LOS ANGELES (AP)The Los Angeles Rams feel they got what they needed out of the NFL draft, and that doesn’t necessarily include a starter at any position.
The Rams reaffirmed their belief in the remaining veterans on their free agency-depleted roster with their actions in the draft. Where some observers saw roster needs that could be addressed after the departure of six starters in free agency and trades, the Rams’ top brass sees already solid depth that will only be supplemented by their nine draft picks and a slew of undrafted free agent signings.
”When I say (the roster has) no holes to fill, I think it’s a compliment to the guys we have in-house and the roster that’s been built here,” coach Sean McVay said Saturday. ”All of these (draft picks) provide value and depth. … Each of these guys fills out the skill sets in the (position) rooms they’re going into. It’s been a really good weekend, and I know we got better without a doubt.”
The Rams don’t often follow conventional wisdom in their draft selections, and this year fits that pattern.
They didn’t have a first-round pick for the fifth straight year, and they used their first choice on a speedy but undersized receiver – one of their deepest position groups. They surprisingly picked an inside linebacker with their next selection, and their third-day choices didn’t include a center – or any offensive linemen at all.
Given their self-perceived roster solidity, it’s no surprise the Rams chose three freakishly athletic players with similarly incredible potential and high ceilings who still need coaching and growth: second-round receiver Tutu Atwell, Central Arkansas cornerback Robert Rochell and Central Florida receiver/tight end Jacob Harris.
The Rams addressed their defensive depth with four of their six picks in the first six rounds. On Saturday, they also turned five picks into seven on the third day of the draft by trading down twice.
Los Angeles selected Texas A&M defensive tackle Bobby Brown III to fill a need following Michael Brockers’ departure, and the Rams used their second fourth-round pick on Rochell, a high school sprinter and former receiver.
The Rams added two more pass-catchers to go with Atwell in Harris and Notre Dame’s Ben Skowronek. They also landed defensive end Earnest Brown, a former teammate of Skowronek at Northwestern before Skowronek transferred, and edge rusher Chris Garrett of Division II Concordia St. Paul.
Los Angeles did not draft an obvious starting center after losing Austin Blythe to Kansas City in free agency, but the team’s top brass says the solution is already in the building.
The Rams claim they still have faith in Brian Allen, a third-round pick in 2018 who started nine games in 2019 and then was inactive throughout last season. Coleman Shelton, who appeared in 26 games as a backup lineman over the past two years, also can compete for the job, McVay said.
The coach also pointed out that starting guard Austin Corbett could move over to center, as could a few other guards in the Rams’ veteran group.
OFF THE LINE
The Rams have chosen just one offensive lineman in the last two drafts, and that was Tremayne Anchrum in the seventh round last year. That’s not a problem, according to McVay, who just hired new offensive line coach Kevin Carberry.
”When you look at the 11 offensive linemen, 10 of those 11 have played meaningful snaps in real games,” McVay said. ”It’s a really competitive group.”
Snead even said he doubted a offensive lineman who had been drafted this year could crack the Rams’ group of eight active linemen on Sundays, saying he would have had ”a redshirt year.”
A.D. IS HIS PREROGATIVE
Bobby Brown was thrilled and a bit overwhelmed to land with the Rams and play alongside one of his idols, three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
”That’s one of my favorite players,” Brown said. ”I don’t really even know what to say. I don’t even know how to feel. It feels like an out-of-body experience.”
Brown could earn playing time early on the Rams’ line after the trade of Brockers. He’ll compete with A’Shawn Robinson, Greg Gaines and others for reps alongside Donald and Sebastian Joseph-Day.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO
Earnest Brown called himself ”the happiest man alive right now” after the Rams chose him with the 174th overall pick. The Rams stayed close to Brown during draft preparations, with defensive line coach Eric Henderson making weekly contact with the versatile 6-foot-4 lineman.
Brown improved his draft stock last season after playing sparingly in 2019 due to injuries.
”You all had – well, now I can say we – we had the best defense the last year, and I can just put some more on that as well,” Brown said. ”to learn from some defensive linemen from the Rams, it’s the best feeling in the world – especially Aaron Donald.”
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