The Los Angeles Rams shook the NFL this offseason by trading Jared Goff and draft picks for Matthew Stafford. The former Pro Bowl quarterback is an immediate upgrade over Goff and allows head coach Sean McVay to create even more innovative plays. However, Los Angeles must address holes created by key free agent departures.
General manager Les Snead did a good job finding contributors outside of the first-round last year. He’ll have to do that again because the Rams only have two picks in the top 100 selections. Los Angeles wants to recapture the NFC West from the Seattle Seahawks this coming season, and a strong draft class could make that outcome even more likely.
I used The Draft Network’s mock draft machine and Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator to justify each of my selections. At least one website had the chosen players available at their listed picks over several simulations. I didn’t create any trades and included an “ideal pick” after every selection for optimistic fans.
Round 2 (No. 57): Elijah Molden, CB/S Washington
Troy Hill meant a lot to the Rams last year, but he signed with the Cleveland Browns in free agency. While Molden doesn’t have the same outside-inside versatility as Hill, he’s the best slot corner in the draft and might offer some value as a safety.
Over his final 17 games at Washington, Molden intercepted five passes and swatted away 13 more. He has incredible instincts that are only sharpened by his amazing work ethic in the film room and tremendous football IQ. Molden’s ability to diagnose plays covers for his average athleticism.
Molden’s footwork leads to smooth transitions where he goes stride-for-stride with receivers. He’s also able to mirror offensive players and reacts the second he can make a play on the ball. Molden is surprisingly physical for a player his size. He gets downhill and makes plays on short throws and in the running game.
Ideal pick: Dillon Radunz, OT North Dakota St.
Round 3 (No. 88): Stone Forsythe, OT Florida
Los Angeles’ offensive tackles aren’t getting any younger. Andrew Whitworth is 39 years old, and the Rams have an out in his contract after this coming season. Whitworth missed seven regular season games last year. Right tackle Rob Havenstein is much younger at nearly 29 years old and has two more years on his current deal. Backup Joseph Noteboom is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Forsythe doesn’t offer an immediate impact because of Los Angeles’ veteran starters, but the Rams rely heavily on young players developing around their expensive signings. Forsythe is 6-8, 307 lbs. with 34-inch arms and excellent footwork in pass protection. He needs a year or two to develop as a run blocker but could take over whenever the Rams part ways with either of their current starters.
Ideal pick: Chazz Surratt, LB North Carolina
Round 3 (No. 103): Cameron McGrone, LB Michigan
The Rams didn’t rely heavily on their off-ball linebackers for superstar production last year. With so many resources pouring into the secondary and defensive line, Los Angeles hasn’t built up its talent pool at inside linebacker. McGrone won’t offer an immediate upgrade, but he has more potential than Los Angeles’ projected starters in 2021.
McGrone has sideline-to-sideline range and thrives against the run. He takes great angles to the ball, breaks away from blocks, and doesn’t opt for risky arm tackles. The Rams need to see if he can develop and show any promise in coverage before letting him compete for starting time.
Ideal pick: Baron Browning, LB Ohio St.
Round 4 (No. 141): Kendrick Green, IOL Illinois
Green is usually available in the fourth-round, along with fellow guards Aaron Banks and David Moore. Green separates himself from the other available interior lineman by possessing starting experience as a guard and center. He explodes off the line and creates plenty of movement in the running game.
The Rams have depth concerns along their interior line. Most of their current starters entered the NFL as mid-round selections, so Green should fit right in.
Ideal pick: Hunter Long, TE Boston College
Round 6 (No. 209): Elerson Smith, EDGE Northern Iowa
Smith has an outstanding build for an edge rusher. He’s 6-6, 252 lbs. with 34-inch arms. While Smith put on 50 lbs. in college, he’s still lean and lacks drive in his lower body. He’ll need at least one year in the weight room before seeing significant rotational snaps.
On the positive side, Smith explodes off the line of scrimmage and bends well for a player his size. He’s a developmental player with unteachable traits and quality athleticism.
Ideal pick: Marco Wilson, CB Florida
Round 7 (No. 252): Warren Jackson, WR Colorado St.
Josh Reynolds was Los Angeles’ tallest impact receiver last year, but he signed with Tennessee in the offseason. Jackson is a towering 6-6, 219 lbs. He experienced a breakout season in 2019, catching 77 passes for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns. Unfortunately, Jackson is neither quick nor sudden enough to create separation or get into his routes cleanly.
The Rams could take a look at Cincinnati’s Trey Ragas here as well.
Ideal pick: Chris Evans, RB Michigan