The Los Angeles Rams will make their first 2016 draft pick on April 28. With College all-star games already underway, it is time to look at the Rams biggest draft needs.
The NFL draft is impossible to predict, because professional franchises are investing in unknown commodities. Unlike free agency, the Draft is not a free-for-all as each team has a certain number of selections.
Hence, draft needs consider a player’s value, team’s need and scheme fit. Here are the needs the Rams will address with the No. 15 selection, and throughout the draft.
A quarterback might seem like the biggest draft need, because the Rams finished with the worst offense in the entire NFL. However, selecting a franchise quarterback is difficult at No. 15 overall. In the first round, expect the Rams to consider the best pass catchers.
A big target like Michael Thomas would compliment playmaker Tayvon Austin perfect. Drafting a receiver in the first round helps Case Keenum or whoever wins the Rams starting quarterback position. The Rams will probably base their identity around running back Todd Gurley and a physical defense. Therefore, the Rams could help their game-manager quarterback with a true No. 1 receiver.
The Rams pending free agents Trumaine Johnson, Janoris Jenkins, Rodney Mcleod and Mark Barron were all key starters in 2016. With $32 million in cap space and various roster wholes, will the Rams keeps them all?
The Rams could find a steal in Florida State’s Jaylen Ramsey at No. 15. It is unlikely he falls that far, but he is a versatile defender for the safety or corner position. Otherwise, the Rams could address their secondary in the second round of the draft.
The Rams defensive line also has plenty of pending free agents. Nick Fairley and William Hayes both need new contracts. Chris Long‘s salary is more than $14 million, which is too much for a player with only three sacks in 2015.
Hence, the Rams need to add some defensive line depth in the draft. When the Rams selected Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald in 2014, defensive line was not considered a huge need. One of the top pass rushers might fall to the Rams again at No. 15. Look to Western Kentucky’s Noah Spence as a dark horse for the pick.
If your talking about a value draft selection, the Rams might get the most value from the offensive line position. The Rams invested more than a couple of draft picks along the offensive line, including Greg Robinson in 2014. However, key players including Roger Saffold dealt with injuries during the 2015 season.
Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker or Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin are both valued where the Rams select in the first round. The Rams can also find some inside line help for Gurley in the later rounds.
The 2016 quarterback class will be heavily scrutinized before the April draft. Draft scouts are all torn between Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch and North Dakota State Carson Wentz. Both are seen as developed mental projects, however, one or both might be available for the Rams at No. 15.
Despite the Rams thirst for a franchise quarterback in their new home, the Rams should wait on the quarterback position until the middle rounds. Neither Wentz or Lynch will be a day one starter, so they could address another need. Look for them to fill the void with another late round developmental player like Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook or Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.
Between now and the draft, the Rams must decide on offseason priorities including contract extensions and free agency. Plus, many players will showcase their abilities at pro-days, the Scouting Combine and in this weekend’s Senior Bowl. Therefore, the Rams draft needs will change before the NFL draft.
*All draft values from CBSSports.com.
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