Check out photos of offensive linemen and running backs at the 2018 NFL Combine
A little over 24 hours remain until the official kickoff of the 2018 NFL Draft. Though the Rams will play observer rather than participant on Day 1, the club will still be making eight picks beginning in the third round.
And as we get closer to one of the NFL’s marquee events, many outside of the building have begun to speculate which position Los Angeles will target with its selections.
While the Rams offensive line was one of the most impressive units across the board last season — strengthened by the additions of Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan — some believe the club could look to add some new, young talent this weekend.
Barring injury, both Whitworth and Sullivan are expected to remain as the starting left tackle and center, respectively, through 2019. But earlier this offseason, general manager Les Snead hinted that he could be looking for a few new prospects to develop under their veteran leadership.
“What you do want to do is somehow [think about] if we do bring someone in, a younger pup, can you help develop the pups?” Snead said. “I think that's where they're at...Philosophically, whether it's right or wrong, there's a lot of belief that's a good way to go.”
Offensive lineman may be one of the less-heralded positions in the draft, but the NFL.com’s Nick Shook believes “the big fells are just as (if not more) important.” And this year’s class has plenty of talent to be talked about.
“Most drafts are stronger at tackle, or at least have more air time dedicated to the potential next franchise tackles,” Shook said. “But this draft happens to be better at guard.”
Though it’s admittedly impossible to predict which lineman will be available at No. 87, there are a few projected mid-rounders who could fit the bill for the Rams.
At guard, Mississippi State’s Martinas Rankin and Auburn’s Braden Smith are two such names. Both are first-team, All-Sec and All-American talents who are known for their high level of play and work ethic. While some mock draft analysts are quick to point out a few areas of inconsistency, the consensus is that either would develop into strong players at the next level.
Nevada’s Austin Corbett, Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby, and Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill are among several talented tackles expected to be taken in the mid-rounds. All three are highly athletic and versatile players who can take on either side of the line.