Rams Best Case Scenario 2022 NFL Draft Picks: Los Angeles Should Look To Add To Secondary.

The defending Super Bowl champions will typically not be in the conversation among the top draft picks. However, the Rams take it to another level as their first pick in this year’s draft doesn’t come until #104 overall, the second-to-last selection on Day 2. However, general manager Les Snead has made a habit of finding contributors in the middle-to-late rounds. This article will identify some of the players he might have his eyes on.

Rams Offseason Recap

The first big domino to fall this offseason for the Rams was the retirement of left tackle Andrew Whitworth, but the team was well-prepared and resigned Joe Noteboom to a team-friendly deal to be their starter at the pivotal position. Noteboom started the Rams’ divisional round playoff game against the Buccaneers in place of Whitworth and played admirably.

The Rams also made the difficult decision to part with a hometown favorite Robert Woods as he’s recovering from an ACL tear, but they sent him to a playoff competitor in the Titans he asked to play for. Allen Robinson was brought in on a three-year deal after a down year in Chicago, while Odell Beckham Jr. could still be resigned.

Still, some notable departures outside of Whitworth also defined the offseason. Former Super Bowl-winning legend Bobby Wagner was brought in to be a starting linebacker next to Ernest Jones. Austin Corbett’s departure leaves a hole at guard, Von Miller leaves the pass-rush weaker, and Darious Williams will leave the cornerback room reliant on young players to step up.

Biggest Remaining Team Needs

Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey remains one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL, but the departure of Darious Williams in free agency leaves the team without a key starter. David Long Jr. is also a free agent in 2023, and Donte Deayon remains unsigned. 2021 fourth-rounder Robert Rochell had a solid rookie season, but the Rams will likely add to this group in the draft.

Safety: After losing dynamic secondary talents Josh Johnson and Troy Hill last year, the Rams have Taylor Rapp and Boston Scott entering contract years while Terrell Burgess is only under contract for one more year. Safety will likely be addressed at some point in this draft, and finding versatility will be a crucial point of emphasis.

Tight End: Tyler Higbee has been a significant success as a former fourth-round pick, but he has dealt with nagging knee injuries the last two years. Kendall Blanton and Brycen Hopkins showed promise last year filling in for Higbee, but this is a deep tight end class, and the Rams could look to add to their group at the position.

Running Back: Cam Akers made an incredible comeback in his recovery from an Achilles injury to be a part of the Super Bowl run, but Darrell Henderson is entering a contract year, and Sony Michel remains unsigned. The Rams could use a bruising short-yardage runner as nobody on their roster fits that mold, and they have drafted a running back in each of the last four drafts, so we should expect them to do so again.

Les Snead Draft History and Tendencies

Don’t Over-Emphasize Pre-Draft Process

While many teams send several representatives to the NFL Scouting Combine every year to obsess over milliseconds and inches, the Rams avoid the event. In each of the last three years, the Rams haven’t sent a full complement of scouts, executives, and coaches to the combine. Les Snead and Sean McVay did not attend the event this year.

When you evaluate how athletes will play football in the NFL, it makes sense to evaluate how they played football in college rather than how fast they can run or how far they can jump. The Rams won’t let one bad interview or a poor pre-draft workout take a player off their big board, unlike some teams, and they will always prioritize actual on-field play.

Fits Over Freaks

While other teams obsess over athletic measurables from the NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Days, the Rams make most of their decisions based on actual game performance and overall production. This strategy has allowed them to find starting-level players later in the draft who may not fit typical athletic thresholds other teams have.

Greg Gaines was a former fourth-round pick who has developed into a starter despite being undersized at 6’1”, 313 lbs. Ernest Jones was a key starter in the team’s Super Bowl push despite his 7.49 3-cone coming in the 3rd percentile per MockDraftable. Jordan Fuller ran a painfully slow 4.67-second 40-yard dash (14th percentile) but has been a consistent starter when healthy.

This isn’t to say that the Rams won’t draft athletic standouts. Since Les Snead became the general manager in 2012, they have drafted Jacob Harris, Bobby Brown, Samson Ebukam, Jake Funk, Aaron Donald, and Robert Rochell, all of whom have a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.5 or better out of 10. However, it clearly isn’t the be-all, end-all for the team.

