One safety the Rams could target in each round of the 2022 NFL draft

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Will it be safety first for the Los Angeles Rams in the draft this weekend? While they could use help at that position, there are other spots that should be higher priorities – like cornerback and edge rusher.

But at some point, the Rams could add a safety to join a group that’s led by Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess.

Without a first- or second-round pick, finding a Day 1 starter will be difficult, but Fuller started right away as a rookie in 2020 and he was a sixth-round pick, so it can be done.

Here’s one safety the Rams could target in each round of the draft.

3rd round: Kerby Joseph, Illinois

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Joseph is a true free safety, not someone who’s going to line up in the box all that often. He only has one season of college production, however, which came in 2021. Thankfully, that one season was quite impressive.

He picked off five passes, made 57 tackles and recovered two fumbles, finding himself around the ball often in the secondary. He’s not the fastest safety in the world, however, which limits his range a little bit, but he should continue to get better as he gains experience.

4th round: J.T. Woods, Baylor

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Woods can fly for a safety. He ran a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash, which surely helped his draft stock, as did his impressive final two seasons at Baylor. In 2020, he had 46 tackles and three interceptions, which he returned for 92 yards. Last season, 4.5 of his 57 tackles went for a loss, and he picked off five passes with 109 total return yards, including a pick-six.

If Woods can improve his instincts and tackling, he could become a really good safety on the back end, especially in the Rams’ two-high alignment.

5th round: Verone McKinley III, Oregon

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

McKinley isn’t very big, standing just 5-foot-10, but he proved to be a ball hawk at Oregon with 11 career interceptions, six coming last season alone. His standout showing in 2021 could lead teams to consider him earlier on Day 3, but his lack of size and overall speed will prevent him from being drafted much higher.

Despite being smaller, McKinley still comes up to hit in run support, complementing his coverage skills nicely. The Rams could use a player with his instincts in the deep part of the field, and he’d be a completely different safety than Taylor Rapp.

6th round: Smoke Monday, Auburn

Monday is a physical box safety. He had 171 tackles in four seasons at Auburn, but he also picked off five passes, showing good ball skills when passes were thrown his way. If the Rams want a true strong safety to pair with Jordan Fuller, Monday could be their guy late on Day 3.

The Rams should look for a safety who’s better in coverage because the second line of the defense has been fortified with Bobby Wagner, but Monday still has room to develop and there’s a spot for strong safeties in today’s NFL.

7th round: Quentin Lake, UCLA

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Lake, the son of former Steelers All-Pro cornerback Carnell Lake, doesn’t have great speed in the secondary after running a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash. But like Fuller, he uses his eyes and intelligence to make plays on the ball and find tacklers. He finished his college career with six interceptions and 15 passes defensed, totaling 179 tackles in five seasons.

He does have the size teams want in the secondary, being a 6-foot-1 safety, but there are athletic limitations in his game, which is to be expected for a seventh-round prospect.

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