And just like that, we are just a little over a week away from the NFL Draft. By now you are probably inundated by mock drafts, articles throwing names and picks at you with little rhyme or reason.
A LAFB Network, we want to do something at least slightly different, and hopefully, it will provide you with some value heading into draft night. Instead of giving you a single mock draft, with a single selection at each Rams‘ pick, I will be working round by round, leading up to a final full mock. Each article will be dedicated to a single round, and each pick will have three player options and scenarios.
The goal is, that with each of the Rams seven draft picks (at the moment) you will have as much Information based on several different scenarios. I have also been going round by round for both the Rams and the Chargers on the Bleav In LA Football Podcast, so be sure to check that out.
As I would hope you know by now, the Rams do not have a first-round pick, so let’s jump right into round 2!
Who To Take At 52 And 57? Predicting the Rams 2nd Round Picks
Round 2 – Pick 52
Austin Jackson, OT – USC
I don’t think Jackson will last this long, but after numerous simulations and hours of studying and comparing mock drafts, there he sat. Now OT may not be the biggest need for the Rams at 52 (I would say ILB and Edge are probably the biggest right now), but if a player the caliber of Austin Jackson falls into your lap, you take him.
Currently on the roster, recently re-signed Andrew Whitworth is slotted as the starting left tackle, and right tackle is a toss-up between Rob Havenstein and Bobby Evans. Chandler Brewer is the only other tackle currently on the roster (David Edwards could play in a pinch but you get the point), so the Rams will be taking at tackle at some point in the 2020 draft.
I have seen plenty of mocks where Jackson is taken in the first round in the 20s, so if he is available at 52 it would be an absolute steal.
Now when I say steal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he going to be a starting tackle from day one, but, luckily, with the Rams, he doesn’t have to be, which is a perfect situation for him.
His biggest positive coming into the draft is something you can’t teach, size and athleticism. He gets off the snap pretty good, is skillful enough to make all the blocks, and is effective in the screen game and blocking downfield.
Now, where he needs work, and why there is the chance that he could fall in the draft is purely his consistency. He at times demonstrated good footwork, but not on every down, something that will lead to plenty of holding calls at the NFL level. Weight distribution and point of attack are other areas of his game that could use refining.
This is a situation where he could come in, sit behind Whitworth and/or Havenstein/Evans, get coached up by Aaron Kromer, and groom into becoming the tackle of the future. He would be a great value at 52 that could have a huge payout later down the line.
Round 2 – Pick 57
Michael Pittman Jr., WR – USC
You probably either love this pick or hate this pick. Again, not the biggest position of need (don’t worry I will be addressing those in round three with tremendous value), but, in my opinion, one the best receivers and safest pick in the entire draft, and with the recent trade of Brandin Cooks, Snead and Co will need to fill out the depth chart.
Pittman Jr. is a home run and is slowly climbing up draft boards. He is not a “Combine Hero” or someone that will blow you away with measurables, but his tape and gameplay should speak for themselves.
He is the exact receiver that the Rams have been missing in their arsenal. He will most likely lineup as a prototypical “X” receiver (outside), and his big frame and style of play make him a possession receiver. He may not be the purest route runner in this class, but he can hit every route on the tree and will commit 100% to his role. But perhaps his biggest asset and why he would be so valuable to the Rams is his size (6’4 223) and ability to high-point the ball. LA has been lacking a receiver that can go up and get it in traffic, and Pittman Jr. can do exactly this. If you want to take some of the pressure off of Jared Goff, then give him a receiver that will bail him out of tough throws.
Pittman Jr. would be an instant team leader and a fan favorite. A lot of analysts, including myself, are comping him to Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton, which should have Rams’ fans salivating at the mouth. Like I said, maybe not the biggest need at 57, but sometimes you have to let the board fall to you, and if MPJ falls to the Rams, it would extremely unwise not to select him.
Round 2 – Pick 52
Damon Arnette, CB – Ohio State
The Rams secondary, specifically at the corner position, is going to look completely different from what it looked like just one year ago. Three key starters, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Nickell Robey-Coleman are all gone. Les Snead doubled-down (with two first-round picks) and made Jalen Ramsey the face of the unit, but there are plenty of question marks after that.
Troy Hill played well enough last season to be considered the starter, alongside Ramsey. The Rams seem bullish on Darious Williams, as he was fairly consistent when called upon towards the end of the 2019 campaign. David Long Jr., a third-round pick from last season, should certainly see his snaps increase, and may even push for the starting job, as he is great in man-coverage so we will see how he adapts to Brandon Staley’s scheme.
