With the NFL draft just days away, the Los Angeles Rams are making their final few preparations for what will be another talented class of prospects.
Los Angeles made the surprising move last week to acquire the first overall pick from the Tennessee Titans by dealing away their first-round pick (No. 15), two second-round selections (Nos. 43 and 45) and a third-round pick (No. 76) in this year’s draft. The Titans also received the Rams’ first and third round picks in 2017.
Although the trade took a significant chunk of the selections that the front office had accumulated over the last couple of seasons, Los Angeles will have five picks in this year’s draft that includes Round 1 (first), Round 4 (110), Round 4 (113), Round 6 (177), and Round 6 (190).
Here is what to expect from the Rams in the 2016 draft:
Quarterback will be the first overall pick
The Rams made the huge move to acquire the first overall pick with their eyes solely set on addressing their quarterback problems by taking one of the top prospects in California’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
There is strong belief that Los Angeles is leaning heavily toward taking Goff with their pick. He’s coming off an impressive junior season that saw him set PAC-12 conference records with 4,719 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes that also helped him earn a First Team All-Pac-12 selection.
Goff has good size at 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs, a strong arm, great pocket mobility, and he has also shown great command of the offense. However, there are several questions surrounding his hand size, accuracy and decision-making at times, and lack of experience playing under center.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that the Rams will take Goff, which leaves the door open to the possibility that Wentz lands with the team. Although he’s still considered a developmental project due to his limited experience at the collegiate level, he has the prototypical body frame at 6-foot-5 and 237 lbs along with the athletic ability. He also took most of his snaps in a pro-style offense and can make all the throws required at the next level.
Regardless of who is taken with the top pick, there will be a promising player in place that will have the opportunity to become the Rams’ next franchise quarterback.
Address skilled position needs in middle of draft
Los Angeles may possess just one selection in the first three rounds, they also have a pair of fourth-round picks that lie within three spots of other. This could provide an opportune time to add more viable targets in the passing game for their new rookie quarterback.
There will be many wide receivers available in the middle of the draft such as Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell, California’s Kenny Lawler, Temple’s Robby Anderson, and Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge. The Rams could also nab a tight end that could provide immediate help to fill the void left by Jared Cook with the likes of South Carolina’s Jerrell Adams, UCLA’s Thomas Duarte, or Harvard’s Ben Braunecke.
In 2015, Los Angeles ranked last in the league in receptions (273), receiving yards (2931), receiving touchdowns (11), and yards per game (183.2). The Rams definitely need some help in the passing game.
Later rounds will be used to add depth in secondary
With their first three selections being used to provide a lift to the offense, the Rams will have a chance to utilize their last two picks to increase depth along positions in the secondary such as cornerback and safety.
Los Angeles lost a couple key starters in their secondary through free agency in cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who chose to sign a five-year, $62.5 million deal with the New York Giants, and safety Rodney McLeod, who inked a five-year, $37 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
That said, the team may already possess some in-house replacements at cornerback to cover the loss of Jenkins with a promising prospect in E.J. Gaines and signed Coty Sensabaugh. The biggest hole to fill will likely be at free safety with Cody Davis being the best current option on the roster.
It may be wishful thinking for the Rams to find a starter in the sixth round of the draft, but keep in mind the front office did find Gaines in that round in 2014.
Source: NFL.com, ESPN.com
Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He is also the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sportsoutwest.com and About.com. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @Bgarcia90.