In my last entry at the start of the NFL Scouting Combine, I estimated which ten players seemed to be the most likely targets for the Rams and their 2 first-round selections. A lot has happened since then; the Rams have no starting safeties, Jake Long and Jared Cook were signed, and both starting WR from last year (Amendola and Gibson) left in free agency. Those changes, as well as some of the players’ Combine and Pro Day performances, have shaken up my rankings.
Dropping off the list: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia; Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame; Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford; Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
I still believe that Jones will be an impact player in the NFL, but he seems to be a better fit for a 3-4 defense. Also, with the Jared Cook signing, it would seem extremely unlikely that the Rams take a TE in the first round.
With the Jake Long signing, both tackle spots are filled considering that Rodger Saffold has zero leverage on the Rams to force a trade. Plus, it seems increasingly unlikely that Johnson will escape the top 15 picks.
With those players dropping off, here are the ten players most likely to be selected by the Rams in this month’s draft. Those players noted with an asterisk have been to Rams Park for pre-draft visits, which interestingly enough is all of the players who are not guards or safeties; strange considering their need to fill those positions.
#10 – Eddie Lacy*, RB, Alabama
While I would gladly take Lacy if he fell to the Rams in the 2nd round, the needs at safety, wide receiver, outside linebacker, and offensive guard make him a luxury pick in the first round. Even with his so-so workouts, we know that Jeff Fisher likes workhorse running backs so Lacy should merit at least some consideration with the 22nd pick.
#9 - Keenan Allen*, WR, California
Allen drops a few spots but stays on the list because, despite his lingering leg issues and slow Pro Day 40 time, he could still very well be the best WR available in the draft. He also seems increasingly likely to be available when the Rams pick at 22.
#8 – D.J. Fluker*, OT, Alabama
While he would not be a likely candidate if I were calling the shots for the Rams, they could still look his way considering the injury histories of Jake Long and Rodger Saffold. While Fluker does not have the feet to play left tackle, Saffold could move there if Long were to get hurt, and Fluker would be an upgrade as a run-blocker should Saffold miss time.
#7 – Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Another newcomer to the list, Cyprien continues to creep up in many mock drafts. Considering that the Rams currently have no proven options at safety (sorry, Darian Stewart), Cyprien could be in play with the 22nd pick. Some would suggest that Florida safety Matt Elam would be a better selection here, but he is 3” shorter than Cyprien. No thanks.
#6 – Alec Ogletree*, LB, Georgia
Not much more to say than what I noted before: Perhaps better suited for the middle or weak side, where the Rams already have veterans entrenched, could Ogletree be viewed as a fit for strong side LB as well by the team? If he falls to #22 overall, he could easily fit the bill as best-player-available at that point in the first round. Considering how much nickel defense is played in today’s game I wouldn’t spend such a high pick on a strong side linebacker, but that doesn’t mean the Rams wouldn’t consider Ogletree even with his off-field issues.
#5 – Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Cooper moves up from #9 on the previous list. He may be able to play Center as well, which would offer insurance if Scott Wells were to get injured again.
#4 – Cordarrelle Patterson*, WR, Tennessee
Patterson might now be the most polarizing player in this year’s draft. Some mocks have him in the top 10 while others have him potentially dropping out of the first round. He would definitely be a gamble but you can’t teach his size and athleticism.
#3 – Tavon Austin*, WR, West Virginia
While I am not familiar with this “Taveon” Austin that Tony Softli keeps hyping, Tavon Austin continues to rise in the pre-draft process. Although he was very durable in college, his small frame would likely limit him to slot duty in the NFL. Danny Amendola is gone but the Rams plan to use Jared Cook in the slot, so it remains to be seen what they think of Austin. He may not make it to #16 either, but if he does he could be in play for the Rams.
#2 – Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
He may not make it to #16, but if he does, Warmack will have to merit strong consideration from the Rams brass. Just because they signed Jake Long doesn’t mean they won’t take a guard in the first round, and an O-line of Long-Warmack-Wells-Dahl-
#1 - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Considering the Rams huge need at safety, and that Vaccaro may be the best available player when the Rams pick at #16, he seems to be the most logical choice for them so he stays at #1 on this list.