11 underrated prospects the Rams should target in the draft
Part of what makes the NFL draft so great is the gems uncovered in the later rounds. Beyond the obvious stars in Round 1, there are a lot of players who exceed expectations and become household names despite being drafted outside the first round.
This year, there are a lot of really good players who will be selected in the second, third, fourth and later rounds, and hopefully the Los Angeles Rams are able to select one of them. We’ve highlighted 11 underrated prospects who the Rams should target because their upside is high and they could go on to become stars.
UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson
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The Rams need a backup quarterback. That much we know. Who the backup will be is still unclear, whether it’s a drafted rookie or veteran signed in free agency. Thompson-Robinson has traits the Rams like in a backup quarterback, from his mobility (645 rushing yards, 12 TDs last season) to his accuracy on short and intermediate throws.
Thompson-Robinson is likely to be a Day 3 pick, which puts him in range for the Rams later in the draft. He could be an option with one of their three fifth- or sixth-round picks, depending on how they value him.
SMU WR Rashee Rice
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Rice is a receiver who plays above the rim and has a frame that makes him a good possession receiver in traffic. He’s projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick but he’s someone who can contribute early on as a No. 3 receiver. Last season, he scored 10 touchdowns in just 12 games, so he has a knack for finding the end zone on offense. The Rams need wide receiver help after trading away Allen Robinson and Rice is a good player to draft and develop for a few years.
NC State G Chandler Zavala
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This isn’t an overwhelmingly strong class of guards but Zavala is getting lost in the shuffle a little bit as a potential Day 2 prospect. According to Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire, Zavala didn’t allow a single sack last season and only gave up one hit on the quarterback. He’s a powerful blocker who can clear running lanes for his backs, while also excelling as a pass blocker on the interior.
Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman
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Tillman gets overshadowed a little bit by his teammate Jalin Hyatt, but he’s an equally talented receiver with big-play ability. He’s on the bigger side, which meshes well with what the Rams need at wide receiver, standing 6-foot-3 with 4.54 speed and a 37-inch vertical. He didn’t blow anyone away with his combine testing, but Tillman has great ball skills and a wide catch radius. He has a similar skill set to Allen Robinson.
Iowa CB Riley Moss
Iowa defensive back Riley Moss
Moss only allowed a completion rate of 47.7% last season and earned a run defense grade of 77.4 from Pro Football Focus, so he can both cover and help in run support. At 6-foot-1, he has great size and he also ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, showing he has the speed to keep up with receivers down the field. In a zone scheme like the Rams’ he could thrive as an outside corner with his ball skills and instincts.
Texas LB DeMarvion Overshown
Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown
The Rams have taken a liking to safeties-turned-linebackers, moving Mark Barron from safety to linebacker and selecting Travin Howard, who made the same move, out of TCU. Overshown is another player who moved from safety to linebacker, possessing good speed and coverage skills on the second level of the defense, and he should only keep getting better as he gains more experience at the position.
San Jose State OLB Viliami Fehoko
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Fehoko had a whopping 50 hurries and 12 sacks last season alone, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s a tough pass rusher to contain on the edge and has the requisite size the Rams like to see at the position (6-4, 276 pounds). He can line up at defensive end or outside linebacker in the Rams’ 3-4 defense and really impact the group as a pass rusher, something Los Angeles is lacking with Leonard Floyd gone.
Iowa State DB Anthony Johnson Jr.
Iowa State free safety Anthony Johnson, Jr.
Johnson played cornerback before moving to safety, but he could play either position in the NFL. His position flexibility will make him an even more intriguing prospect for teams seeking secondary help, which the Rams absolutely are. He misses too many tackles at times but he’s solid in coverage and only allowed 19 receptions on 29 targets last season with two interceptions.
Purdue CB Cory Trice Jr.
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Trice’s stock has risen in the last couple of months after running a 4.47 at 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds, showing teams he has the size and speed to play in just about any scheme. But he’s particularly good in zone coverage, which the Rams utilize a lot. He’s physical as a tackler and at the line of scrimmage when pressing receivers, and although he doesn’t have the inside-outside versatility that some cornerbacks do, he’s an impressive boundary defender.
Old Dominion TE Zack Kuntz
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Not many tight ends can run a 4.55 in the 40, jump 40 inches in the vertical and post a short shuttle time of 4.12 seconds at 6-foot-7. There’s a lot to work with when it comes to Kuntz’s skill set, and though he does need to improve his hands and route running, he’s a project worth taking a chance on. At the very least, he could contribute as a big body in the red zone, which the Rams could use.
Kansas State CB Julius Brents
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Brents was another standout from the combine, running a 4.54 in the 40 and jumping 41.5 inches in the vertical. Like Trice, he’s a perfect fit in a zone defense with his size and movement skills, as well as his willingness to tackle. He only allowed a passer rating of 57.7 in coverage last season and had four interceptions with just three touchdowns allowed. Brents would be a fantastic pick for the Rams in Round 3 if he falls that far.