Los Angeles Rams Draft Forecast
With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Los Angeles Rams are having quite the eventful offseason. The team is moving from St. Louis to return to L.A., where they haven’t played a game since 1994, and the transition has been anything but quiet. As if the Los Angeles lights were not bright enough already, the NFL announced that the Rams would be featured on HBO’s award winning documentary, Hard Knocks. The show follows one team each year during it’s preseason-training camp, and often features the newly acquired rookie talent.
There are multiple reasons this was the year for the Rams to make a splash leading up to draft night. Since joining forces in 2012, Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead have compiled a record with the Rams of 27-36. Surely the duo must feel their seats getting warmer, as the National Football League is not one where mediocre results lead to long-term job security. Also, the move to a massive market like L.A. definitely didn’t hinder a move of the sort. Former All-Pro running back and current NFL analyst shared this opinion, saying, “When you go to L.A., you have to have some type of bite. You’re going to a city where you have to appease the fans and the media. Now people are going to tune in and watch. They have the first overall pick.”
Round 1, Overall Pick #1
Unless the Rams plan to send the entire football universe into a blaring state of shock, this pick will be a quarterback. It is widely believed the team will draft either North Dakota State product Carson Wentz, or Jared Goff, who played for Cal. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as to which signal caller the team covets more. On Friday, April 15th, Jarrett Bell of USA Today polled six general managers around the league, asking who they believed the Rams would select, and the results definitely don’t help clear any smoke. Two replied Goff, two replied Wentz, and two replied inconclusive. There’s no way to know for sure, but lets look at the argument for both players to determine who is more likely to be taken by the Rams at #1 overall.
Argument for the Rams to draft Carson Wentz
From a physical analysis, Wentz bests Goff in every major category. He’s an inch taller and weighs in more than 20 pounds heavier. Wentz also has longer arms, larger hands, and performed better in all major combine tests, boasting particularly impressive scores in the 40-yard dash and broad jump. In addition to sheer athleticism, Wentz has the stronger arm of the two quarterbacks, which would help him on deep throws in the NFL. At first glance, playing at a small Division 1-AA school would seem to be a knock on Wentz, due to playing against less challenging opponents. However, history has something interesting to say about this. In the 1995 NFL Draft, Jeff Fisher as head coach of the Houston Oilers was faced with a tough decision between two quarterbacks with the third overall pick. One of the prospects was a proven name from a huge football program, Kerry Collins, of Penn State. The other was an athletic prospect named Steve McNair from a small Division 1-AA school, Alcorn State University. Fisher opted to draft the McNair, who would go on to have great success and earn an MVP award. Perhaps Fisher will once again take a leap of faith in the direction of an athletic quarterback despite his small-school pedigree.
Argument for the Rams to draft Jared Goff
While Carson Wentz may have more impressive physical traits, Jared Goff is the more proven passer. Wentz had 45 passing touchdowns in two years, while Goff threw for 96 touchdowns in three seasons while playing against tougher competition. Goff’s production was simply incredible at Cal, starting from the day he got there and never looking back. He is coming off his third season at Cal, where he made the first team All-Pac-12 team, throwing for 4,719 yards and 43 touchdowns on the season. He holds 26 records at the school, which is the same one that produced NFL stud Aaron Rodgers. In addition to his more proven resume, it also doesn’t hurt that Goff is a big name and is a California native, which the city of Los Angeles would enjoy.
Verdict: The Los Angeles Rams will draft Jared Goff
While Wentz is a high-upside prospect that will inevitably be drafted early, I believe the Rams are slightly more likely to draft Goff. The Rams have won either six or seven games each of the past four years. The Rams boast an elite defense, and feature a running back on offense that will be able to take pressure off of a rookie quarterback. Fisher and Snead know they must win now to keep their jobs, and both believe they’re a quarterback away from competing in the tough NFC West division. Goff is the more pro-ready quarterback, and will give L.A. someone to be excited about right away.
The Remaining Picks: (two in the 4th, two in the 6th)
The Rams gave up the majority of their draft capital to acquire the most valuable pick in the draft, and are left with just four picks after they take a quarterback with that first pick. The picks they own are the 110th, 113th, 177th, and 190th overall. It is uncommon, though not impossible, to land immediate impact starters during that late in the draft. That being said, the Rams will definitely look to add a few guys who can provide depth or potential down the road. Let’s take a brief look at the two positional groups where the Rams can use the most help; assuming the quarterback position is addressed with the first overall pick.
The Rams have a very weak receiving core and will want to give their brand new quarterback some quality targets to get the ball downfield to. Wide Receiver Kenny Britt led the team in receiving yards, with an uninspiring total of 681 yards on 36 catches. Tavon Austin is the team’s best playmaker in the open field, with nine total touchdowns last year, but is more suited playing a do-it-all gadget role, as opposed to playing outside like a typical wide receiver. Unfortunately, rounds four and six will likely be too late to snag a wide receiver that can come in and start right away. That being said, pass-catching tight ends can typically be found in these rounds. The Rams cut their underwhelming and overpaid tight end, Jared Cook, this offseason and will likely take a long look at the position in these rounds.
Janoris Jenkins left this offseason to sign a lucrative deal with the New York Giants, and free safety Rodney McLeod left to join the Philadelphia Eagles. The Rams have already made an attempt to replace the two starters by signing players through free agency, and may not be done based on the fact that they just met with free agent safety Donte Whitner. However, Jenkins and McLeod were both solid starters to lose, and the defensive secondary is a position where the Rams may gamble on an athlete later in the draft.
Whomever the Rams end up selecting first overall will carry the present and future of the organization on his shoulder pads. There is uncertainty surrounding the later rounds, and you can never rule out another draft day trade with Les Snead and Jeff Fisher calling the shots. One thing is for certain, however. Football is back in Los Angeles, and it did not return quietly.