[Editor’s Note: Version 1.0 below originally published on February 18]
After their Super Bowl appearance in 2018, the Los Angeles Rams were hoping for another run this past season. However, massive offensive regression and injuries caused the Rams to miss the playoffs altogether. After an offseason filled with changes, including the departure of renowned defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams are looking for another chance to get back to the playoffs and hoist the Lombardi Trophy. To do so, they need to fill out several needs on the team, but are strapped for cap space and have limited draft capital. This Los Angeles Rams 7-round mock draft will target several needs and try to put the team over the edge, despite their lack of draft picks.
Team needs for the Los Angeles Rams
Left Tackle: The Rams currently lack a left tackle of the future on their roster. While the team could certainly bring back Andrew Whitworth, the Rams may not be able to afford him and also lack depth behind him. There are too many question marks for this position to not be looked at, but can they hit on the value with their limited resources?
Pass rusher(s): Dante Fowler is going to make serious money this offseason (potentially with the Atlanta Falcons), money that the Rams cannot afford to pay him. This opens up the primary EDGE spot as a major need with no answer on the current roster.
Defensive end Michael Brockers is also set to hit free agency, and while he is not a high-level pass-rusher, his presence on the defensive line is stalwart as a significant run defender. Finding replacements at two critical spots will be difficult for the Rams to do in one offseason, but it needs to be done if the team wants to make the playoffs.
Linebacker: Cory Littleton was the Rams’ best linebacker last season by a comfortable margin, but he’s set to become a free agent. Even if the Rams find a way to re-sign Cory Littleton, the other options on the roster aren’t very inspiring, and even Littleton’s skill set is limited. They need another option to either take over or work in tandem with Littleton.
Safety depth: Safety depth is a weird thing to put on a draft needs list, but the Rams need it. The modern NFL is shifting more and more to 3 or more safety look. With the retirement of Eric Weddle, the Rams lose over a thousand snaps from 2019 at safety. Safety Marqui Christian played over 700 snaps, but more than likely doesn’t re-sign with the team due to the Rams’ pressing cap issue.
*Interior offensive linemen: I’m adding the asterisk in case the Rams are unable to bring back Austin Blythe. Blythe’s versatility bailed the Rams out last season when he was able to transition to center from right guard and produce solid play. If the team fails to re-sign him, the Rams will have another hole open up on the offensive line.
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Los Angeles Rams 7-round mock draft
Round 2, Pick 52: Julian Okwara, EDGE Notre Dame
As mentioned above, the Rams absolutely have to add a pass rusher or two this offseason to help them get back to the playoffs. Okwara is a dynamic, explosive pass rusher who would slide right in as a rushing LB. He has a few technique cleanups to improve upon, such as a noticeable false step in his footwork, but his dynamite athleticism is rivaled only by Chase Young and K’Lavon Chaisson in this EDGE class.
Okwara’s fibula injury that will unfortunately not allow him to test at the NFL Combine likely pushes him out of the first round, but this is excellent value to start out this Rams 7-round mock draft.
Round 3, Pick 84: Saahdiq Charles, OT LSU
Why not replace one former LSU offensive tackle with another? Charles is a smooth athlete in space and has demonstrated enough power to be a force in the zone-oriented run scheme the Rams implement. Charles has enough technique issues to require further refinement, which will likely push him back and down draft boards.
If the Rams bring back Whitworth, he’d be an excellent mentor for Charles. The value to nab a potential developmental franchise left tackle would be too tempting, as the OT class drops off very quickly after Charles.
Round 4, Pick 116: Logan Wilson, LB Wyoming
Even if the Rams re-sign Cory Littleton, they need another player to pair with him. Littleton’s run defense has been spotty, but his coverage skills are top-notch. Wilson does both very well. Wilson is a smart and intuitive player who flies around the field and has been incredibly productive.
His smarts show up in his coverage skills, where he’s read quarterbacks enough to have 10 career interceptions and 14 pass breakups, which is phenomenal production for a linebacker. His athleticism has undoubtedly been a question mark that hasn’t been answered yet. Although he’s not a true rangy athlete, his instincts help get him to the ball faster than his body does.
Round 5, Pick 156: Rashard Lawrence, IDL LSU
Another LSU player in this Rams 7-round mock draft that potentially replaces another former LSU player. With Brockers slated to hit free agency, the Rams need another impact run defender on the defensive line.
While Lawrence, like Brockers, isn’t a phenomenal pass rusher, it’s his heavy hands, motor, power, and anchor at the point of attack that will get him drafted. While his stock will ultimately be determined by his upcoming NFL Combine performance, round five seems like the right value for Lawrence.
Round 6, Pick 180: Cordel Iwuagwu, IOL TCU
Lucas Niang is a phenomenal prospect in his own right, but I feel like Iwuagwu often gets overlooked on that TCU offensive line. I named him one of my under-the-radar Big 12 prospects and had this to say about him:
“Iwuagwu is a name that I’ve not heard come up often, and I think part of it is the downturn of TCU’s offense this season. However, when people start to view Jalen Reagor, Lucas Niang, and RBs Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua, they’ll notice Iwuagwu stand out. On tape, the guard is often opening up rushing lanes, particularly in the Ohio State game in 2018.
“Iwuagwu was noticed enough to be invited to the East-West Shrine Game and was a stand-out performer there. Pro Football Network’s own Tony Pauline even said Iwuagwu was the only lineman who could block the aforementioned Bravvion Roy all week long. Iwuagwu has started for multiple seasons and is a team captain, and that experience shows in his refined technique. I think he can slide in at either guard spot, only adding to his value.”
For the Rams, Iwuagwu only adds to the offensive line depth, which could potentially get thinner in the offseason and adds a versatile player who can line up all over the interior of the offensive line.
Round 7, Pick 212: Jaylinn Hawkins, S Cal
For some reason, Hawkins’ stock seems low among NFL circles, despite my much higher grade on him. Hawkins is versatile safety, playing in the box, slot, and deep for Cal throughout his career. He’s an elite ballhawk, leading the Pac-12 in interceptions in 2018 as a junior and tallying 10 career interceptions.
The NFL Scouting Combine will be critical for his draft stock, but his tape indicates a solid athlete in the secondary with good sideline-to-sideline range. Adding him as the third safety to pair with stars like John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp would be outstanding and would let new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley get creative with his defensive packages.