5 Options For The Rams In The 2nd Round
Joe Tryon – Edge – University of Washington
Pass rushing talent comes with a big price tag in the NFL and that isn’t good news for the Rams and their cap predicament. There is a good chance that Leonard Floyd and his 916 defensive snaps will be lost to free agency. The rest of the outside linebackers on the team only played 717 snaps last season. That includes 363 snaps from Samson Ebukam who is also a free agent this offseason. That is to say, the Rams will need to add depth, if not a day one starter.
Tryon could very well be good enough to start and he may drop low enough for the Rams to snatch him up with the 57th overall pick. ‘Could’ is the operative word in that sentence. Tryon won’t have played a down of football in some 20 months if drafted into the NFL.
Without litigating the PAC-12’s handling of the 2020 season, let’s just say Tryon opted not to play for COVID-related reasons. This, in addition to the lack of a combine, will leave a lot of scouts with more questions than answers for their teams.
What we do know is he had a breakout 2019 season. He racked up 8 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 13 games. We also know he’s 6’5” 262 lbs and he is fast. Many of his sacks happened while the QB was still in the pocket. This means he was able to shed defenders and wrap up the QB so quickly they didn’t even have a chance to go through their primary progressions. It doesn’t take a genius to see the potential he has.
Some, including Mel Kiper, have Tryon going late in the first round, but there are others that place him in the second or even the third round. What would drop him to the late second round goes back to those questions. Not playing last year means he missed a year of experience and development. Every scouting report says he is raw talent. Teams drafting in the first round aren’t looking for a player needing broad strokes development. They are looking for a bonafide starter, so this may leave him around long enough for the Rams to pounce.
The Rams would be an advantageous spot for Tryon to land. New defensive coordinator, Raheem Morris has a knack for player development. Not only would Tryon get playing time, but he would also be fast-tracked in his development under Morris.
Liam Eichenberg – Offensive Tackle – Notre Dame
It’s time to have the ‘Andrew Whitworth’ talk. He’s old and father time is undefeated. It is only a matter of time before he’s no longer with us. Just to clarify, by with us, I mean the Rams left tackle. I’m sure he will live a long happy life after retirement. But, the Rams will have to figure out how they will replace the anchor of their offensive line, sooner than later.
Not only that, but there are rumors that Rob Havenstein is a potential cap casualty.
Drafting a tackle late in the second round in no way guarantees a day-one Whitworth replacement. But the Rams need to give themselves as many options as they can. Currently, the options behind the starters are suspect, at best.
Notre Dame has become O-Line U as of late, churning out high-level pros like Mike McGlinchey, Zach Martin, Ronnie Stanley, and Quenton Nelson. Liam Eichenberg may be the next Fighting Irish to join those ranks. He took over for McGlinchey at right tackle in 2018. But he wasn’t a favorite for the job. He had to win the job over several candidates in order to earn the starting position.
Once in position, he played at a high level culminating in an impressive senior season. He did not allow a sack all year and only three quarterback hits and nine hurries on 496 pass plays. Notre Dame also had a formidable running game thanks in part to his blocking.
While he is in good company with his fellow alumni, he isn’t projected to go as high as they were. He has good size and strength, as well as a full toolbox of skills, but those skills aren’t that of a high-level left tackle.
For the Rams, he isn’t Whitworth’s immediate replacement, but he could be his backup for the remainder of Whitworth’s career or contract. A better backup would serve the team well. The offense took a nosedive in Whitworth’s absence. There is also the possibility that he could be moved to right tackle for a few years to replace Havenstein.
Landon Dickerson – Center – Alabama
While we are on the subject of the offensive line, there are improvements needed at the interior positions, as well. When Austin Blythe took over at center, his play improved dramatically. It just so happens he is a free agent this offseason. On the open market, Blythe will make around eight million a year. The Rams would save themselves a pretty penny by drafting a replacement rather than re-signing Blythe or trying to find a replacement in free agency.
If Landon Dickerson is around for the Rams in the second round, he would be a good option to replace Blythe. There isn’t much not to like about what he can bring to the position. Playing at Alabama means he was competing with the best players for his job and also playing against the best defenses in college football.
The biggest concern is his durability and injury history. He has missed games in every season of his collegiate career, all of which effectively ended his seasons. In the NFL, the best ability is availability and that is even more true when it comes to the center. He is the only other player that touches the ball as much as the quarterback and consistency is key.
With all that said, he still may be the Rams’ best option for a cost-effective starting center.
Greg Newsome – Cornerback – Northwestern
Once again, free agency is rearing its ugly head for the Rams. After the year he had, Troy Hill is due for a payday. This means, of course, adios LA (fingers crossed I am wrong). With Hill leaving, the Rams can move Darious Williams to the slot and draft Greg Newsome to play outside, opposite Jalen Ramsey.
At 6’1, his height and length will serve him well in that position. Not only is he tall but he has length. Danny Kelly of The Ringer described him as having “go-go gadget arms.” But unlike the Inspector himself, Newsome knows how to use his appendages to his advantage. He only gave up one pass of 10 yards or more and broke up nine passes in six games in 2020.
While his height serves him well, his slight frame doesn’t. He is only 190 lbs. This means he will get pushed around by NFL wide receivers. It also brings concerns about longevity and durability. He also missed at least one game in each of his three seasons at Northwestern.
Despite that, he is still a good option for the Rams. He will rarely have to defend a WR1 with Ramsey on that side of the field. They also have good depth at safety to assist Newsome with bringing down bigger pass catchers.
Chazz Surratt – LB – North Carolina
Unlike the other positions, this one doesn’t have anything to do with the Rams cap woes or free agency. The Rams just need more inside linebackers. Troy Reeder topped the group with a paltry 60.4 PFF rating. Micah Kiser and Kenny Young scored in the low 40’s and these are the starters. So, the Rams need to, at the very least, shore up this unit with some depth.
A good option for the Rams at inside linebacker is Chazz Surratt. Given the state of the middle linebackers, he may not just add depth but might even be a starter. Similar to Tryon, Surratt’s biggest knock is his lack of refinement. A big reason for that is he is still fairly new to the position, he joined the Tar Heels originally as a quarterback but asked to be moved to linebacker after struggling as a freshman. He will need to develop and do it on the double, but he would still be a good fit for the Rams and help them in significant ways.
One of his best abilities is his sideline to sideline speed. With the current ILBs, the Rams can be easily beat when stretched horizontally or with an earnest running attack. Also, with his speed and size, he is good in pass coverage. At 6’1” he can match up against a tight end like George Kittle but is also quick enough to hang with slot receivers and running backs.
Considering how desperate the Rams are at that position, Surratt will get significant playing time for the Rams regardless of his development. But with his body type and skill set, Surratt has the potential to have an incredibly high ceiling. It may be a big risk, but it could have a big reward.