It is time to look towards the 2022 NFL Draft. The 2021 NFL Draft has concluded. The Los Angeles Rams did not prioritize the offensive line the past two seasons. With a lot of turnover expected after the 2021 season, the Rams may have to finally use some Draft capital to correct this.
The Past Two Drafts
Creed Humphrey was there at the 57th overall pick. The Rams passed on him anyways. They traded down from 88th overall instead of selecting Quinn Meinerz. Then they missed out on Drew Dalman. The Rams passed on Trey Smith multiple times. They could’ve taken Jack Anderson in the 7th round but chose not to.
In 2020, the Rams ignored the offensive line as well. They could have grabbed Jonah Jackson. They chose not to. The Rams missed the opportunity to draft several other linemen as well. In the two previous NFL Drafts, the Rams have drafted one interior offensive lineman. Also, they have only brought in two undrafted free agents at the position. Only one remains on the roster.
Where The Roster Currently Stands
Rams fans have been clamoring for the team to draft an offensive lineman for years. Nevertheless, Les Snead and Sean McVay have stated that they are content with who they have on the roster. Austin Blythe left to go to the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. Additionally, Austin Corbett enters free agency after the 2021 season. Furthermore, David Edwards and Bobby Evans enter free agency after the 2022 season.
It should be noted, the entire interior offensive line of the Rams will be gone after 2022 as things currently stand. Additionally, the Rams must keep depth in mind. First, Brian Allen‘s contract expires after 2021. Next, Chandler Brewer‘s contract expires after 2021. Additionally, Coleman Shelton and Jamil Demby enter free agency after 2021.
Undoubtedly, the Rams will bolster the interior offensive line next offseason. The Rams project to have 10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. They would be wise to add to the offensive line with another talented class. Clearly, fans aren’t crazy to want the team to address the trenches.
1. Kenyon Green – Texas A&M Aggies
Kenyon Green is a Junior. He is listed at 6’4″ 325 lbs. Green has started 23 games for the Aggies. Subsequently, his combination of strength and mobility put him in the conversation as the next Quenton Nelson.
Additionally, he has played left and right guard. Moreover, Green did not give up a single sack in 2020. Lastly, he showed flashes of dominance as a run blocker. He is the frontrunner of the 2022 NFL Draft class.
2. Tyler Linderbaum – Iowa Hawkeyes
Tyler Linderbaum is a Junior. He is listed at 6’3″ 289 lbs. Linderbaum came to the Hawkeyes as a defensive lineman in 2018. He transitioned to center in 2019. The talented Big Ten lineman has since started 21 straight games at center.
Linderbaum is a strong man. His background as a high school wrestler is evident in his film. However, he is strictly a center and that may deter his value slightly. Clearly, his athleticism stands out as well. He makes getting to the second level of defenders look easy. Lastly, Linderbaum has only given up one sack in his career with the Hawkeyes.
3. Emil Ekiyor – Alabama Crimson Tide
Emil Ekiyor is a Redshirt Junior. He is listed at 6’3″ 324 lbs. Ekiyor has played primarily at right guard for the Crimson Tide. However, he has played significant snaps at left guard as well. Additionally, he played center in high school. He likely has positional flexibility.
With teammates Landon Dickerson and Deonte Brown now in the NFL, it will be interesting to see where Ekiyor plays in 2021. Nevertheless, Ekiyor has tremendous athleticism and footwork. He is an agile run blocker. Lastly, Ekiyor only gave up two sacks in 2020.
4. Jarrett Patterson – Notre Dame Irish
Jarrett Patterson is a Senior. He is listed at 6’4″ 305 lbs. Patterson has played in 24 games with 21 starts as a center. Patterson is a well-rounded center. He won’t wow anyone with his athleticism, but, on the other hand, he is a stout presence on the offensive line.
He is more of a blue-collar lineman. Particularly, he will be able to handle heavy defensive tackles well at the next level. Notably, Patterson is underrated as a pass protector. In his 21 starts, he has never given up a single sack. The Irish are known for putting talented linemen in the NFL. Unquestionably, Patterson looks to continue that tradition.
