The NFL Draft is finally behind us, and it’s time to gear up for whatever the NFL has planned for the summer. Whether that be OTAs and or a more traditional training camp with preseason games, it’s an exciting time for football fans.
And as crazy as a time it is to be an NFL fan time the Rams had a crazier time in the draft. Not in a bad way but in a more interesting approach that leaves with many questions for the season. Their approach shocked a lot of fans, but it wasn’t a wasted draft.
The draft is a great way to examine what the team thinks of its greatest weaknesses are. And clearly, they believe in the strength of the offensive line. Both Les Snead and Sean McVay echoed confidence in the 11 players in the Rams’ offensive line room during their post-draft press conference. Snead also made it clear that any offensive lineman they drafted would not crack the game-day roster.
This draft wasn’t loaded with talent like at wide receiver and quarterback, but it does feel like a wasted opportunity to not, at least, add one lineman for extra depth. However, Snead did note they have a “handshake agreement” with Iowa lineman Aleric Jackson during the post-draft press conference.
Speaking of wide receivers, the Rams took three of them in the draft. They took Tutu Atwell with the 57th pick, Jacob Harris with the 141st pick and Ben Skowronek with the 249th pick.
Atwell might not seem like the best pick for their first pick; however, he’s just what the doctor prescribed. The Rams needed a deep threat for Matthew Stafford to throw to, and DeSean Jackson is only as good as long as he can stay healthy. The Rams needed a contingency plan if Jackson goes down with an injury. He’s also on a one-year contract, so we’ll definitely see more of Atwell next season if he doesn’t get called on sooner.
The next two receiver picks are interesting because they are bigger guys some might call them tight ends. NFL Network even lists Harris as a tight end. These two have one purpose right away – special teams and special packages.
When McVay was asked Saturday about taking Skowronek in the seventh round, he noted how versatile he is. He even went as far as to say he could use him in the goalline package and as a full back. Skowronek even mentioned he loves blocking when he spoke to the media.
Both Skowronek and Harris will also compete for a spot on special teams. The big blind spot for the Rams was the punt team. Not that Johnny Hekker did an outstanding job, but there were plenty of times the offense stalled, or the punt team allowed huge gains to opposing punt returners. Fans might not notice their impacts right away, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t contributing.
The final offensive pick was the most peculiar pick, with the Rams taking running back Jake Funk with the 233rd pick. Like Skoeronek and Harris, Funk has plenty of special teams upside. Considering he’s entering a crowded running back room with Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones and Raymond Calis. It’s doubtful he makes the game-day roster. However, the Rams got a great outside the tackles runner once he develops a little bit more.
The only thing is he tore his right ACL twice, ending his 2018 and 2019 seasons. However, while at Maryland, he acquired 31 tackles while on special teams. As a running back, he wasn’t particularly flashy, especially considering his injury history. However, he amassed 517 yards in five games in 2020.
The biggest hurdle for him was a team taking a chance on him with his injury history. The Rams were that team. The only question is, could he have been an undrafted free agent signing instead.
Finally, there are the five defensive players the Rams took this year. It was the position with the most departures this offseason and was looking pretty shallow across the board.
The most promising is cornerback Robert Rochelle from Central Arkansaw. He might not come from the more prominent college programs – however, with the low depth at the position, he’s poised to fight for a starting job. For a fourth-round pick up he could turn into the next Jordan Fuller. He even recorded 10 interceptions during his college career.
The most surprising pick for the defense was Chris Garrett from Division II school Concordia-St. Paul. In his final two seasons, he recorded 30.5 sacks and set a D-II record with a career 15 forced fumbles. Considering he’s a D-II player, could he have been available to sign after the draft? Maybe. But the Rams must seem something special in him to take him with their final pick of the draft.
Collectively I give the entire draft a B+. Fans might not like this year’s draft pick, but the Rams improved the special teams and, hopefully, getting future franchise stars in the process. Also, trading back for the extra picks was a sound move. For the defensive picks, I give them an A-. Raheem Morris got a great crop of young talent to develop that has a lot of potentials to see a lot of playing time this season. On the other side of the ball, I give the offensive draft a B. There is a lot of versatility in the Rams 2021 draft class, but many won’t see the field except on special teams. Which, for late draft picks, is expected. Also, not draft a lineman is going to hurt them going forward.
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