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The Los Angeles Rams don’t like to draft for need, which is true of most teams in the NFL today. Free agency is used for filling holes so that a team can draft the best player available when they go on the clock without being pressured to address a certain position of need.
But with the Rams making few additions in free agency, they have several positions that should be addressed. We’ve ranked the 10 biggest needs heading into the draft, not all of which will be targeted, giving fans an idea of which direction Les Snead and Sean McVay could go this weekend.
Interior offensive line
(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
The Rams can get by with what they have at inside linebacker. They did exactly that last season and had the No. 1 defense in the NFL. I’m not sure they can get by with Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton as their top options at center. The Rams don’t have to force their pick at No. 57 on a center, but they should absolutely take an interior offensive lineman at some point before the fifth round. If it’s a guard, the Rams could move Austin Corbett – who will be a free agent in 2022 – to center. Adding a guard will also give the Rams some added depth, allowing Joe Noteboom and Bobby Evans to focus on playing tackle. Whether it’s a guard or center, the Rams need help on the interior of their offensive line, and that should be their top priority. Potential targets: Quinn Meinerz, Landon Dickerson, Creed Humphrey, Josh Myers, Drew Dalman, Kendrick Green, Aaron Banks, Wyatt Davis
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
As of now, Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder, Travin Howard and Christian Rozeboom could be in an open competition for the inside linebacker spots. Needless to say, that’s not an overly impressive group, and one that desperately needs an infusion of athleticism, range and young talent. The Rams don’t prioritize this position much, as evidenced by the lack of assets they’ve sunk into it in recent years, which means they probably won’t be picking one early. But it’s still a position they should address before the fifth round, too. Potential targets: Jabril Cox, Baron Browning, Chazz Surratt, Pete Werner, Nick Bolton, Dylan Moses, Isaiah McDuffie, Grant Stuard
(AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
The Rams drafted David Long Jr. in the third round a few years ago but he has yet to make a meaningful impact on defense. This year could be his time to break through after the departure of Troy Hill, who left a big hole at cornerback – specifically slot corner. Darious Williams is currently on a one-year deal, which means he’ll become a free agent next offseason, leaving Jalen Ramsey as the only corner with a long-term future in L.A. That makes this a major need for the Rams. This class is rich with immediate-impact corners with quality prospects throughout the middle rounds. If the right player is there at No. 57, don’t be surprised if corner is the first position drafted by Los Angeles. Potential targets: Asante Samuel Jr., Elijah Molden, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Aaron Robinson, Eric Stokes, Kelvin Joseph, Paulson Adebo, Thomas Graham Jr., Tay Gowan
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Leonard Floyd is a lock to be one of the team’s starting edge rushers, but no one knows who the other starter will be. Justin Hollins, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Terrell Lewis are the likeliest candidates but all have their downsides. Adding another mid-tier talent to this group may not make much of a difference, which could cause the Rams to pass on outside linebackers in the second round, given how long it takes for them to develop in the NFL. But as is the case with cornerbacks, you can never have enough pass rushers. The Rams shouldn’t ignore this position in the draft, given Okoronkwo’s and Lewis’ injury histories. Potential targets: Joseph Ossai, Payton Turner, Ronnie Perkins, Quincy Roche, Patrick Jones II, Charles Snowden, Chauncey Golston
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Morgan Fox left in free agency and Michael Brockers was traded to the Lions. A’Shawn Robinson could become a starter as a result, but regardless, the Rams need depth along the defensive line, specifically at 5-technique (defensive end). It wouldn’t hurt them to add a young defensive end with good length who can rush the passer, which wasn’t a strength of Brockers. Unfortunately, this is a horrible class for interior defensive linemen, one of the worst in recent memory. Don’t expect the Rams to take one early because of that, but a mid-to-late round pick is always possible. Potential targets: Milton Williams, Osa Odighizuwa, Tommy Togiai, Malon Tuipulotu, Janarius Robinson
Nsimba Webster hasn’t cut it as the Rams’ returner and with Joe DeCamillis coming in as the special teams coordinator, a change is likely to be on the horizon. DeCamillis said the Rams need someone who can “drop the ball over the goal line,” and so far, Webster hasn’t been that guy. A quick glance at the Rams’ pre-draft prospect meetings shows they’re looking at return specialists who primarily play wide receiver – and there will be plenty of options in the draft. Potential targets: D’Wayne Eskridge, Demetric Felton, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Dazz Newsome, Kene Nwangwu, Pooka Williams Jr.
(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein will be the starting tackles this season, but neither player is a lock to be back in 2022. Whitworth could retire and if the Rams want to save some money, Havenstein could be moved next offseason. They have Joe Noteboom, Bobby Evans, David Edwards and Tremayne Anchrum, all of whom can play tackle, but finding a true left tackle of the future to take over Whitworth’s post should be in consideration this week. Potential targets: Walker Little, Samuel Cosmi, James Hudson, Brenden Jaimes
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Wide receiver can almost be lumped in with return specialist because many of the returners the Rams could target double as receivers. It’s not a pressing need, given the talent and depth they already have with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and DeSean Jackson, but Jackson is only on one-year deal and a long-term deep threat would be a worthwhile investment. It doesn’t have to just be a speedy pass-catcher, either. The Rams could use a big-bodied receiver capable of winning jump balls and boxing out defenders, especially in the red zone. Really, they could use some variety compared to the route-running technicians that Woods, Kupp and Jefferson are. Potential targets: D’Wayne Eskridge, Anthony Schwartz, Demetric Felton, Tutu Atwell, Simi Fehoko, Nico Collins, Sage Surratt
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
No rookie will be able to replace John Johnson, who signed with the Browns in free agency. In fact, no single player will be able to replace him for the Rams this year. But that mindset shouldn’t prevent the Rams from adding some depth to this position group. Jordan Fuller should be one starter, and Terrell Burgess and Taylor Rapp will compete for the other spot. With how often the Rams play three safeties at a time, they’d benefit from the addition of another playmaker on the back end. One possibility is a bigger hybrid safety/linebacker, with another being a true centerfielder capable of taking away the deep middle. Potential targets: Jevon Holland, Richie Grant, Jamar Johnson, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Divine Deablo
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Tight end is not a position the Rams should draft before the fifth or sixth round. They already have Tyler Higbee and just spent a fourth-rounder on Brycen Hopkins last year, who should be able to take over Gerald Everett’s spot as TE2. Johnny Mundt is a capable blocker and receiver, too. But if Hopkins hasn’t developed the way the Rams hoped, Higbee could use a running mate to take the field in two-tight end sets. Potential targets: Jacob Harris, Kenny Yeboah, Noah Gray, Tre’ McKitty