May 9, 2018

The Rams found themselves in a rather unique, perhaps enviable position, when the 2018 Draft began. They had no Picks until Round 3, and weren’t bothered by that in the least. Why is that, you might ask, if you have failed to pay attention to their off-season player acquisitions over the past month or so. The team added some glamorous big names to their roster including MARCUS PETERS, AQUID TALIB, NDAMUKONG SUH, BRANDON COOKS & RAMIK WILSON. So their task heading into the Draft was to use their volume of later picks to bolster roster depth. And that is exactly what they proceeded to do.

They needed to find depth along the OL and used 3 Picks to do so, starting with their first choice in the Draft in Round 3, with the very athletic, and sporadically productive OT JOE NOTEBOOM from TCU. He tests well and has size and length. But he also looks slow and awkward at times. They are likely going to try to groom him to replace aging vet ANDREW WHITWORTH, in a year, hopefully two. Then in Round 4 they picked BRIAN ALLEN/OC/Michigan State who will likely be groomed as an eventual replacement of JOHN SULLIVAN. Just for good measure they got JAMIL DEMBY/G/T/Maine in Round 6. He may have the most potential, but it will be a while before he might be ready to compete at either OT, or more likely OG for playing time.

The team used 7 total Picks to strengthen their front 7 depth on D. The two best might be MICAH KISER/LB, Pick 147 and JOHN FRANKLIN/DE, Pick 136. TRAVIN HOWARD, Pick 231 may be the most useful player in the whole group for them. The tweener SS/LB could be the Rookie to contribute the most for them in 2018. He should be a true stud on Special Teams and has the ability to bounce between roles as an in-the-box S and a solid coverage LB.

I am not sure what position labeL they will tag OGBO OKORONKWO with, but the young man can really bring the heat as a situational Edge Rusher. They got him at Pick 160, primarily because he doesn’t have a perfect fit as he transitions to the pro game, but count me amongst those who had him ranked as a 3rd Rounder (#89) because of his edge-rush ability. WADE PHILLIPS/DC should certainly be able to find ways to use his skill set.

I also like the selection of RB/JOHN KELLY/Tennessee at Pick 176 in Round 6. He’s a multi-skill set player similar to a guy he used to share snaps with named ALVIN KAMARA. He’s not the speedster KAMARA is, but he can run and catch, and should have a good shot to become the top backup RB to WORLEY.

Looking for a sleeper, then keep your eyes on Round 6 Pick SEBASTIAN JOSEPH/DL/Rutgers. He is a solid athlete who got lost in the shuffle for a team that was a mess in recent seasons. He needs more weight room strength, but plays with strong hands and gets a quick jump out of his stance. WADE just might be able to tap into what the Rutgers coaches could not much of the time in college.

In a round about way give the team credit for finally ending the annual riddle of how to get the most out of TAVON AUSTIN, by trading him to the Cowboys. This is pretty much an example of addition by subtraction, including the departure of a salary number well above his production level in a RAMS uniform. He was a darling of Jeff Fisher, but never panned out at the pro level in a RAMS uniform.

What I will be watching from this group of Picks is exactly how many make the 53-man roster in September. This draft class only helps if almost all of them make the roster and see the field, at least on Special Teams. Their second line units are not strong right now, and these Picks must be given the chance to provide an upgrade. This should be a pretty nice haul, and allow them time to plan ahead for the 2019 Draft when they return to having most of their Picks, especially in the Top 100 where starters are found.

When you roll in the rest of the veteran additions this could mean a healthy depth boost for the roster of a contending NFC team. When you trade away your top picks you must adjust your expectations and for the short term and build from the bottom end of the roster on up.