With the first wave of free agency all clear, analysts have started to key in on a few different positions for the Rams at the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The NFL Draft is just a month away, with Rd. 1 taking place on April 25. Here are the latest predictions from around the web.
Let’s start with the most popular pick this week in Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins.
Three analysts have the Rams taking Wilkins at No. 31 in this edition of the roundup: NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, and USA Today TouchdownWire’s Doug Farrar.
From Zierlein: “Wilkins is an upfield defensive tackle with the ability to get into gaps and bring the ruckus, just like defensive coordinator Wade Phillips likes.”
From Miller: “Free agency has left the Rams with more holes, but an aggressive front office will find ways to plug those holes. Like adding Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews on team-friendly, veteran deals to add talent while appealing to players who want a chance at a Super Bowl ring. Barring a return of Ndamukong Suh, the Rams could look to fill his role in the defense by selecting a hard-nosed, high-motor tackle from Clemson at No. 31 overall. Wilkins is a solid athlete who's best trait is his relentless style of play. Coaches rave about his leadership and work ethic, which is contagious. Playing next to Aaron Donald, Wilkins could be a big problem for centers and guards in the NFL.”
From Farrar: “With Ndamukong Suh out to market … it may be time for the Rams to give Aaron Donald a new buddy. If circumstances allow Wilkins to drop this far on the board, one can imagine general manager Les Snead rushing to the podium to turn in a card with his name on it. He’d be a prefect fit in Wade Phillips’ attack fronts, and Wilkins is as clean off the field as they come.”
Checking into the Combine at 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, Wilkins is regarded as one of the top defensive tacks in the draft. Winner of the 2018 William V. Campbell trophy — known as the “Academic Heisman” — Wilkins recorded 40.5 tackles for loss and 16.0 sacks in his career at Clemson. Wilkins was a unanimous All-American in 2018 and is a three-time first-team All-ACC honoree.
Another popular pick this week was center Garrett Bradbury out of North Carolina State, with NFL.com teammates Bucky Brooks and Charles Davis mocking him to the Rams at No. 31.
From Brooks: “High IQ pivot with outstanding movement skills and technique. Bradbury plays like a 10-year vet at the position and would add more youth and athleticism to the frontline.”
From Davis: “Impressed at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. The Rams find a Day 1 starter to replace John Sullivan, whose 2019 option was declined by the club.”
Bradbury was the 2018 Rimington Trophy winner as the best center in college football. He was initially a tight end at NC State before switching to the offensive line in 2015 after a redshirt season in 2014. A three-year starter, Bradbury checked into the Combine at 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds. He put up 34 reps on the bench press.
We’ll go back to South Carolina for the next pick, as SB Nation’s Dan Kadar has Los Angeles taking Clemson defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence at No. 31.
“Although some want the Rams to trade back and accumulate some extra draft capital, there will be some starter-level players available at No. 31. One of them is Lawrence, who could occupy the space Ndamukong Suh is vacating. Lawrence is a massive player at 342 pounds, but in the past he showed some ability as a pass rusher,” Kadar writes.
Lawrence played alongside Wilkins in the Tigers’ defensive front, making 18.0 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks in three seasons. A two-time CFP National Champion, Lawrence also had four passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, and an interception in his collegiate career. He put up 36 bench reps at the Combine, where he checked in at 6-foot-4 and 342 pounds.
CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso also sees the Rams addressing their defensive front at No. 31, mocking Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons to the club.
“The Rams may have to wait a bit for Simmons, who's coming off a torn knee ligament. When healthy, he's a tremendous defensive tackle prospect who'd be borderline unfair next to Aaron Donald,” Trapasso writes.
A two-time first-team All-SEC honoree, Simmons tore his ACL while going through drills in preparation for the draft. That will no doubt hurt his draft stock, but Simmons was productive in three years at Mississippi State — recording 33.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, seven passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Over at Rotoworld, Josh Norris has L.A. selecting offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom out of Boston College.
“One major key to the Rams success over the last two years has been offensive line health and continuity. That will be tested this year without John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold,” Norris writes.
A four-year starter, Lindstrom is from a football family — his father played at Boston College and is in the program’s Hall of Fame. Lindstrom was a first-team All-ACC honoree after his senior season. He played most of his career at right guard at BC, but also played some at right tackle in his junior year.
For a little something different, Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports has L.A. addressing its defensive backfield with Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne.
“A former wide receiver, Layne (6-foot-1, 4.5 40 at the combine) is a physical cornerback with exceptional ball skills who would immediately add depth in L.A.,” Wilson writes.
Wilson has been consistent in this pick, with A converted wide receiver, Layne started 26 games at cornerback for the Spartans and played in 34 total games — recording 24 career pass breakups and three interceptions. He had 15 of those breakups in the 2018 season, leading him to receive consensus second-team All-Big Ten recognition. The Cleveland, Ohio native ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the Combine and had recorded a 37.5-inch vertical.
And finally, Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated/The MMQB mocked Washington safety Taylor Rapp to L.A. at No. 31.
“A longer-term solution than Eric Weddle could be in the works,” Orr writes.
Listed at 6-feet and 208 pounds, Rapp is a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 honoree from the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In three years at Washington, he recorded seven interceptions, six passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 6.0 sacks.