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LA Rams 2017 NFL Draft Recap

Hello Rams faithful,

It’s a new year for the Los Angeles Rams and hopefully a better outlook from last season. Jared Goff is in year two and new head coach Sean McVay is an offensive guru that’ll point him in the right direction. Wade Phillips was brought in from the Denver Broncos to guide this defense back to winning ways. A lot of new changes for this team and a positive vibe for the first time in a while. The Rams are making all the right moves and trying to be relevant again. The defense has some top notch players and the offense is slowly gaining play-makers. The only thing the Rams can do is take it one step at a time and the first step was this year’s draft. How will these youngsters help the team get better? Let’s charge on through and take a look at the new players.

-2nd Round, Pick #44: Gerald Everett – Tight End (South Alabama)

  • The Los Angeles Rams have very young and experienced tight ends on the roster. Tyler Higbee is currently the starter, but most teams don’t draft a guy in the second round to ride the bench when there isn’t defined starter on the roster. Everett should get every opportunity to start week one, or the very least be in a rotational role. One of the off-season themes for the Rams was to get weapons around ‘franchise’ quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams started the draft in the right direction. Everett is already getting Jordan Reed type comparisons during training camp and it only makes sense as to why. Sean McVay used and abused his tight ends last year with the Washington Redskins and I expect him to do the same with his new group.

-3rd Round, Pick #69: Cooper Kupp – Wide Receiver (Eastern Washington)

  • Cooper Kupp is going to be the next Wes Welker type of player. Although Kupp is much bigger than Welker was and is more of an Eric Decker, which is the comparison Mr. Kupp is receiving. Kupp is listed as the starting slot receiver already before the first week of the regular season. Kupp was a stud in college and holds multiple records at the FCS level. Kupp should become fast friends with Jared Goff and has the potential to lead all rookies in receptions. He plays best in the slot and is bigger to take advantage of the smaller corners. I have high hopes for this young prospect and he’ll become a tremendous asset to this team.

-3rd Round, Pick #91: John Johnson – Safety (Boston College)

  • The Rams need secondary help. They’ve had inconsistent play from the back end of the defense and desperately need to upgrade. John Johnson brings in an ascending player eager to improve his play in order to help this team. Most rookies start at the bottom of the depth chart, so Johnson will have to work his way up if he wants to make the final roster. Johnson has played both corner and safety and if they want to keep him around, the team can also put slide him down into a corner role if need be. Versatility is never a downside to a player and for a team that’s secondary is the biggest weakness on the defensive side of the ball, Johnson should be able to make the team.

-4th Round, Pick #117: Josh Reynolds – Wide Receiver (Texas A&M)

  • Josh Reynolds had an underrated career at Texas A&M. He had 30 receiving touchdowns during his collegiate career and racked up 2788 receiving yards in three years. Reynolds is the big red zone target the Rams have lacked in recent years. I loved this selection before the addition of Sammy Watkins through a trade a little over a week ago, but Watkins has an injury history and if he has to miss any time, Reynolds can step in. The NFL is a passing league and it never hurts to have a deep core at the wide receiver position. Reynolds is currently on the roster bubble with the addition of Sammy Watkins. Along with Watkins, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin and Cooper Kupp are expected the make the final roster, which would leave one, maybe two hopeful receivers to make the final cut. Josh Reynolds has the tools and talent to make a difference, but the question is if he can transpire that onto the field. I hope he does, but we’ll have to watch some more pre-season games to find out.

-4th Round, Pick #125: Samson Ebukam – Linebacker (Eastern Washington)

  • The Rams are transitioning into a new look 3-4 scheme with the addition of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. All four starting linebacker spots are currently taken, but no one has emerged as a heavy favorite as a rotational player quite yet. The first wave of linebackers are one of the best groups in the league, but the depth just doesn’t cut it. Samson Ebukam will be placed as an outside pass rusher on the defense. The Nigerian prospect is still learning the game of football and has the talent to contribute on the field at some point, but as for now he’ll need to develop and start special teams.

-6th Round, Pick #189: Tanzel Smart – Defensive Tackle (Tulane)

  • With the Rams moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme, that makes the front line very thin with all the position switches. Assuming Aaron Donald comes back, he and Michael Brockers are sure bets to be two of the three down linemen, but the third spot is yet to be determined. Tanzel Smart is a good player that can get quick penetration upfront. Smart will probably start his career on the bench, but he could emerge as one of the favorites to be in a rotational role moving forward. There is also the possibility of him having a huge role on the team depending on the status of Aaron Donald’s holdout, but for now don’t expect nothing more than a tackle or two on a weekly basis from the Tulane product.

-6th Round, Pick #206: Sam Rogers – Fullback (Virginia Tech)

  • The Rams have bruising running back Todd Gurley and they want to implement a power running scheme to help him power through the line of scrimmage to get to the second level. Sam Rogers is the only fullback on the roster, so as long as he provides the skills head coach Sean McVay is looking for Rogers should easily make this roster. Gurley struggled last year as the box was always stacked, this year he’ll get a little more help. Good pick here in the sixth round to help generate the power running game.

-7th Round, Pick #234: Ejuan Price – Defensive End (Pittsburgh)

  • Ejuan Price is listed as a defensive end, but on the Rams first depth chart they list him as one of their outside pass rushing linebackers. I mentioned earlier that the linebacking core depth is not the deepest and could use improvement. Price comes in with very good qualities teams look for in a player, but scouts ran away from him because he is undersized at 5’11” and lacks ideal speed pass rushers are required to have. We’ve seen players be unaffected by size at the NFL level for years; could Ejuan Price be the next? He was very productive at Pittsburgh accumulating 23 tackles for a loss which was enough to garnish second best in the FBS. If the Rams keep Price around, they’ll certainly bulk him up and give him special team duties for a season or so until he is ready for the jump onto the defense. Then when he’s mentally and physically prepared, Price could be a nice piece for the team. We’ll see how this one pans out, but for now it appears like a good selection with low risk, high reward.

The Los Angeles Rams added some play-makers around Jared Goff and drafted some necessary pieces to the defensive side of the ball in the new look scheme. On paper this team looks ready to make a jump forward, but as always the on field production gets you wins in this league. This team is ascending in the right direction and getting the players and coaching personnel they truly needed to be successful. We’ll see how they compete in the very tough NFC West division this year, but until then, have a great day!

-Austin Thomas

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