The Los Angeles Rams don’t have a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but still make big upgrades in our final 7-round mock draft.
Much of the talk regarding the Los Angeles Rams in the 2017 NFL Draft centers on their lack of a first-round pick. Had they not traded up with the Tennessee Titans a year ago to get quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams would be picking at No. 5 overall. Instead, they have to wait until the second round (37th overall) to make their first selection Yet, that doesn’t mean they can’t find players to help the team continue progressing.
This is one of the deeper draft classes in recent memory, with quality being found deep in numerous positions. Thus, there should be players in this class that will be hugely important to the Rams in the 2017 season and hopefully beyond.
When looking at what the Rams need to do in the 2017 NFL Draft, there are areas of concern on both sides of the ball. Goff needs some help so he can actually develop on offense. Meanwhile, there are holes that need filling on the defense, specifically in the secondary.
So, with the fifth pick of the second round being their first time on the clock, they’ll still have great options. But who do they nab at No. 37 and then beyond. Our final seven-round mock draft for the Los Angeles Rams looks to answer that.
Round 2, Pick 5: Evan Engram, TE – Ole Miss
We’ll talk about this at various points throughout this seven-round mock draft, but the Los Angeles Rams put Jared Goff in a very tough position during his rookie season. The offensive line tasked with keeping the young signal-caller upright often failed to do so, in addition to failing to open the lanes for Todd Gurley to help give the offense some balance. Even worse for Goff, he had a bevy of weapons beyond his running back and everyone not named Kenny Britt (now departed via free agency) was largely unreliable.
After looking to shore up the line in free agency (and later in the draft), the Rams turn their eyes to weapons for their young quarterback. Rather than reach for a wide receiver with the No. 37 overall pick, though, they get a potential game-changer at tight end in Evan Engram out of Ole Miss.
In case you didn’t know, the Rams tight ends right now will ultimately just make you sad to see on a depth chart. While Engram isn’t the complete tight end that O.J. Howard is due to his slighter frame for the position, he may be the most explosive player at his position. For evidence, just look at his ridiculous Combine numbers that included a 4.42-second 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical jump. That from a tight end who is 6-3, 234 pounds.
Engram can step in right away and be a dynamic receiving threat and safety valve for Goff as the young quarterback continues to learn and get acclimated to the league. In doing so, Engram could also serve as a home run threat as he has that type of game-breaking ability. If the Rams want him to block, they’ll need for him to add plenty more muscle. Right away, though, he’s a lethal and much needed weapon for Jared Goff.
Round 3, Pick 5: Josh Jones, SS – NC State
With T.J. McDonald both suspended and then signing with the Miami Dolphins, the Rams now have a glaring hole at strong safety. They should be fine at free in coverage, but they’re lacking in terms of that in-the-box type player that can come up against the run and also lay the lumber. It’d be great if that player could also handle himself in coverage, but that’d be asking a lot from most rookies. For NC State product Josh Jones, though, he should be able to deliver.
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The one thing that Jones will be able to do right away is help contribute in coming up to defend against the run. At 6-1, 220 pounds, the former Wolfpack star delivers a thump whenever he gets downhill to make a tackle. Even better, Jones is more than willing to come up and make that type of play. When you see his film, it’s clear that he lives for the physicality of the game and the position. He’s not a dirty player by any stretch, but he wants to put the opposing player in front of him on his back. You have to love that from a young player, especially playing at strong safety.
What’s more, Jones showed at the Scouting Combine that he’s an elite athlete, furthering his overall potential at the NFL level. He tested through the roof across the board with a 4.41-second 40-yard dash, a 37.5-inch vertical jump, a 132-inch broad jump and 20 reps on the bench for good measure. He has the physical tools clearly to be a problem when asked to cover as well.
However, his coverage abilities and his sometimes over-aggression in pursuit can all come down to coaching. Once he gets in an NFL system — especially under Wade Phillips — he’s going to be a star and getting him in Round 3 is a coup for LA.
Round 4, Pick 5: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR – USC
As mentioned when talking about Engram, the Rams didn’t do Jared Goff any favors at all in regards to the offense they stuck him in charge of. His weapons were lackluster, better only than the protection that the Cal product at quarterback got as a rookie. However, LA made a concerted effort to try and improve the offensive line with the signing of Andrew Whitworth in free agency. Now they go back to skill position well to give Goff another weapon in addition to the Round 2 tight end.
Just a mere few months ago, JuJu Smith-Schuster out of USC was in the conversation for the top wide receiver in the draft. His stock hasn’t just fallen, but rather has plummeted since as he’s looked at as a back-end Day 2 selection with the potential to fall to Day 3, which he does for the Rams to their delight.
