2017 NFL Draft: Los Angeles Rams Pre-Combine 7-Round Mock Draft
After taking Jared Goff first-overall a year ago, the Los Angeles Rams look to further fill out their roster in the 2017 NFL Draft. A full 7-round mock for LA.
If there’s one positive to take away from the Los Angeles Rams’ 2016 season outside of Aaron Donald, it’s that the year is over. There were far more lows than highs for the Rams this past season with Jeff Fisher eventually being fired as a result. Meanwhile, 2016’s No. 1 overall pick, Jared Goff, struggled along with Todd Gurley behind an atrocious offensive line. Now they look to the 2017 NFL Draft with a new head coach to try and take steps forward.
Of course, nothing comes easy for this franchise in their current state. Because of their move up in last year’s draft to take Goff first-overall, they don’t have their first-round pick as it’s owed to the Tennessee Titans. Thus, they don’t make their first selection in the 2017 NFL Draft until the second round.
Even still, the Rams have plenty of needs that they can address. One great thing about their needs and their lack of first-round pick is that the first-round graded prospects are decent heavy. While help is needed, the more pressing needs in LA lie on the offensive side of the ball. Lucky for them, the mid-to-late rounds are loaded with high-upside players that could help this team moving forward.
With that in mind, the Los Angeles Rams are on the clock in the second round of this seven-round mock draft. (Note: This mock was compiled using the Fanspeak On the Clock Mock Draft simulator.)
Round 2, Pick 5: Taylor Moton, OT – Western Michigan
Though some people have projected Taylor Moton out of Western Michigan to be a guard at the next level, my money remains on the notion that he has all of the tools necessary for him to be a quality starting tackle at the next level. With a combination of coveted physical tools, a great frame for an offensive lineman, and an effective body of work throughout his college career, all signs point to him being a fine player wherever he’s slotted, though.
At 6-5, 330 pounds, it’s not hard to be intrigued by Moton right off the bat. The man is a monster and performed as such throughout his career at Western Michigan. Though he didn’t face much high-level competition while playing in the MAC, he showed his potential in the Cotton Bowl with a strong showing against Wisconsin—something that the rest of the Broncos offensive line most definitely cannot say.
Wherever Moton does play at the next level, he’s going to have to work on his technique and footwork to be a stud on the offensive line. The frame and strength are there up top, but quicker players can give him trouble simply because his feet aren’t active and his technique has a tendency to get sloppy as a result. With all of that said, Moton is the high-upside type of player the Rams need on their line. Goff and Gurley deserve better in front of them so they can reach their potential. It may not be immediate, but Moton is the type of player with the potential to be that for the offense.
Round 3, Pick 5: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR – USC
As the college football season and then the draft process following the year have gone on, scouts and pundits have started to sour on JuJu Smith-Schuster. Once a sure-fire first-round pick, the Rams getting him at the start of the third round in this mock draft is not an inconceivable outcome when April rolls around. While his stock might be falling, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a fantastic asset for the Rams.
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The USC product has the body type that NFL teams look for when it comes to a No. 1 receiver. At 6-2, 220 pounds, Smith-Schuster is a big, physical player on the outside that can make contested catches with ease and is a bear to deal with on 50-50 balls. Good luck with press coverage against the former Trojan as his physical tools make him too strong for most cornerbacks to win that matchup at the line. However, this also brings to light his biggest issue, which is a lack of speed.
Whereas other prospects such as Corey Davis or even Mike Williams to a much lesser degree have a combination of size and speed, that’s not the case with Smith-Schuster. However, the Rams are a team that already have a speed threat in their receiver corps—and one they’ve already paid handsomely—in Tavon Austin. Thus, adding a complementary piece and a big-bodied target like Smith-Schuster to the mix could be a huge help to Goff and the offense as a whole. The hate may be going a little far with the USC product, but that could work to the Rams’ benefit in the draft.
Round 4, Pick 5: Pat Elflein, C/G – Ohio State
After taking Moton in the second round with their first selection, the Rams should be far from done when it comes to addressing their offensive line in the 2017 draft. Goff spent most of his rookie season after being named the starter fearing for his life. Thus, Los Angeles needs to be sure to address the line as a whole and start building an entire unit that can both protect their investment at quarterback and help Todd Gurley regain some level of effectiveness.
Pat Elflein is a player that can help the Rams accomplish just that. Throughout his career with the Ohio State Buckeyes, the 6-3, 300-pound lineman played at both guard positions and at center. What’s more impressive is that you might not have even noticed him shuffling without looking for it because he was that effective in each of those positions. He’s incredibly strong and able to control his blocks right off the snap and throughout once he gets engaged.
If there’s one major negative when it comes to the former Buckeye, it’s the fact that he’s not an exceptional athlete or an agile player. Though some have projected him as a guard at the next level, this likely means he’s going to slot in as a center as he doesn’t have the physical tools necessary to deal with run and pass blocking in the NFL on either side of the center. With that said, the Rams need help all over and there’s every reason to believe that Elflein could slot in and be the starter immediately in LA.
