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
The Rams have failed to address the offensive tackle position in the NFL Draft in the last two offseasons. Outside of seventh-round guard/tackle Tremayne Anchrum in 2020, an offensive tackle has not been added via draft pick. The Rams did add Alaric Jackson as an undrafted free agent this offseason. They also added Max Pircher via the International Player Pathway or IPP. Meanwhile, Les Snead passed on opportunities to draft players such as Brady Christensen and Spencer Brown. In 2020 he passed on players like Ezra Cleveland and Josh Jones as well.
Where The Roster Currently Stands
The Rams could be without clarity at offensive tackle very soon if they do not play their cards right. Andrew Whitworth, as good as he has been, will turn 40 years old this year. Not to mention his cap hit of $14.6M in 2022 if he is still on the roster. Currently, Rob Havenstein is under contract through 2022, however, he also comes with a cap hit of $8.3M in 2022. With the Rams cap situation, that is something to consider. Joe Noteboom is a free agent after the 2021 season. Alaric Jackson and Max Pircher are signed through 2023. The Rams will likely have to address offensive tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Here are the options.
1. Evan Neal – Alabama Crimson Tide
Evan Neal is a Junior. He is listed at 6’7″ 360 lbs. Neal has 26 starts, 13 at left guard, and 13 at right tackle. Despite his size, Neal is a great athlete and possesses extreme power. He is an elite run blocker. Neal only gave up two sacks in 2020. Alabama is moving him to left tackle for the 2021 season and it will be interesting to see how he handles that move.
2. Zion Nelson – Miami Hurricanes
Zion Nelson is a Junior. He is listed at 6’5″ 316 lbs. Nelson has played in 23 games with 19 starts all at left tackle. He had a rough year as a Freshman in 2019 in which he gave up 12 sacks. However, he improved greatly in 2020 only giving up three sacks. Nelson has a very high ceiling with his athleticism. He is a very smooth mover. He does need to develop as a run blocker. Another year at Miami and Nelson could really rise.
3. Rasheed Walker – Penn State Nittany Lions
Rasheed Walker is a Redshirt Junior. He is listed at 6’6″ 312 lbs. Walker has played in 26 games with 22 starts at left tackle. Walker is a powerful blocker who is very well-rounded. He also possesses really good technique. He gave up two sacks in 2020. Walker plays like someone who has been in the NFL already.
4. Myron Cunningham – Arkansas Razorbacks
Myron Cunningham is a Redshirt Senior. He is listed at 6’6″ 330 lbs. He has played 33 games with 32 starts under his belt. Cunningham began his career at Western Illinois in 2017. After not receiving playing time he transferred to Iowa Central Community College where he started 12 games.
He joined Arkansas in 2019. Cunningham is a solid athlete and a powerful blocker. Cunningham worked hard to transform his body and develop that strength. He entered Arkansas weighing 290 lbs. Another season playing at a heavier weight and honing his abilities could be really beneficial for him. He gave up just two sacks in 2020.
5. Abraham Lucas – Washington State Cougars
Abraham Lucas is a Redshirt Senior. He is listed at 6’7″ 319 lbs. Lucas has started 30 games at right tackle. Lucas is a decent athlete although not elite. He is very smooth in his pass sets and possesses good technique. Lucas is also a powerful finisher anytime he gets the chance. He gave up just one sack in 2020. Maybe even more amazing, Lucas has only garnered one penalty in his last two seasons.
6. Darian Kinnard – Kentucky Wildcats
Darian Kinnard is a Senior. He is listed at 6’5″ 345 lbs. Kinnard has played in 35 games with 26 starts (24 at right tackle and 2 at left tackle). Kinnard is an elite run blocker and a powerful finisher. He is a good athlete for his size as well. He gave up two sacks in 2020. Kinnard also has versatility as a guard.
Kentucky is moving him to left tackle in 2021. It will be interesting to see how that transition goes. If Kinnard handles that move well, he could see a rise in his stock. It is also notable that Kinnard has only garnered two penalties in the last two seasons.
7. Nick Broeker – Ole Miss Rebels
Nick Broeker is a Junior. He is listed at 6’4″ 305 lbs. Broeker has played in 21 games with 10 starts at left tackle. He has guard versatility and there will be some debate about his best fit in the NFL. Broeker is a good athlete with solid technique. He needs to get stronger for the NFL. Adding functional strength would increase his stock greatly. Broeker gave up two sacks in 2020.
8. Thayer Munford – Ohio State Buckeyes
Thayer Munford is a Senior. He is listed at 6’6″ 321 lbs. Munford has played in 42 games with 34 starts at left tackle. Munford is a solid athlete with solid technique. He played a little up and down in 2018 and 2019. However, in 2020 he played at a high level and gave up zero sacks and only three total pressures. He has the most experience out of this list of top 10 tackles. If he can pick up where he left off in 2020, Munford could rise and make a huge jump.
9. Jaxson Kirkland – Washington Huskies
Jaxson Kirkland is a Redshirt Senior. He is listed at 6’7″ 310 lbs. Kirkland has 29 starts total (25 at right guard and 4 at left tackle). After starting two years as a right guard, Washington moved Kirkland to left tackle. Unfortunately, a COVID-19 shortened season only allowed us to see him in four games at that position. However, Washington plans to keep him at left tackle in 2021.
Kirkland is a really good pass protector who needs to improve his technique as a run blocker. The upside with Kirkland is his nasty attitude and finishing style of play. He gave up zero sacks in 2020 and only two total sacks in 2018 and 2019. Kirkland also worked hard to transform his body. He dropped 30 lbs. and then added 20 lbs. back on in leaner muscle. A full year at left tackle could do wonders for his draft stock. He could be a riser in the 2022 NFL Draft.
10. Charles Cross – Mississippi State Bulldogs
Charles Cross is a Redshirt Sophomore. He is listed at 6’5″ 305 lbs. Cross has played in 13 games with 10 starts at left tackle. Despite Cross having some good traits, he had a rough year as a first-year starter. He gave up six sacks, but perhaps worse than that was the 44 total pressures given up.
Cross is very young with tremendous upside. He needs to continue to get stronger and develop as a technician for the NFL. If Cross can take a huge step in his development like Zion Nelson did at Miami, he could see an even bigger jump in his draft stock. He may decide to forgo the 2022 NFL Draft regardless, however.