Mel Kiper Jr. Predicts Los Angeles Rams Make Stunning Move In 2024 NFL Draft

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Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead is one of the most aggressive decision-makers in football, which is why the team has gone seven years without making a first-round pick. It also appears to be part of the motive behind a stunning selection in a recent expert’s 2024 NFL Draft mock.

Before the retirement of Aaron Donald, one of the best NFL players of all time, Los Angeles had significant flexibility heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. Snead addressed a majority of the top Rams draft needs, providing the ability to take the best player available when Los Angeles is on the clock.

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Donald’s retirement changed things. It created a massive hole at defensive tackle and the removal of one of the best pass rushers in NFL history also strengthened the need for more help around Kobie Turner and Byron Young. However, a top draft analyst took things in a very different direction for Los Angeles.

Appearing on SportsCenter, ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr has the Rams trading up with the Los Angeles Chargers in the second round to draft quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

“Michael Penix Jr. had the injuries, that’s why he drops to the second round. Didn’t play great in that national title game when he got beat up. But I think Michael Penix Jr. to move up in the second round to the LA Rams make an awful lot of sense.”

Mel Kiper Jr. on giving Michael Penix Jr. to the Los Angeles Rams in his 2024 NFL mock draft

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Why the Rams shouldn’t draft Michael Penix Jr

Los Angeles Rams, Michael Penix Jr
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We’ll give Kiper this, drafting Penix Jr. in the second round makes more sense than the speculation suggesting Los Angeles could use a first-round pick on a quarterback. However, even taking the All-American quarterback in Round 2 has its drawbacks.

Related: NFL reporter reveals ‘wide open’ range for Michael Penix Jr. in NFL Draft

For one, it eliminates the element of team control with the fifth-year option that is only available for first-round picks. This means that, if Matthew Stafford retires after the 2024 season, Los Angeles would only have Penix Jr. on a rookie contract for three seasons.

Penix Jr. is certainly worth a second-round pick, but he has some significant drawbacks. He’ll be 24 years old in his rookie season, which is the same age as Trevor Lawrence heading into his fourth NFL season. Furthermore, Penix Jr. has suffered two ACL tears and a dislocated shoulder joint in college which makes him a significant medical risk.

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If the Rams are going to draft a quarterback on Day 2, it makes far more sense to target someone like Spencer Rattler. He will also be 24 years old during his rookie season, but he offers far more upside than Penix Jr. and he doesn’t carry the medical concerns. Rattler could develop behind Stafford for two seasons, then take over as the Rams’ starting quarterback in 2026. Plus, Los Angeles wouldn’t need to trade up for him and cost itself valuable draft capital.