Round 4, Pick 34: Damien Mama, G – USC
Once again, the Rams do as they should in this draft and go after an offensive linemen. Looking to the interior once more, they find an absolute mammoth of a man in Damien Mama out of USC. Though he’s listed at 6-4, 325 pounds, this is a player who was once 75 pounds heavier than that. Thus, he’s likely to come in even heavier whenever he’s officially measured. With that said, there is a lot to like about what he offers as a blocker.
Mama is powerful off the snap and became a more versatile player throughout his time with the Trojans. By the time his career ended at USC, he’d shown a much improved ability to overpower his first block and then move to the second level and continue wreaking havoc. With that said, he’s far from a perfect player as he still experiences lapses in his technique. Some would describe the guard prospect as a one-trick pony in terms of his technique and defenders who figure out that one trick can leave him reeling.
Despite those shortcomings, Mama is the type of physical presence that the Rams would love to add to their roster at this point in the draft. Because of his size and what he already does well, there is obvious potential for him to be a starting guard in the league. That day may come sooner rather than later given the state of the line in Los Angeles. While there may be a learning curve and subsequent growing pains, he should develop into a solid pick at the end of the fourth round.
Round 5, Pick 5: Adam Shaheen, TE – Ashland
Frankly, the NFL Combine has the potential to make this pick not even possible. We’ve seen in virtually every draft in history that was preluded by the Combine how prospects from smaller schools can show off their physical abilities and shine in drills and tremendously help their draft stock. That’s almost surely going to be the case for Adam Shaheen out of Ashland. For now, though, the tight end would be a fantastic addition to the Rams.
For starters, Shaheen is an absolute physical monster at the position. Listed at 6-6, 277 pounds, the big man is simply physically imposing on the line, which is a big reason why he was so dominant in Division II football. However, what really stands out is the smoothness and agility that he has as a receiver. With a history in basketball, the big man is a matchup nightmare that can make opposing defenders look silly off of his breaks and then has the frame to keep defenders at bay when he makes the catch.
Though Shaheen still needs development in terms of his technique as a blocker, simply needing to learn how to leverage his size to win matchups in the running game, he’s a player that’s oozing with high-end potential. He could come in from Day 1 and be another receiving threat for Goff to help with the young quarterback’s progression. Most importantly, though, he could also develop into an all-around stud that not only catches plenty of balls, but also can help lead the way for Todd Gurley.
Round 6, Pick 5: Keionta Davis, EDGE – Chattanooga
Though he played against FCS competition, it’s hard not to like what Keionta Davis brings to the table. In his senior season with the Chattanooga Mocs, the 6-4, 270-pound edge rusher was an absolute force in every regard. Davis registered 10.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in his senior season and performed solidly—though he wasn’t a total standout—when put up against a higher level of competition at the Senior Bowl.
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What you have to love about Davis most of all is the versatility that he brings to the table. With his size but also solid athletic traits he has the potential to be a pass rushing presence both as a 3-4 outside linebacker and as a 4-3 defensive end. Obviously the latter would be where the Rams would use the Chattanooga standout if they were to land him in the sixth round.
Putting a player with the versatility and potential of Davis opposite of Robert Quinn would be a nightmare for opposing defenses down the line, particularly with Aaron Donald in the middle of their four-man front. Davis may not be able to come in and be a star on his first day at the job. However, the physical tools that he possesses in addition to the potential that could be milked as he gains experience against higher level competition could ultimately make him a steal at this point in the draft.
Round 6, Pick 35: Johnathan Ford, S – Auburn
Johnathan Ford certainly didn’t have much consistency in terms of where he lined up throughout his time at Auburn. The safety prospect started out as a running back, but then converted to a defensive back where he saw time at both safety and at nickel cornerback.
With his experience at nickel corner, Ford has promise as a solid coverage safety with real versatility. Though his size at under 6-0 and short arms are certainly working against him, he has the physical tools to make plays and has shown solid ability in terms of breaking up passes. As LA needs depth in the back of their secondary, Ford would be a nice late-round project with upside for them to work with.
Round 7, Pick 5: Ishmael Zamora, WR – Baylor
There’s a good chance that most teams will pass on Baylor wide receiver Ishmael Zamora. While there are plenty of problems involving sexual assault at the school, Zamora has character issues that lie outside of those. Specifically, Zamora was disciplined by the team after video surfaced of him beating a dog. Yes, those actions are reprehensible and, as such, he’ll suffer for it as he tries to enter the NFL.
Strictly in terms of football, though, Zamora could do a lot to help bolster the Rams receiving corps moving forward. At 6-4, 215 pounds, the Bears wideout has uncanny speed as he was a track star in high school. With that size and speed, he could potentially be a matchup nightmare. Even with the character concerns, he could be worth a late-round flier for the Rams considering how needy they are at the position.