Trades Galore

Les Snead has become known for wheeling and dealing in the NFL draft, especially in the later rounds. In the last five years alone, Snead and the Rams have made 24 total trades, including 13 trades down, six trades up, and five trades involving players. This strategy has continually produced great results for them.

In 2018 they traded away veterans Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree plus later picks to move up and select Brian Allen and John Franklin-Myers. In 2019, they made three trades down and three trades up. In 2020, they made one trade down and a trade with Houston to move off of Brandin Cooks and select Van Jefferson. In 2021, they made three trades down.

This information won’t particularly affect the players I line up for the Rams to keep an eye on with their lone Day 2 pick, but we should expect them to make some moves this year. With seven choices on Day 3, they certainly have the ammunition to make a trade up if a player is sliding down the board who they covet.

Rams Best Case Scenario Third-Round Targets

WR David Bell, Purdue: The combine wasn’t kind to Purdue’s David Bell as he finished with a lousy RAS of 4.03 with a 4.65-second 40-yard dash and a 7.14-second 3-cone drill ranking below the 20th percentile. Ironically enough, one of his top athletic comps per MockDraftable is former Ram Robert Woods.

It’s difficult to ignore his elite production in a tough Big Ten conference, as he finished with 232 catches for 2,946 yards and 21 touchdowns across three seasons. A wide receiver isn’t necessarily a top need for the Rams, but it’s hard to imagine them passing on his production profile if he’s still available at #104.

OT Max Mitchell, Louisiana: Max Mitchell has had a rough go of it through the pre-draft process as his impressive Senior Bowl was quickly overshadowed by poor combine testing. He came in with a RAS of just 5.54 and ranked below the 20th percentile in the 3-cone drill and vertical jump. However, if there’s a team to look past that, it would be the Rams.

Mitchell was the highest-graded offensive tackle in all of college football last season per Pro Football Focus, and he allowed just 13 total pressures on 430 pass-blocking snaps for the Ragin’ Cajuns last year. The Rams likely have their two starting tackles in Noteboom and Rob Havenstein, but Mitchell could be an ideal swing tackle with starting upside.

CB Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State: While the Rams value production over athletic measurables, what if they can get both at a position of need with the #104 pick? That’s where Zyon McCollum comes in, and if he’s still on the board, the Rams should waste no time selecting him. The Rams may even have to trade up for him, which would be a decent use of resources.

McCollum tested with a pristine 10 out of 10 on the RAS scale with 90th percentile or better scores in the 40-yard dash, broad jump, 3-cone drill, and 20-yard shuttle. He’s also 6’2”, 199 lbs, an ideal size for a corner, with long 30 3/4” arms. He was a big-time playmaker for Sam Houston State with 163 tackles, 37 pass breakups, ten interceptions, and six forced fumbles in his four collegiate seasons.

ED Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati: In a typical year, Myjai Sanders would be celebrated for gutting it out and testing at the combine after getting sick and losing 20 pounds in Indianapolis. However, that performance has caused him to go overlooked in a deep, athletic edge class, and it could be to the benefit of the Rams if he falls to #104.

Sanders had a whopping ten pressures on Bryce Young in the College Football Playoff against Alabama’s vaunted offensive line, and he had 27 total pressures in his final four career games per PFF. Sanders is on the older side as a senior who hasn’t consistently dominated against lower-level competition, but if teams let him fall due to those factors and the weight fluctuation, the Rams could take advantage.

RB Dameon Pierce, Florida: Dameon Pierce is one of my favorite running back prospects in this draft class. He was part of a platoon at Florida, so he never got the chance to prove himself as a durable three-down back, but he can absolutely be a bell-cow runner in the NFL.

With a whopping 39 broken tackles on 100 rushing attempts per PFF, Pierce is a 5’10” 220-pound bowling ball who’s tough to bring down in the open field. He’s a beast in pass protection, and he would provide the element of strength and physicality as a short-yardage runner that the Rams’ offense currently lacks.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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