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MAILBAG: Will L.A. Select a DB at No. 23?

Posted Feb 8, 2018

Team insider Myles Simmons answers your questions on the Rams' 2018 Draft, a potential Aaron Donald extension, and more in this edition of the mailbag.

It’s the offseason but there’s still plenty to go over when it comes to the Los Angeles Rams. With that in mind, we’re introducing an article version of the mailbag to get your questions answered on a weekly basis.

So without any further ado, let’s get to those Qs.

I think it’s always hard to try to predict what a team will do in the draft, especially this far out. But with Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, and Nickell Robey-Coleman all set to become free agents in mid-March, it does make sense that so many analysts are mocking defensive backs to the Rams at No. 23. Plus, even if Los Angeles re-signs all three of those players, starter Kayvon Webster is currently rehabbing a season-ending Achilles injury.

All that is a preamble this: Los Angeles could do both. The club could add a defensive back through free agency and select one in the draft. By that same token, they could add an edge rusher in free agency — or re-sign free agent Connor Barwin — and select one in the draft, too. Although when it comes to outside linebackers, the Rams do still have young players like 2017 fourth-round pick Samson Ebukam, who is likely to improve in his second year.

I suppose we could have the first part of this question each week from now until the first round begins on April 26.

So, I’ll stick with the second. In almost every situation, teams are going to go with the best player available, particularly in the first round. Think about it this way — if someone had said in February 2015 that the Rams would take Todd Gurley at No. 10 overall in the upcoming draft, would you have believed it? At that point, most analysts were mocking offensive linemen to the franchise.

That said, it is going to be a bit different with Los Angeles owning the 23rd overall pick in the first round. I don’t know that the approach changes much, because my sense is that it’s always been about the best player available under general manager Les Snead. But it does become more of a guessing game at No. 23, simply because 22 players will be off the board before L.A. is on the clock.

Ah, the Aaron Donald contract. At the end of the season, Snead told reporters, “We want [Donald] to be a Ram a long time. So when we ink that deal or not — I can’t put a timeline on it. But it is a major priority, as it always will be until we get it done.”

To answer the last part of your question, I don’t think there’s much risk of Donald hitting the market any time soon because he’s under contract through the 2018 season. And in the NFL, teams don’t usually let their best core players hit free agency.

As for why it’s taking so long, there are plenty of reasons. NFL teams typically extend contracts when there’s a year remaining on current deals, and when the contract discussions began, Donald had two. Snead also said that at some point during the regular season, there was an understanding between the organization and Donald’s representation that the two sides would hit the pause button on negotiations and pick back up once the season was over.

So we don’t know when an extension will happen, and it does take two to tango. But it definitely is a priority for L.A.

That’s a good question. First off, congratulations to both Matt LaFleur and Greg Olson on their new jobs as offensive coordinator of the Titans and Raiders, respectively. Both men are leaving for what amounts to promotions with other organizations — which head coach Sean McVay had said he would be willing to let happen.

Those two departures have created some shifts within the Rams’ offensive staff. Shane Waldron has been promoted to passing game coordinator from tight ends coach. Aaron Kromer received a promotion to run game coordinator from offensive line coach. And Zac Taylor moves up from assistant wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach. Plus the Rams hired former UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch as senior offensive assistant.

But when it comes to the big picture, the playbook is still going to be the same. McVay is still going to call plays. So while there may be a few tweaks here and there, we’re probably going to see the same kind of offense on Sundays that puts a premium on creating explosive plays to score points.

Well Rich, I got off the plane in Minneapolis and it was -7 degrees on Friday. It was -5 on Sunday when the plane out took off. As I was driving home from LAX, my car read 90. Even I — someone who has said many times that weather is overrated — was very happy to be warm.

Thanks for all your questions, Rams nation. We’ll have another Mailbag next week. You can submit a question at any time on Twitter @MylesASimmons.