5. Ikem Ekwonu – North Carolina State Wolfpack
Ikem Ekwonu is a Junior. He is listed at 6’4″ 320 lbs. Ekwonu has played in 24 games with 19 starts. Interestingly, 15 of these starts have been at left tackle. However, Ekwonu projects best as a guard. That is where his other four starts have been.
Ekwonu’s movement skills and footwork stand out. However, the physically gifted lineman will need to clean up his issues in pass protection. He gave up seven sacks in 2020. A transition to guard would likely help his career. He also has a wrestling background. Notably, he had offers from Yale and Harvard. Apart from this, his name translates to “My effort will not be in vain.”
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6. Ben Brown – Ole Miss Rebels
Ben Brown is a Redshirt Senior. He is listed at 6’5″ 315 lbs. Brown is a three-year starter with 34 career starts under his belt. Undoubtedly, he has some positional flexibility. Brown has logged 24 starts at right guard, and he switched to center in 2020 and logged 10 starts.
Also, Brown is a good mover in the run game. However, he does need to add some strength to be more effective. Alternatively, Brown does a solid job in pass protection. In fact, in his three years at Ole Miss, he has given up just a single sack.
7. Lecitus Smith – Virginia Tech Hokies
Lecitus Smith is a Redshirt Senior. He is listed at 6’3″ 320 lbs. Smith has played in 34 games with 27 starts. All of his snaps have been at left guard. Smith is a powerful human being who moves defenders with ease. Additionally, he is a great mover in space.
Undoubtedly, Smith is a player who could easily rise up in rankings leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft. He has only given up 2 sacks in his 27 starts. It will be interesting to see how Smith plays without teammate Christian Darrisaw next to him.
8. Zion Johnson – Boston College Eagles
Zion Johnson is a 5th-year Senior. Johnson took advantage of the extra year of eligibility related to COVID-19 rules. He is listed at 6’3″ 310 lbs. Initially, Johnson started his career at Davidson. He played there for two seasons and logged 22 games with 19 starts. Johnson then transferred to Boston College. He started his career at Boston College as a guard and logged 13 games with 7 starts. Then, the Eagles moved him to left tackle in 2020. There he logged 11 starts. In total, he has played 46 games with 37 starts.
Johnson is a solid run blocker as well as a pass blocker. However, he gave up 27 total pressures in 2020. Undoubtedly, his best position is at guard where he gave up only 8 pressures and no sacks. Boston College is moving him back to guard for 2021, which is good news for Johnson’s draft stock.
9. Jamaree Salyer – Georgia Bulldogs
Jamaree Salyer is a Senior. He is listed at 6’4″ 325 lbs. He has played 27 games with 12 starts. Interestingly, Salyer has played all five positions on the offensive line. 10 games, one start at guard. 14 games, 11 starts at tackle (nine at left tackle, two at right tackle). Three games at center. Salyer could honestly be a solid tackle. However, he has the potential to develop into an elite guard.
Salyer’s athleticism as a guard stands out. Additionally, Salyer has never given up a sack despite being at tackle. Georgia plans to keep him at guard in 2021. Undeniably, this will be good for his development. His best NFL fit is at guard, however, it is good to know he has the versatility to play tackle if needed.
10. Marquis Hayes – Oklahoma Sooners
Marquis Hayes is a Redshirt Senior. He is listed at 6’5″ 349 lbs. Hayes has played 27 games with 24 starts. Hayes has good athleticism for his size. However, he does need to clean up some of his footwork. Despite his size, Hayes needs to add some functional strength. At his size you expect him to dominate as a run blocker and I didn’t see that enough in 2020.
Another year at Oklahoma should help him. With Creed Humphrey and Adrian Ealy off to the NFL, Hayes will have to step up as a leader. Hayes is a very good pass protector. He has only given up 2 sacks in his career.