If replacing Dante Fowler turns out to be a must for the Los Angeles Rams, there are a few EDGE rushers on the draft board worth looking at. Joshua Uche lists as a “good backup who could become a starter” after receiving a prospect score of 6.26 during the 2020 NFL Combine.
Uche played sparingly for the Michigan Wolverines during his first three years on the team. He cracked the starting lineup in his senior season, getting nine starts in 13 games. Though inexperienced by virtue of games played, his skillset was enough to earn him an All-Second Team All-Conference honors after his senior season.
College Stats and Honors:
2019: 33 Tackles, 10.5 for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one pass deflection, two fumble recoveries
Career: 52 Tackles, 19.5 for a loss, 15.5 sacks, two pass deflections, two fumble recoveries
Honors: Second Team All-Big Ten Conference (2019), Honorable Mention All-Big Ten Conference (2018)
By most accounts, Uche’s speed and first step prowess is an eye-opener for defensive minded coaches. Combined with his natural athleticism, length and flexibility, he possesses the ability to compress the pocket.
He also uses his hands with great maneuverability, which helps him ward off offensive tackles in most cases.
As noted in TheDraftNetwork.com, Uche is a “Wicked quick and bendy outside rusher with the potential of a top riser in this upcoming draft class.”
The Michigan EDGE does not possess your normal size for an NFL edge rusher at 6’1,” 245 pounds, the Rams’ Fowler and Clay Matthews are both 6’3,” 255 pounds. He doesn’t have the preferred size to play EDGE permanently in the NFL, unless he builds mass to his frame.
Because of his size, and of the opposing offensive tackles in the NFL, he could be susceptible to being smothered by lineman on the edge.
His inexperience is another factor that will hinder teams in taking a chance early in the draft. Couple that with a history of a stress fracture in a foot and a torn meniscus in the past, and it just might see him fall victim on draft boards.
Expected Draft Round:
Of course, needs of a particular team vary and their expectations generally may be different altogether. Because of Uche’s profile, it’s difficult to say where he will be drafted. Scanning through mock draft sites, the predictions vary by wide margins.
While I don’t believe Uche has the tools to be selected by the Rams at pick No. 52, if the team has addressed its offensive line needs, I would guess another rusher at No. 84 would be a good spot for the Rams to bring in Uche. If Uche were to be available at No. 104 (newly assigned compensatory pick), taking him here would be their best choice.