When you look at the other receivers in this draft class at the top like John Ross, Mike Williams and Corey Davis, they all have elite separation ability in terms of their speed, or elite size, or both. Smith-Schuster doesn’t have either, but he’s a strong, savvy player with great hands who was immensely successful in college. He has a heart that might be unparalleled in this draft and is going to put it all on the field every time out. Not only would Goff benefit from having that sure-handed threat, but also that mentality and leadership in the huddle.
Round 4, Pick 34: Jourdan Lewis, CB – Michigan
Despite how poorly they finished the season, including a loss in the Orange Bowl, the Michigan Wolverines boasted one of college football’s best defenses a year ago. Under Jim Harbaugh, that’s not much of a surprise as that’s one of his calling cards. However, an interesting wrinkle of Harbaugh’s defense is the amount of responsibility he puts in the hands of his cornerbacks. Many times, they’re left on an island to fend for themselves or be the goat. That’s the iron that Jourdan Lewis is cut from entering the NFL.
Throughout his career with the Wolverines in college, Lewis proved to be more than capable in that role, playing two years as a starter on the outside. He’s tremendous in press coverage with great quickness, twitch and footwork when up on his man. Though it’s not his strength, he’s capable in off coverage as well. However, many teams have him pegged as a slot corner because of his size at 5-10, 188 pounds.
Yes, that type of size means that Lewis isn’t going to win many 50/50 balls with someone like Mike Evans right away. However, if he’s asked to cover No. 2s opposite of Trumaine Johnson, that’s still a role I believe Lewis can fill. You don’t have the success he did at Michigan (against Big Ten competition) and suddenly become too small to be any kind of effective. Cover corners can cover, and Lewis is a cover corner that the Rams should bring into the fold.
Round 5, Pick 5: Jessamen Dunker, G – Tennessee State
This might actually be a little high to take Tennessee State guard Jessamen Dunker off of the board. Some people have him falling past the fifth round. Thus, taking him early in the round might seem like it’s too big of a reach. However, the boards of experts don’t really matter when teams are on the clock and get a look at the proverbial piece of clay that’s in front of them when it comes to Dunker.
Standing at 6-4, 318 pounds, Dunker clearly has the size necessary to be a force at guard after playing at tackle with Tennessee State. What’s more, his athletic testing is through the roof for a guy his size. At 318 pounds, he cracked the 5.00-second mark in the 40-yard dash (4.98s) while getting up 23 reps on the bench and jumping 28.5 inches in the vertical. A man that big shouldn’t be able to test that well, but he does.
With all of that natural ability and talent, though, there’s not much else to see with Dunker right now, which is why he slips on many boards. His technique is sloppy and is going to be a work-in-progress right away. However, the Rams need depth and competition on the line. If Dunker is able to push someone like Greg Robinson to actually be good at their job while the rookie also develops, he’ll be a nice asset with big potential moving forward.
Round 6, Pick 5: Chase Roullier, C – Wyoming
The Rams get tremendous value early in the sixth round at a position of need in Los Angeles. John Sullivan has been a stalwart in the middle of the offensive lines for many years. However, as a veteran big fella in the trenches, injuries have befallen him in recent years. Thus, LA needs a Plan B behind him and Chase Roullier could be that immediately.
Many teams have docked Roullier because his build (arm length in particular) isn’t prototypical of a center or interior lineman. However, his tape shows that doesn’t matter. He’s nasty in the trenches and has legitimate road-grader potential in addition to versatility. Todd Gurley will be glad to have the Wyoming product along.
Round 6, Pick 22: Keionta Davis, EDGE/DE – Chattanooga
While productive for Chattanooga against subpar competition for the most part, it’s hard to know where the 6-3, 271-pound Keionta Davis is going to play in the NFL. Though the Rams could use him as depth behind a veteran on the edge, his frame suggests he might be better suited as a three-technique. He’ll need to pick up the nuances of the position, but he’s got the tools to pick it up and develop into an effective player.
Round 7, Pick 16: David Jones, FS – Richmond
Mo Alexander sits at No. 1 on the depth chart for the Rams at free safety. He was quite good one season after a forgettable 2015 rookie campaign. However, with just one year under his belt of quality play, bringing in depth to push him would be wise and David Jones has that. The Richmond product is 6-3 and rangy, in addition to being a good athlete. He needs to refine his technique and craft, but he has potential and is a great depth add late.
Source: Fox Sports