Which positions will the LA Rams bolster in the NFL Draft?
by Michael Obermuller
If you were wondering whether or not the Los Angeles Rams have a first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft — they don’t. In fact, the franchise that has not had a first round selection since drafting Jared Goff in 2016 is not scheduled to have another until 2024.
Rams general manager Les Snead has preferred trading his first rounders for proven NFL talent, which has had mixed results over the years. His most recent decision to acquire quarterback Matthew Stafford actually reversed a previous deal he made to move up for Goff in 2016 (a mistake that would normally get a GM fired), but the Rams sustained success has lengthened the leash on Snead’s strange tenure.
Now that the Goff era has met its end in LA, we all finally get to see what Sean McVay can do with a top 15 quarterback talent. Here are the other major ins and outs that the Rams have made so far this offseason.
|Leonard Floyd, EDGE||Matthew Stafford, QB||Jared Goff, QB||Blake Bortles, QB|
|DeSean Jackson, WR||John Johnson, S|
|Devlin Hodges, QB||Samson Ebukam, EDGE|
|Austin Blythe, C|
|Troy Hill, CB|
|Michael Brockers, DT|
|Gerald Everett, TE|
|Josh Reynolds, WR|
As you can see, the cap-stretched Rams franchise has not had much flexibility in free agency after their recent trades for stars like Stafford and Jalen Ramsey. Necessary extensions for Aaron Donald, Robert Woods and others have not helped either. That all makes the NFL Draft crucial for Los Angeles, and they’ll have six picks to hit on from rounds two through seven (headliners are one second and two thirds).
With holes on the roster and not much money left to fill them, what areas should the Rams target with their top picks in 2021? Here are a few dream prospects for LAR in rounds two and three at positions of need.
3. Nick Bolton, ILB (Missouri)
Some analysts have Nick Bolton falling to the third or fourth round due to his 2020 season, while others rave about his consistency as a run-stopper and tackler at Missouri. Pro Football Focus has him as the second-highest graded linebacker behind Micah Parsons the past two seasons, so the potential is there so long as the pro-fit is right. I believe it could be in Los Angeles.
The Rams need an inside linebacker that does nothing but tackle, and Bolton totaled 198 of those during his Junior and Sophomore campaigns combined. During those two seasons, 16.5 of those stops were for a loss, with an added three sacks and three turnovers forced (two interceptions). Considering the Rams have been cycling through sub-par inside backers like Micah Kiser, Kenny Young and Troy Reeder for years now, Bolton could be an asset that immediately steps into a major role on this defense.
2. Creed Humphrey, C (Oklahoma)
With the departure of center Austin Blythe in free agency, Snead is left with a glaring problem at the heart of his offensive line. Brian Allen could be slated to start in 2021, but the former fourth round pick has yet to prove he can perform at the NFL level (58.6 PFF grade in 563 snaps in 2019). LAR needs to draft it’s center of the future, and that could be Oklahoma Sooner Creed Humphrey.
The 2020 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year did not allow a sack on 401 passing plays. His intelligence and toughness help project him as a prospect that should go somewhere from rounds two to four, and his durability marks another trait for the Rams to rely on (compared to a talent like Landon Dickerson out of Alabama).
1. Aaron Robinson, CB (UCF)
Assuming no trades occur, the Rams first selection in 2021 will be at No. 57 overall, and they should really consider using this pick on a versatile defensive back like Aaron Robinson. The UCF product generally lined up in the slot in college, but scouts think he could play outside if need be. He’s a 5’11” press-corner that thrives at in your face man-to-man coverage, and his intensity should get him some looks in the second round (15 pass breakups the past two seasons).
Robinson would slot in behind Ramsey and Darious Williams in 2021, as the Rams nickel CB (replacing Troy Hill). His style is similar to the All-Pro CB1 in LA, and Ramsey could even assist in the development of the rookie as a mentor of sorts. It’s possible Robinson may not make it to No. 57, but some other similar options at interior corner or CB/S hybrid include names like Asante Samuel Jr., Jevon Holland and Shaun Wade.