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Draft Day 2 Recap And Analysis For The Rams

The Rams finally have a 2021 draft pick to call their own, wide receiver Tutu Atwell from Louisville. The thing that stands out about him is that he is 5’9”, 155 lbs, but he also runs a 4.27 40. (.05 seconds slower than the all-time record) It is hard not to get excited about that kind of speed. He even has a few gears that give him superior separation. Over his 32 games at Louisville, he averaged 16.6 yards per catch and 20 touchdowns. His average was fueled by big plays, several over 50 yards. His best season came in 2019 where he caught 69 passes for 1,272 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

His sheer speed will pair nicely in the current Rams offense, serving as Desean Jackson Junior. Matthew Stafford will find him downfield throughout 2021, but he will also create space for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.

Not only will his speed be used to spread the field vertically, but McVay will also use him in pre-snap motion. Defenses will have trouble keeping up with him, which will create miss matches for the receivers. 

Of course, at his size, there are concerns about his durability and ability to not get knocked off his routes and compete for catches. Also, Sean McVay expressed interest in bringing on a return specialist. Atwell has limited return experience, four punt returns to be exact. But when he did get his hands on a return he averaged 21 yards per return. So it will be interesting to see if McVay views Atwell as the return specialist or if he will add another player later in the draft.

The Rams trading back was expected and it happened when the Rams traded the 88th pick to the 49ers. The Rams were able to add on two additional picks in the 4th round, 117 and 121. They had had the 141st pick. 

They did make a pick with the 103 pick in the 3rd round, selecting inside linebacker Ernest Jones out of South Carolina. Jones is a good fit for what the Rams need from a linebacker. He has good ball instincts, a high football IQ, and plays a hard nose brand of football. His limitations won’t stop him from earning playing time. He is a sub-par athlete compared to NFL standards and he isn’t great in coverage, but in the Rams defense, he won’t be asked to do something he can’t do. 

But despite his shortcomings, Jones led the Gamecock in tackles and was third on the team in tackles for a loss. So it is easy to see that his positional acumen allows him to get the job done. 

The Rams don’t value the position highly, but after 2020 seventh-rounder Clay Johnston flopped, it was clear that the team had to invest a higher draft pick to shore up the position. ILB was widely regarded as a team need, but some fans may be puzzled why they didn’t draft more protection for Stafford and depth at offensive line. 

What may puzzle Rams fans, even more, is why they went for Jones when Jabril Cox was still on the board, but Cox has currently been passed on 105 times. So maybe the Rams are on to something. 

On the whole, the Rams made the right call on Day 2. McVay and Stafford have a new race car receiver to have some fun with and they added depth at a position that needed it. Trading back to add another pick was also the right thing to do. The Rams need to add depth and this allows them a bit more wiggle room to get everyone they need. 

Both the Cardinals and the Seahawks added speedy receivers to already talented receiving corps. They added Rondale Moore and D’Wayne Eskridge respectively, while the 49ers opted to add more protection for Jimmy Garappolo and maybe their new backup QB. They also added running back Trey Sermon and a corner Ambry Thomas. Given how Kyle Shanahan likes to use running backs, Sermon will be someone interesting to watch.

A few side notes; you have to appreciate a team that is so competitive that they tried to out-swag Kliff Kingsbury draft pad from last year, but sadly Kingsbury wins that battle. They went out and got a beautiful Malibu mansion and they set up the video feed in the office. But hanging a portrait of Roger Goodell in your draft headquarters is a very very awesome flex and redeems a lot.

The most exciting thing about the second round was all the trades. 14 of the 32 picks were affected by a trade. Other than that, round 2 was an old-school blocking and tackling focused round. It was all about stopping passers and protecting passers. Of the 32 second-round picks, 10 were offensive linemen, 6 defensive backs, and 5 pass rushers.

This approach was a stark contrast to the first round that saw playmakers drafted and of course, three straight QBs taken. 

The third round started off looking more like the first round with three out of four QB’s drafted between the final pick of the second round and the third pick of the third round. But as the evening passed the third round looked a lot like most mid-rounds, a good mix of teams taking the best player available or filling those obvious team needs and plenty of trades

The steal of the second round was definitely Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Some mock drafts even had him going as high as the mid-first round. So the fact that he dropped to the back half of the second round begs the question, what do NFL franchises know that the rest of us don’t. 

What is becoming apparent to everyone is that inside linebackers are becoming the running backs of the defensive side of things and Owusu-Koramoah’s drop is yet more proof of that. Jabril Cox might be, as well. 

Other players that dropped, or that were steals, were Quinn Meinerz. Meinerz is now the highest-drafted D-lll player. Ronnie Perkins and Elijah Molden were big steals as well. 

Ryan Anderson

Author Ryan Anderson

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