At the end of their 2020 football season last week, the Los Angeles Rams found themselves battered and bruised at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Now, just a handful of days later, the clock has reset to a new beginning and the Rams now find themselves getting ready for another season. The first step on this new journey lies at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where many of the next generation of superstars will give their final performances in a college atmosphere before their own new beginning starts in April. Here are four players on the Rams Senior Bowl watchlist.
Los Angeles Rams Senior Bowl Watchlist
Dark Clouds At Quarterback Set Stage For Senior Bowl
The Los Angeles Rams might have a quarterback problem in Jared Goff. The young vet has seemingly hit a wall in his development and could be holding the Rams from achieving true dominance. The last big remaining piece of the Jeff Fisher era, it would not be surprising if the Rams were to try to take a shot at a quarterback this offseason if one were to fall to them. The quarterback would likely not be expected to be an immediate replacement for Goff but rather a monetarily cheap replacement later in the year if the Rams were to hit another offensive wall like they have had to deal with at times in the past.
Also, it is worth noting that the NFL is currently living in the shadow of the Kansas City Chiefs, who drafted Patrick Mahomes at quarterback even with a playoff-caliber quarterback on their roster in Alex Smith. Head Coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead could be arriving at the diagnosis they have an “Alex Smith.”
If the Rams wanted to draft a quarterback at a discount, this year could be the year as the draft has interesting talent but at a cheap price. The NFL free agency market could see more movement than any other year with only 10 starting quarterbacks truly locked in for 2021 per NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Put simply, many teams are looking for shortcuts and with so many interesting veterans available, some of the draft prospects could fall lower than normal and right into the hands of the Rams as a result.
Here are the top quarterback prospects expected to play in the Senior Bowl that should be on the Rams Senior Bowl watchlist.
Mac Jones – Quarterback – Alabama Crimson Tide
If the Rams are going to scout for the Draft, Alabama must be one of the schools at the top of the list. Mac Jones threw 41 touchdowns and four interceptions en route to an undefeated season and a National Championship victory. By default, those accomplishments should interest every team in the NFL that is thinking about a change at quarterback.
Jones has good deep accuracy. However, Alabama’s receivers were so dominant that it may have hurt the ability of Jones to show what else he can do. Thus, even though he dominated teams, the player still has too many unknowns to declare the most impressive candidate entering the Senior Bowl. Also, Jones can sometimes get a little too loose with the ball, throwing into double coverage from time to time. This game will be huge for him to show that he can do more than throw deep to wide-open receivers like Devonta Smith. If he can do that, he can enter the “Tua Tagovailoa” level of hype.
Kellen Mond – Quarterback — Texas A&M
Kellen Mond may be the best value quarterback for the Rams to draft without having to spend a cornucopia of draft capital. However, you get what you pay for with Mond, as he is a tier below Mac Jones and Kyle Trask. He threw 19 touchdowns and three interceptions and went 9-1 in his last 10 games. He has the ability to win with the right pieces around him but he cannot carry a franchise in his current state. In other words, he could be a bit of a project for the Rams but one that could have a quicker turnaround than other quarterbacks that carry the label.
Mond can hit receivers accurately but he can be a little off on his ball placement. For example, an attempted back-shoulder throw could turn into a back-elbow throw which could lead to a dropped pass. Also, he showed difficulty in being able to move the ball through the air at times throughout the season. The biggest question Mond will need to answer in the game is whether he can make a “wow” throw. If he can do that, the Rams would be much more comfortable using a precious draft pick on him if he becomes available.
Intriguing Defensive Stars On The Rams Senior Bowl Watchlist
Playoff teams usually use their loss as a blueprint to point the direction as to what needs to be improved during the offseason. The biggest issue with the Rams’ loss to the Green Bay Packers was that there was no pass rush once Aaron Donald suffered an injury. This needs to get fixed going into next season. If Donald does not or cannot show up in a future game, the Rams will need a stronger backup plan when it comes to guaranteeing a pass rush.
Also, if the pass rush does not show up immediately, the Rams need better coverage in the secondary to give more time for the rush to develop. Thus, the Rams need to look at the defensive line to bolster the pass rush and a look at a coverage linebacker to bolster the coverage as well. Here are two of the players the Rams should keep on their eye on during the Senior Bowl.
Jabril Cox – Linebacker – LSU
Put simply, Jabril Cox is a ballhawk. He intercepted three balls this season including one for a pick-six. While three interceptions in a season aren’t amazing on their own, the timing of the interceptions is more impressive. One interception came in the first game of the season, one came around the midpoint, and one came at the end of the season. They did not all come in one game and they did not all come in a couple of games back-to-back, leaving large parts of the season desolate. They came throughout the season. If a player can stay relevant all season long, they can help teams win important games throughout the season which is exactly what the Rams need.
Another pattern of stats tells another story of dominance. During the first four games of the season, Cox earned 6-8 tackles per game. The next three games saw Cox’s tackles drop to 2-3 tackles per game. Cox earned 6-9 tackles per game in his last three games. The story of the stats is that Cox saw a lot of attention from opposing offenses early which led to more tackles. However, around the middle of the season, Cox’s dominance convinced opposing offenses to attack other areas. Then, about a month later, Cox’s dominance was forgotten so he got attacked again and his tackles jumped up to 6-9 per game in his last three games.
While his ability to hawk in the secondary is why one would draft this guy, and any proven ability to rush the quarterback in the Senior Bowl would show his versatility which could put him on pace to be a defensive leader in the NFL one day.
Quincy Roche – Defensive End – Miami Hurricanes
Before diving deep into Quincy Roche, it should be noted that he transferred from Temple for his last year of college. This means that if Roche happens to get frustrated in his role on one of the teams in the NFL, it should not be a shock if he decides to test free agency earlier in his career than most assuming he ends up being a hit.
In his season playing for the Miami Hurricanes, he racked up four-and-a-half sacks, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. The most interesting stat about Roche’s season was that his longest stretch without a sack or a turnover was two games which happened once. If that production were to transfer to the NFL, in combination with a healthy Aaron Donald, the result could be two players that alternate sacks as teams struggle to figure out who to double team.
Going into the game, the Rams will be looking to see if Roche can be just as big of a force against a star-studded roster as he was during the regular season.