The NFL Combine has come and gone, and as always, plenty of mock drafts have come out making adjustments based on the results.
And in the aftermath of the Combine, analysts have been more varied on their choices for the Rams at No. 23. There are a few of the same names as we’ve seen since the beginning of #MockDraftSZN, but there are a few news ones at different positions, as well. So without further ado, here’s the latest edition of the mock draft roundup.
We’ll start with CBS Sports, where Will Brinson has the Rams taking LSU edge rusher Arden Key.
“The Rams have shown a willingness to gamble on some guys, and going with Key here is a gamble on a lot of upside,” Brinson writes.
Key was an AP first-team All-SEC honoree in 2016 when he set a program record with 12.0 sacks in a single season. He also led the Tigers with 14.5 tackles for loss in that season. Key was hampered a bit by injury in 2017, however, and played in only eight games. He finished the year with 4.0 sacks, 33 tackles — 5.5 for loss — eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Sticking at CBS Sports, Ryan Wilson has Los Angeles picking a more familiar name — Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver.
Oliver “has elite size and speed to matchup with NFL wide receivers” and would fill a need, according to Wilson.
Oliver just completed his junior season at Colorado, where he recorded 13 pass breakups and a pair of interceptions. He was a first-team All-Pac 12 honoree in 2017 and ran a 4.50 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Cornerback remains a popular pick, as Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Media mocked Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson to L.A. in his latest projection.
“Jackson will probably slide a little bit after a so-so combine performance, but his ball skills are outstanding on tape,” Jeremiah writes.
Jackson led the nation with eight interceptions in 2017, becoming an AP first-team All-American in the process. He’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, which gives him length and size to compete with tall receivers. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and had a 38-inch vertical at the NFL Combine.
For another edge rusher, NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein has Los Angeles picking up Boston College outside linebacker Harold Landry at No. 23.
“When I watch Landry, I'm reminded of Whitney Mercilus. The Rams are looking for rush help off the edge and guess who helped bring Mercilus to the Texans? Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who held the same job with Houston when it picked Mercilus,” Zierlein writes.
Landry recorded 28.0 sacks and 47.5 tackles for loss in his collegiate career. He tallied a career hight 16.5 sacks and 22.0 TFLs as a junior in 2016, before suffering a season-ending ankle injury as a senior. He checked in at 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds and ran a 4.64 40-yard dash, put up 24 reps on the bench press, and recorded a 36-inch vertical at the Combine.
Now here’s where it gets more interesting, as a few analysts have the Rams selecting an offensive lineman.
First, ESPN’s Todd McShay who has L.A. selecting UTEP guard Will Hernandez.
“There's no edge rusher worthy of this pick, so I'm going with the top-rated offensive lineman on the board. Hernandez is a monster in the running game and gives no ground to bull rushers. He'll help to keep Jared Goff protected and open up running lanes for Todd Gurley II,” McShay writes ($$).
Hernandez was a four-year starter at University of Texas El Paso, playing 49 games at left guard in his college career. He’s arguably the best offensive lineman in program history, becoming a two-time AP second-team All-American. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 348 pounds, Hernandez put up 37 reps on the bench press and ran a 5.15 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Back at NFL Media, Chad Reuter has the Rams taking another Iowa player — center James Daniels.
“Rams center John Sullivan is due to become a free agent, and Daniels' athleticism has caught the eye of scouts,” Reuter writes.
Declaring for the draft following his junior season, Daniels has been a major contributor to the Hawkeyes’ offense since his true freshman season in 2015. He started a pair of games at left guard as a freshman, but then moved to center in 2016 where he started 11 games as a sophomore and 12 games as a junior. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, Daniels put up 21 reps in the bench press at the Combine.
Finally, Chris Burke at The Athletic put together a three-round mock draft. He has L.A. taking Texas guard/tackle Connor Williams at No. 23 and then Washington State defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa at No. 87.
“Williams would give the Rams options at right tackle and both guard spots, with his long-term destination set for left tackle whenever Andrew Whitworth, now 36, wraps his career. Mata'afa is an absolute curiosity right now, after playing nose tackle in college as a 240-pounder. I'd trust Wade Phillips to find his best fit,” Burke writes ($$).
Williams missed seven games due to injury, but still elected to declare for the draft after his junior season at Texas. In all, Williams started 28 games for the Longhorns, becoming a consensus All-American after his sophomore season in 2016. He texted well at the NFL Combine, recording a 5.05 40-yard dash, 34-inch vertical, and 112-inch broad jump. He’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds.
Mata’afa was a three-time All-Pac 12 selection, including first-team honors as a redshirt junior in 2017. He recorded 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in his final season at Washington State. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 254 pounds, Mata’afa ran a 4.76 40-yard dash at the Combine and put up 26 reps on the bench press.