The Rams have a ferocious defensive line, but Connor Barwin is the one weak link. He was supposed to provide some veteran stability, but that hasn't happened. Here's a potential upgrade.
I've been moving Sam Hubbard around in my mock draft quite a bit. That's because he has great talent, but seldom lived up to it at Ohio State. However, he had a strong finish to his 2017 campaign, so he could still go in the first round.
Rd. 3, Pk. 23
Braden Smith, G, Auburn
The Rams have a great offensive line, but their one weakness is at right guard, which is a position they can address at this juncture.
Pick change; previously Kameron Kelly, CB
Rd. 4, Pk. 24
Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
I wouldn't be surprised if the Rams doubled up on cornerbacks, just in case they lose Trumaine Johnson this offseason.
The Rams signed Robert Woods, but he isn't enough to upgrade their weak receiving corps. Here's a legit weapon.
Jones had video game-like production playing in a college offense that inflates numbers. As a senior, he totaled 158 receptions for 1,746 yards with eight touchdowns. Jones had other quality production as a junior (98-1,099-5), sophomore (81-830-5) and freshman (62-604-5). The senior set an NCAA record for receptions, breaking the total previously held by former teammate Justin Hardy.
Jones was phenomenal at the Senior Bowl and really helped his draft stock. He showed a quick burst off the line with the speed to get separation. Jones also ran good routes and displayed excellent hands. He plays bigger than his listed numbers and has functional size for the NFL.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Taylor Moton, OT/G, Western Michigan
The Rams could use more offensive line talent to help Todd Gurley and Jared Goff.
Moton (6-5, 330) was a solid offensive lineman for the Broncos the past few seasons and put together a quality senior year at right tackle. Western Michigan fielded a superb offense with a dynamic aerial attack for a few years, and Moton's pass protection contributed to that. As a sophomore, Moton played right tackle before moving to right guard as a junior. He has versatile size for the NFL and could be a player who is a valuable competitor at guard or right tackle early in his NFL career.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Rudy Ford, S, Auburn
The Rams could use another safety after losing T.J. McDonald in free agency.
Ford collected 59 tackles with seven passes broken up in 2016. He was a dependable safety who contributed in pass defense and in run defense. Ford (5-11, 200) was a solid defender for Auburn over the past few seasons. In 2015, he totaled 118 tackles with one sack, two passes broken up and two interceptions, plus showed that he is a threat as a kick returner. As a sophomore, Ford had 93 tackles with three interceptions.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Damore'ea Stringefellow, WR, Ole Miss
The Rams grab more receiving talent for Jared Goff.
In 2016, Stringefellow totaled 46 receptions for 716 yards with six touchdowns. As a sophomore (36-503-5) and freshman (20-259-1) Stringefellow contributed behind Treadwell and Evan Engram. Stringefellow (6-2, 219) has a special combination of size and speed. He likely would have benefited by returning for his senior year to produce more as the No. 1 target before going pro. Stringefellow has some off-the-field issues, too, which prevented him from working out at the combine. Team sources say that Stringefellow has the skill set of a No. 1 receiver, but his off-the-field issues really sink his draft stock well into Day 3 on team's draft boards.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh
The Rams need grab some more offensive line talent.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson
The Rams need a few wide receiver upgrades.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
John Johnson, S, Boston College
The Rams get some safety competition.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Eric Wilson, ILB, Cincinnati
The Rams get some linebacker depth with a player they hosted.
Key could be too good for the Rams to pass on, as at this point, I have him as the best talent for the 2018 NFL Draft. I know team sources who feel the same way. Los Angeles could use an edge rusher to pair with Robert Quinn. William Hayes led the Rams with only five sacks last year and was traded to Miami. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder is a lightning-fast edge rusher with a ton of upside to develop. Sources have told me that Key loves football and is a hard-worker who strives to improve in the offseason. They said he has worked with pass-rushing moves guru Chuck Smith, and that is impressive dedication for a collegiate player. Key missed the first two games of 2017 and was eased back into action in Week 3 against Mississippi State. He had three tackles and a sack against the Bulldogs. Thus far, Key has five tackles with a sack as a junior. <br> <br>
In 2016, Key was one of the best players in college football. He recorded 56 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up on the year. Key is a dangerous pass-rusher with excellent speed and the ability to bend around the corner. He flashed a ton of potential as a freshman for LSU, totaling 41 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, five sacks and one pass broken up.
After losing Janoris Jenkins and then trading away E.J. Gaines, the Rams could use a corner upgrade across from Trumaine Johnson. <br> <br>
McFadden has totaled 15 tackles and five passes broken up across Florida State's 2017. Overall, he has played well, but was beaten for the game-winning touchdown by Miami in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. McFadden was up and down in 2016, too, but he has a ton of talent to grow into a better player. Sometimes last season, he looked great, but other times, he seemed lost. McFadden still tied for the nation's lead in interceptions with eight as part of that was because he had a lot of opportunities as teams targeted him. He also recorded 20 tackles and six passes broken up. <br> <br>
McFadden is a huge press-man corner. He is a similar prospect with similar strengths and weaknesses to David Amerson. At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, McFadden has great size with upside to improve his consistency as a junior in 2017.
Los Angeles could use an edge rusher to pair with Robert Quinn. William Hayes led the Rams with only five sacks last year and was traded to Miami. <br> <br>
In 2017, Landry has 25 tackles with four tackles for a loss, two sacks and two passes broken up. The senior was manhandled by Notre Dame, struggling against a freshman right tackle and, on a few snaps, against left tackle Mike McGlinchey. Landry was moderately better, but still underwhelming, against Clemson.<br> <br>
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Landry had an impressive junior season as an edge rusher for Boston College, recording 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. He contributed as a sophomore with 60 stops and 4.5 sacks. Landry would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
The Rams could use a corner upgrade across from Trumaine Johnson, and the position will be a huge need if he isn't signed to a long-term contract. Here's a corner who has some similarities to Johnson. <br> <br>
Davis (6-1, 203) is a good corner who has size, length and press-man ability. He has nice quickness in the short part of the field and can battle big wideouts. Davis is a physical defender who really competes, but he does struggle with deep speed. The junior has 36 tackles with 11 passes broken up, one forced fumble and an interception in 2017. As a sophomore, he totaled 46 tackles, 10 passes broken up, one forced fumble and zero interceptions. Davis recorded three interceptions with 56 tackles and eight passes broken up as a freshman.
Alright. Now on to the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams. The playoff stage may have been a bit too bright for a lot of guys just getting their first experiences of playoff action, but the Rams appear set to be contenders for the foreseeable future. Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner (I'd love Joyner on the Niners) are set to become free agents, so the defensive backfield could use some reinforcements.
Like death and taxes, Ohio State pumping out first round DB talents is becoming like clockwork. In 2016 it was Eli Apple. A year ago it was Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker. This year, it's Denzel Ward. I like Ward better than Apple, but not as much as I liked the trio from last year.