Over the past three years, I’ve conducted a “shadow draft,” meaning that any time the Rams were on the clock to select a player, so was I. I figured this would be a fun exercise just to see the different paths of “my” draft class and the Rams’ real-life draft class. It also allows me to put my opinions on the record. It’s easy to say, I could’ve taken better players than the Rams. Now, it’s out there.
The rules of engagement for the shadow draft were straightforward:
- I had to make my pick before the Rams’ selection was announced.
- I “drafted” with the Rams’ roster and the corresponding needs in mind.
- I would follow along with whatever real-life trades the Rams made. So even though I might have wanted to trade down from 104 or would not have wanted to trade down from 142, I was along for the ride.
104th Overall – CB Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
The Los Angeles Rams needed a cornerback heading into the draft and McCollum continued to fall down the board. With his size and speed, this seemed like a perfect fit for the Rams. This is one of those times that for me, the value aligned with the need. McCollum could have provided early depth or even had potential to step in on day one across from Jalen Ramsey.
Where They Went: 157th overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Actual Rams Pick: OG Logan Bruss
142nd Overall – EDGE Dominique Robinson, Miami (OH)
Dominique Robinson seemed like a great fit for the Rams. I can see why they didn’t take him given how raw he is, but with proper coaching, Robinson has true potential. Robinson was someone that I mocked to the Rams at 104 in my pre-draft mock. To see him still there at 142 was too tempting to pass up. Here the Rams get a potential star pass rusher in the 4th round.
Where They Went: 174th overall, Chicago Bears
Actual Rams Pick: CB Decobie Durant
164th Overall – Dohnovan West, Arizona State
Still needing to address the offensive, I was thrilled to see Dohnovan West still available at 164. I felt that West was a perfect fit in the Rams’ scheme and would have potential to compete with Coleman Shelton to start at right guard on day one. West was one of my favorite players throughout the draft process. To find someone like West still available at 164 felt like a steal.
Where They Went: Undrafted (Signed by 49ers)
Actual Rams Pick: RB Kyren Williams
211th Overall – S Quentin Lake, UCLA
This is the only time in three years that the Rams and I have been on the same page. We both ended up with the same player. Lake was someone that I fell in love with during the draft process and someone who I felt like was a perfect fit in the Rams defense. He’s a smart player and athletically compares to Jordan Fuller. Lake will provide special teams ability and good depth in the secondary.
Where They Went: 211th overall, Los Angeles Rams
Actual Rams Pick: S Quentin Lake
212th Overall – P Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State
My second sixth round pick seemed like a good spot to take a punter. The Rams cut Johnny Hekker and while they signed Riley Dixon, Stonehouse is someone that could have potentially beat him out in training camp. Among 244 punts 43.4% went for more than 50 yards and 36.9% pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line. Additionally only 13.1% of his punts went for a touchback.
Where They Went: Undrafted (Signed by Titans)
Actual Rams Pick: CB Derion Kendrick
235th Overall – RB Isaih Pacheco, Rutgers
With the run on running backs in the third and fourth round, I missed on Tyler Badie and the position was bleak afterwards. Still, Isaih Pecheco seemed like a good pick here. He’s a bigger running back that can do it all. He has good hands for a receiver and has good vision to physicality to pick up tough yards. As a late round running back Pacheco has potential to turn into a solid compliment to Cam Akers.
Where They Went: 251st overall, Kansas City Chiefs
Actual Rams Pick: EDGE Daniel Hardy
253rd Overall – S Elijah Hicks, Cal
Again, the Rams and I were on the same page from a position standpoint. However, the Rams went in a different direction in Russ Yeast. Hicks is a very smart player with the ability to contribute on special teams immediately. This is someone that I thought would add good depth at the safety position and fit the Rams defense.
Where They Went: 254th overall, Chicago Bears
Actual Rams Pick: S Russ Yeast
261st Overall – TE Derrick Deese Jr., San Jose State.
I almost took Cade Otton with my first pick. However, I’ll address the tight end position with my last pick. The Rams lost Johnny Mundt to the Minnesota Vikings, meaning they could use a blocking tight end. Deese Jr. has NFL bloodlines and shows upside as a blocker.
Where They Went: Undrafted, Detroit Lions
Actual Rams Pick: OT AJ Arcuri
The Full Class
104 – CB Zyon McCollum
142 – EDGE Dominique Robinson
164 – iOL Dohnovan West
211 – S Quentin Lake
212 – P Ryan Stonehouse
235 – RB Isaih Pacheco
253 – S Elijah Hicks
261 – TE Derrick Deese Jr.
Based on where they were actually selected Dohnovan West was my biggest reach. West surprisingly went undrafted and unfortunately was signed by the 49ers. West will provide good depth on the interior of the offensive line right away and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him develop into a solid player in San Francisco. That’s a great fit.
In hindsight, there are some things that I might’ve done differently. I could have gotten one of my favorite players in tight end Cade Otton at 104 and still gotten Zyon McCollum and Dominique Robinson at 142 and 157. That might be my biggest regret.