With the Super Bowl complete -- congratulations to the Denver Broncos, by the way -- it’s time to close the chapter on last season and begin anew with 2016. Here on therams.com, we’re getting the ball rolling on the offseason with our first edition of the mock draft roundup.
There are a lot of draft analysts out there and many have thoughts about what the Rams will do with their first-round pick at No. 15 overall. In each roundup leading up to the draft on April 28, we’ll take a look at a few predictions from around the web.
As a disclaimer, do keep in mind that these are, at best, educated guesses. We’ll all find out Los Angeles’ pick at the same time in the spring when commissioner Roger Goodell reads the card from the podium in Chicago.
Without further ado, let’s get to those mock drafts.
Given the Rams’ struggles offensively in 2015, it’s no real surprise to see many analysts predicting the club addressing the game’s most important position at No. 15. To start, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the team taking Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch in Rd. 1.
“Do I think Lynch is a Week 1 starter? Absolutely not. Do I think he has significant upside and would be a potential starter in Year 2 with a roster still on the rise? Sure,” Kiper writes (Insider subscription required -- $$).
Lynch was a common prediction for Los Angeles’ first-round pick throughout January. Kiper’s ESPN colleague, Todd McShay, also had the Memphis quarterback going to the Rams in his second mock of the offseason.
“While I still have more work to do on him, Lynch does have a lot of the tools you look for in future NFL starters -- size, arm strength, mobility and the ability to create when the initial play breaks down,” McShay said (Insider subscription required -- $$). “Two concerns I have early in the pre-draft process: his inconsistent decision-making and accuracy.”
Three at NFL media concur with the pick, as Daniel Jeremiah, Lance Zierlein, and Chad Rueter all have L.A. selecting Lynch at No. 15. Jeremiah noted, “Lynch is very raw, but he has unlimited potential.”
Widely considered one of the top-three quarterbacks in the 2016 draft, Lynch spent three years as Memphis’ starter, improving leaps and bounds over that time. As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Lynch completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,056 yards with just nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 5.9 yards per attempt. But as a redshirt junior in 2015, Lynch completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 3,778 yards with 28 touchdowns, just four interceptions, and 8.5 yards per attempt.
The signal-caller tied an FBS record with seven passing touchdowns in a half during Memphis’ 63-0 blowout victory over SMU on Nov. 28. Lynch had only nine total completions in that game.
Lynch recently told a San Francisco radio station he intends to throw at the combine, which will add to the intrigue of the event later this month.
One notable exception on the Lynch-to-the-Rams narrative is Rob Rang of The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com. He’s sticking with the quarterback position, but instead of Lynch, Rang has Cal quarterback Jared Goff falling to the Rams at No. 15.
Rang writes Goff could be the missing piece for Los Angeles contending in the NFC West, as the club already sports “Pro Bowler
“Goff lacks the build and arm strength scouts would prefer but he is an instinctive quarterback who wins with anticipation and accuracy,” Rang adds.
As another top QBs in the draft, Goff has come off the board within the top five picks from many analysts. He was a three-year starter for the Golden Bears, beginning that process as a true freshman in 2013 -- setting numerous program single-season records that first year. He continued to re-write the Cal record books for the next two seasons, finishing 2015 completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 4,714 yards passing with 43 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and 8.9 yards per attempt.
Goff has also indicated he plans to throw at the combine.
Finally, for a pretty out-of-the-box prediction, the folks at Walter Football have Los Angeles selecting defensive tackle Andrew Billings out of Baylor at No. 15. Yes, you read that right, a defensive tackle.
“This may seem like a weird pick, given that the Rams have
Billings was the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year after registering 15 tackles for loss and registering 5.5 sacks -- a mark that tied for the team lead. The defensive tackle is on the young side, as he turns 21 in March. But based on his size and strength, he does have a chance to make an impact inside early on in his career.