Donte Deayon and Adonis Alexander are also on the roster, but that is it. A unit that had so much depth and clarity going into last season now has Jalen Ramsey and a lot of camp battles. This is certainly a position that the Rams will address in the draft, and with pick 52 they can get a day 1 starter.
Depending on who you talk to, Damon Arnette is one of the top-rated corners in this class. He may not have the same clout as some of the other DBs because he took a bit longer to develop at Ohio State, but his senior season was remarkable. A true shutdown corner that can play aggressive man coverage, or have the awareness and anticipation in a zone scheme.
He has great ball skills and often challenges receivers, never allowing the gap or distance to grow very wide.
His role with the Rams would be perfect as he would not be asked to cover the number one receiver, Ramsey has that covered (pun intended), but he could immediately step into a starting role and cover the number two or three receiver. At the very least, he would push one of the other corners to improve, and could still play in nickel or dime packages. Arnette would be a very welcomed addition to the Staley defense at pick 52.
Round 2 – Pick 57
Julian Okwara, Edge – Notre Dame
Arguably the biggest need for the Rams to address in the draft is at the edge position. They let Dante Fowler Jr. walk and sign with Atlanta, and they decided to part ways with Clay Matthews. The pair had 19.5 sacks between the two of them in 2019, even with Matthews missing three games due to a jaw injury. The remaining Rams’ players combined for 21.5 sacks, so obviously there is a void to fill.
Leonard Floyd was added in free agency, but he will most likely be utilized for his versatility more so than his pass rush prowess. So that leads us to the draft to add talent and depth.
Julian Okwara may not be on a lot of people’s radar due to his limited final season at Notre Dame because of injury. He suffered a broken leg after nine games, which saw him produce 18 tackles, six for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and one blocked kick. He had 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks the previous season.
Okwara may be a bit of a riskier pick thanks to his injury and his drop in production from his junior season, but when you put the tape on, there is a lot to like. His size alone (6’4, 252) should have scouts drooling over his potential in the NFL, especially in Brandon Staley’s modified Vic Fangio system.
He is the perfect style of player for this defense as he boasts long arms and great burst off the line. He has good anticipation off the snap and is able to get a good jump on most tackles. He throws his hands good at the point of attack, and has good bend around tackles on the outside, or can cut inside with great athleticism. He also has the ability to drop off into coverage and be more than a body in space, which if you have read my articles in the past or listen to Bleav In LA Football, you know that this is extremely important for new DC Brandon Staley.
Perhaps his greatest trait is that he is still a very raw pass rusher, so there is only room for growth. One of his knocks is that he has limited rush moves and relies mostly on his strength and athleticism. With the proper coaching and mentorship, this can certainly be improved and Okwara can become one of the better edge rushers in his class. Plus, playing near Aaron Donald will make anyone better.
Round 2 – Pick 52
Josh Uche, Edge – Michigan
In this scenario, the Rams attack their biggest area of need right off the bat. I value some of the other edge rushers a little higher than Uche, but he seems to be a fan favorite, and other prospects such as Okwara had already been selected in this go around.
While I am not as high on Uche as most, he is certainly versatile, and with limited opportunity did provide decent production. His first opportunity as a starter came in his final season, and he racked up 8.5 sacks, 35 tackles, 11.5 for loss, and two forced fumbles.
A lot of the tools that he possesses are what you look for in a pass rusher, but the biggest question is if he can sustain these qualities through an entire game and then on through the season. Like many of these prospects, he has great athleticism and pretty good speed off the snap, but, again, he has fairly limited pass rush moves as he relies primarily on speed and bull rush. He still needs to improve reading offenses and anticipation and can improve his cover skills, as most plays, he was more of just a zone body in space.
From all the tape that I watched, I see more of a situational pass rusher, which in my opinion, may not be the value that you are looking for with your first pick in the draft. I still selected him, however, due to his athletic ability and the possibility that given the opportunity at more reps, and playing with a solid defensive line, could inflate his potential.
Round 2 – Pick 57
Damon Arnette, CB – Ohio State
You can look to Senario #2 for all of the analysis on Arnette, but in this situation he fell to me at 57. To be honest, I would just really love for Arnette to be in this secondary as he would be an tremendous asset alongside Jalen Ramsey. He’s one of those players that you don’t wait and hope he falls to you, just go get him!
So there you have it, 3 different scenarios for who the Rams can and should take in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft. What do you think? What scenario would you go with?
Leading up to the draft, we will be publishing articles round be round leading up to a final 7-round consensus mock draft, so be sure to stick with The LAFB Network for the remainder of draft season and beyond!