The Rams Draft look just got markedly different with their trade of BRANDIN COOKS to the Texans. On the one hand, it gives them another Second Round Pick, but logic would indicate that it may have to be used for a replacement wideout for COOKS. Such is the dynamic of the NFL Draft just about every year for multiple teams.
If it’s April, it must be time to realize the annual reality that the Rams will not have a first round Draft Choice again this year. This year’s top pick for them went to Jacksonville to acquire JALEN RAMSEY.
Round 2, Pick 52 K.J. HAMLER WR/RS Penn State 5’9/178 (PP#55) More than a few teams in the League would be hesitant to use their top pick on a smurf-sized wideout, but not the combo of SNEAD/McVAY, IMO. HAMLER is a difference maker and home run threat. He is not only fast, but also incredibly quick and elusive. In addition to his receiving skill, he is an open field jitterbug as a Return Specialist. His stats from the 2019 season don’t even begin to tell the whole story of his play-making ability, as the team was breaking in a new starting QB last season. My guess is that he will more than adequately replace the injury prone COOKS in their Offense.
Round 2, Pick 57 AKEEM DAVIS-GAITHER LB Appalachian State 6’2/224 (PP#58) And now how about some speed and athleticism to add to their Defense. DAVIS-GAITHER made a big impression on scouting folks with his 2019 season at App State: 104 T’s- 14.5 TFL- 5 S’s- 6 QBH’s- 1 INT and 8 PBU’s. Even with WADE PHILLIPS gone, the D is expected to still be a whirling array of blitzing and stunting under new DC BRANDON STALEY. AKEEM is a sideline-to-sideline pursuit guy that can also drop into coverage. Also expect to see him sprinting up and down the field on Special Teams coverage units right away.
Round 3, Pick 84 MATT PEART OT UConn 6’7/318 (PP#82) Some of you will say “who”, but that’s because no one was exactly anxious to televise or watch UConn football in recent years. However, PEART has one of the highest ceilings of any player in this Draft, and it starts with just his pure athletic and size numbers. He looks lean at 318, but take into account his 26 reps in the Bench Press, and that’s with 36 5/8″ arm length. His wing span is a whopping 86 1/2″. Then roll out the fact that he ran a 5.06/40 in Indy, with a 1.75-second 10-yard split. Beginning to get the picture here? Luckily, he was a participant at the Senior Bowl venue, and believe me when I tell you that he showed off his athleticism, as well as the ability and willingness to take instruction from NFL coaches. Despite what some might think, given a new 3-year contract extension, I do not think ANDREW WHITWORTH is playing LT for this team into his 40’s. PEART may be ready to start as early as 2021, which might be what the team has in mind.
Round 3, Pick 104 ANTONIO GANDY-GOLDEN WR Liberty 6’4/222 (PP#105) I wonder if any NFL team has ever drafted two hyphenated last name players in the same year before? Just wondering. GANDY-GOLDEN is the extreme opposite of the size scale from earlier Pick HAMLER. And Antonio is an amazing athlete as well. In 2019, he caught 79 balls at 17.7 ypc, including 10 TD’s. His 4.60/40 is deceptive, as is often the case with tall, long legged athletes that require distance to max out their strides and accelerate. Gandy-Golden makes a large target for his QB with his 77″ wingspan. He’s still developing as a football player, and he’s already very good and productive. He, like PEART, really used the Senior Bowl stage to showcase his ability and potential.
Round 4, Pick 126 JULIAN OKWARA OB/ER Notre Dame 6’4/252 (PP#122) OKWARA had the bad luck to suffer a broken leg back in November of his final year in South Bend. He also fits the description of a collegian who heads for a pro career without a defined defensive position. But his healthy 2018 season stats cry out his overall athleticism and football abilities: 38 T’s- 12.5 TFL- 8 S’s- 21 QBH’s- 1 FF- 1 INT and 1 PBU. He is the younger brother of LIONS DE Romeo Okwara. He also has some awesome physical attributes, as evidenced by his Combine numbers of 10 1/4″ H- 34 3/8″ A and 81 3/4″ Wingspan. I was particularly impressed with his 27 reps in the Bench Press, given his arm length. Another in the list of impressive athletes whose best football may be ahead of them in the NFL.
Round 6, Pick 199 JULIAN BLACKMON S Utah 6’0/187 (PP#204) My memory tells me that you don’t often see an All-Conference CB being moved to S for his senior season, but such was the case for BLACKMON, in that talent rich defense at Utah in 2019. BLACKMON made the switch without a hitch. His stat sheet included 60 Tackles, 4 INT’s, and 8 PBU’s in his new Safety role. He should provide very good depth for the Rams secondary with his versatility. Inconsistent tackling may be his biggest playing flaw, which could be fixable with pro coaching.
Round 7, Pick 234 JASON HUNTLEY RB/RS New Mexico State 5’9/182 (PP#230). Let’s cap off this Draft with another explosive player. HUNTLEY will give them a speedy option in their RB corps with talents similar to this of their top Pick HAMLER. HUNTLEY finally got the starting RB nod as a senior and rushed for more than 1,000-yards. If you watched him in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, you got a peek at his quickness and explosion. The short fellow has excellent balance and is hard to knock off his feet. He has the strength to break through arm tackles out in the open field. This guy could be a very exciting and productive weapon, given a touch count to accommodate his limited size.
This looks like a solid effort with something for 2020, and even more beyond that. It’s need driven, but I do not see that they reached to fill those needs.