The 2017 NFL Draft is on the horizon and the Rams are in need of Day 1 talent without a Day 1 pick. Take a look at our final mock draft and see how we see the chips falling for the Los Angeles Rams this year.
Round 2, Pick 37 – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan – Jabrill Peppers has been one of the biggest storylines in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s one of the most talented prospects in the draft, but scouts aren’t sure what he’ll become in the NFL. Peppers is being scouted primarily as a safety despite being primarily a linebacker in college. He played 15 different positions at Michigan and was a productive at all 15. He was a unanimous All-American in 2016, and will be a star in the NFL if he can settle into a position that really suits him. But that may be a big if.
This week NFL teams were told that Peppers tested positive for a diluted sample at the NFL Draft Combine. Usually, this means that Peppers was drinking a ton of water to hide a drug in his system, but he and his team have reiterated that he was sick during the combine and was hydrating in order to perform in the drills. Whether it was intentional or not, the failed tests combined with the uncertainty of his position in the NFL will likely drop Peppers out of the first round.
Peppers is a risk, but for a team without a first round pick and a ton of needs entering the draft, the Rams are in the market to take risks. They need depth at both linebacker and safety. They have one of the best defensive coordinators in recent NFL history with Wade Phillips. Isn’t this the perfect time to take a shot on a talent like Jabrill Peppers?
Round 3, Pick 69 – WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC – Drops have been a theme of Rams receivers over the past few years and adding a possession receiver like JuJu Smith-Schuster may be the remedy the team needs. Even with the addition of Robert Woods in the offseason, adding another hometown kid with great hands would be a nice move for the Rams in the third round. Smith-Schuster has a big frame, is a solid route-runner, and a reliable blocker. He lacks speed, but the Rams have plenty of that with Tavon Austin. He’d be a welcome addition to the crop of receivers in Los Angeles.
Round 4, Pick 112 – OLB Carroll Phillips, Illinois – The Rams could use additional 3-4 edge rushers behind Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn, and Carroll Phillips makes for a nice mid-round option to fill that role. Phillips is a solid tackler who can rush the edge productively. He’s not perfect, but has a good motor and room for improvement. Most importantly, Phillips fits a need on the depth chart, which is what teams should be looking for at this point in the draft.
Round 4, Pick 141 – C Kyle Fuller, Baylor – The Rams added a short term solution at center in John Sullivan and can potentially add a long-term solution here with Kyle Fuller. Fuller was a three-year starter at Baylor, and he’s one of the more talented centers in the draft this year. He saw time in every single game over his four-year career with the Bears, so durability should not be an issue. Fuller has starter potential and may be able to step in to help immediately should the Sullivan experiment fail.
Round 5, Pick 149 – TE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech – Tyler Higbee likely will start the season at tight end for the Rams, but he’s in just his second season and is far from a sure thing. Bucky Hodges makes for an interesting addition to the receiving corps, due to his upside. He’s pushing 6’7 in size and scored at least six touchdowns in each of his three seasons at Virginia Tech. He’s got plenty of work to do in the route-running and hands department, but his overall potential makes him worth taking a look at. Hodges could be an immediate red zone weapon for Jared Goff to play with and could be a steal this late in the draft.
Round 6, Pick 189 – WR Kenny Galloday, Northern Illinois – It may be a bit risky for the Rams to take back-to-back project type receivers, but the late rounds are all about finding the gems that can make a meaningful impact, and Galloday could be that kind of guy. He’s got great size at 6’4 and great speed for his size. He still needs work in the route-running and play recognition departments, but like Hodges, his big frame could be seen as another toy in the chest for Goff to try out.
Round 6, Pick 206 – ILB Jayon Brown, UCLA – The Rams add another hometown player in Jayon Brown with their additional sixth round pick. While his upside isn’t sky high, Brown can provide immediate depth as a 3-4 inside backer with good tackling skills and better coverage skills. The Rams could use some depth in that department.
Round 7, Pick 234 – S David Jones, Richmond – David Jones is a guy who can provide short-term special teams help and potentially long-term safety help. That’s what the Rams should be looking for with their final selection of the draft.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here or check out his podcast Tejas and Lil Stevie.