)
Arm Length: 32” (63rd percentile)
Wingspan: 76.875
Shuttle: 4.18 sec (57th percentile)
Broad Jump: 119” (38th percentile)
3-cone: 6.72 sec (88th percentile)
40-yard dash: 4.61 sec (34th percentile)
Vertical: 37” (71st percentile)

Size Grade: Good
Speed Grade: Okay
Agility Grade: Great
Explosive Grade: Good
RAS: 7.93 – Good

Traits:

  • Versatile
  • Special teams monster
  • Downhill tackler

Overview of Pick

John Johnson III was a steal as a fourth round pick. He became a staple on the Rams defense and there’s no doubt that they missed him at times last season. He’ll be most remembered for his interception on Drew Brees to send the Rams to the Super Bowl.

Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State – 2nd Round

Measurables:
Height: 5’8 (1st percentile)
Weight: 184-lbs (16th percentile)
Arm Length: 31.5 (54th percentile)
Wingspan: 75.5”
Shuttle: 4.4 (7th percentile)
Broad Jump: 124” (65th percentile)
3-cone: 7.26 (6th percentile)
40-yard dash: 4.55 (28th percentile)
Vertical: 37.5 (70th percentile)

Size Grade: Very Poor
Speed Grade: Good
Agility Grade: Very Poor
Explosive Grade: Great
RAS: 2.98 – Very Poor

Traits:

  • Versatile
  • Special teams contributor
  • Leadership traits
  • Physical style of play and downhill tackler

Overview of Pick

Lamarcus Joyner started as a cornerback but worked his way to safety with the Los Angeles Rams. He was the last player that the Rams used the franchise tag on and was an overall solid player before leaving in free agency.

Common Traits Rams Look For

  • The safety position is tough as there simply just aren’t very many. With only six players it’s tough to get consistent similarities.
  • Size doesn’t seem to be a huge factor as all but Joyner were around 5’11. Johnson III was the tallest at 6’2. Wingspan could be something to keep an eye on. Four of the six players had wingspans greater than 75 inches.
  • The Rams like their safeties to be able to tackle, take good angles, and have leadership traits. Special teams experience is also a plus.
  • Many of the safeties didn’t test in the 3-cone, but of the four that did, two were in the 80th percentile or higher and three of four had good to elite agility RAS scores.

2022 Players Who Fit the Rams

S Quentin Lake – UCLA

Quentin Lake would almost be a perfect fit for the Rams. He’s a versatile piece on defense and has the football intelligence and leadership. He’s a solid tackler as well and will contribute on special teams immediately. The Rams like ball skills in their cornerbacks and Lake has shown that. He compares very favorably to Jordan Fuller who the Rams drafted in the sixth round two years ago. I would not be surprised if the Rams do end up with Lake.

Draft Grade: 5th-6th Round

S Leon O’Neal Jr. – Texas A&M

With a wingspan of 76.625 inches and fitting their size threshold of 6’0, O’Neal would be another great fit for the Rams. He shows good agility with a 6.89 in the 3-cone which lands in the 70th percentile. At Texas A&M, he showed versatility at both strong and free safety and was an exceptional tackler. He should contribute on special teams right away.

Draft Grade: 6th Round

S Elijah Hicks – Cal

Elijah Hicks is a very underrated safety prosecute who could be someone that the Rams bring in as an undrafted free agent. This is a player with a lot of experience and shows good versatility. Additionally, he’s a good tackler, very smart player, and reacts well in coverage. Hicks is someone that could be a special teams contributor early and then hopefully develop into a depth player.

Draft Grade: UDFA

Honorable Mentions

S Dane Belton – Iowa

  • Ability to cover tight ends.
  • Efficient downhill tackler.
  • Special teams contributor.

S Nick Cross – Maryland

  • Could go sooner than 104
  • Good size to cover tight ends
  • Solid tackler in space and could contribute on special teams.
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