The imperative for this Rams draft pick is that it will have to pull a lot of weight. Whoever they pick will have to be ready to start immediately. Because of that, the Rams will have to be 100 percent sold on that pick. A sure thing. A lock. A Guarantee. And it isn’t like the Rams are in a place where they can just draft the “Best Player Available.” There are a few positions in which they are desperate for players.
This really narrows down the possible directions the Rams can go and the players they can realistically pick at 36. It’s a tough needle to thread.
Who Won’t The Rams Be Drafting At 36?
Before we dive into the scenarios, let’s take a look at what positions the Rams won’t be drafting and why they won’t be.
Offensive Skill Position:
It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Sean McVay has a darling weapon he is itching to take, but it wouldn’t likely be the best thing this season. The wide receiver class is not deep and there is a big dropoff from the projected first-round talent. Furthermore, there aren’t great fits for the Rams offense. Quentin Johnston, TCU, may drop to 36th. But his red flags are glaring and we already saw this story play out with Allen Robinson.
Taking Jalin Hyatt looks like a football player-sized version of Tutu Atwell, but at 36 would be a bit of a reach. He is mocked in the 40s, largely because his route tree is limited and needs time to develop. Not ideal for the Rams.
Running back from Alabama, Jahmyr Gibbs will likely be available in the mid-30s and his sub-4.4 speed is exciting, but taking a running back this high is just a bad decision.
The tight-end class is incredible. I can absolutely see McVay falling for one of them and there will be plenty of options for the Rams at 36. But TE isn’t an immediate need with Tyler Higbee under contract for one more season. Not only that, but it does take even the best tight ends a good chunk of time to be ready for primetime.
They actually have a lot of depth on the roster. Is it good? Hard to say since the O-line room was a triage ward for 90 percent of the season. The Rams will likely stand pat and may bring in a veteran free agent if Joseph Noteboom or Alaric Jackson aren’t cutting the mustard at left tackle.
Rams Draft Pick Scenario 1: Cornerback
The Rams select Kelee Ringo, Georgia
Kelee Ringo isn’t the most technically sound cornerback but is big and fast. He is 6’2” 205 lbs and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash. And of course, playing at Georgia he has played against the best teams in college football.
The Rams are fully prepared to coach young DBs, with several defensive coaches on staff with loads of experience coaching cornerbacks, including Raheem Morris and new assistant head coach, Jimmy Lake. With Jalen Ramsey gone, this defensive backfield is going to struggle at times next season. Adding Ringo to the mix won’t replace Ramsey, but he will give this defense a better shot of not falling apart.
Rams Draft Pick Scenario 2: Edge Rusher
The Rams Draft Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
The Rams currently have three edge rushers on the roster, none are tested or capable of being a starting edge rusher in the NFL. (I’ll allow Daniel Hardy to prove me wrong). It almost seems criminal not to draft at this position now that Leonard Floyd is no longer on the team. Even with him, the Rams pass rush was sorely lacking. It was a big reason why the defense struggled as a whole.
I should point out that it wasn’t Floyd’s fault, he played about the first half of the season playing with an injury. When that healed, he was much better.
Will McDonald fits the mold of what the Rams look for in an edge rusher. Physically, he is long, and lean with freakish explosiveness. McDonald’s arm length put him in the 90th percentile and his broad jump and vertical put him in the 98th and 79th percentile among all edge rushers.
All this is important to the Rams because they ask their edge rushers to do a lot! Not only are they expected to set the edge and create pressure on the quarterback, but also drop into coverage and chase down running backs along the perimeter.
In 2021, Floyd was in the top ten among edge rushers in run defense, pass rush snaps, and coverage snaps. He is the only pass rusher that that was true about in that season. That is the role they will ask of the next Rams edge rusher. Not many are capable of holding up in that role.
McDonald has the best shot of the edge rushers the Rams will have access to. He isn’t a fully formed product with plenty to work on. But he is a prototypical Rams edge. There will be others that the Rams could draft, but McDonald is the best fit.
Rams Draft Scenario 3: Trade
If the Rams can’t get Ringo or McDonald, they should trade back to pick up more picks. This is another way the Rams could get the 36th pick to do some heavy lifting for them if they aren’t 100 percent on the pool of talent available to them. They could easily pick up two fourth-round picks by moving back just a few spots, perhaps more. In 2021, the Bengals did just that.
Trade scenarios are hard to predict, but here are a few examples of how one could play out for the Rams trading with the Packers, Raiders, and Patriots.
With the Packers, the Rams could move back to 45 and pick up 116 in the 4th and 149 in the 5th.
With Vegas, they would move back two spots to 38 and pick up 141 in the fifth.
For New England, the Rams trade back to 46 and pick up 117 and 135 in the fourth round.