The NFL Combine begins on Wednesday and draft analysts around the web have put out their latest predictions for who the Rams will select at No. 31 overall in the 2019 draft.
These will likely continue to shift as the offseason continues — especially after the first wave of free agency. But for now, much like the first roundup of the offseason, most analysts have Los Angeles taking a defensive player in the first round.
Here’s what eight analysts are projecting in this edition of the mock draft roundup.
Check out photos of Los Angeles Rams players at the NFL Combine through the years. (Credit: Associated Press)
We’ll start at ESPN, where Mel Kiper Jr. has L.A. taking Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson at No. 31. In his first mock, Kiper projected Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones to the club.
“Ferguson was in the news last week after his combine invite was rescinded when it was revealed he was convicted of simple battery his freshman year,” Kiper writes (ESPN+ subscription required - $$$). “That shouldn't hurt his draft stock, and he's expected to be able to undergo medical evaluations for teams. Ferguson (6-5, 260) had 45 sacks in his four-year career -- including 17.5 last season -- and set the FBS record for sacks. He could add some weight and play end in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense.”
Ferguson was highly productive in his senior season at Louisiana Tech, recording 17.5 sacks and 26.0 tackles for loss in 2018 — becoming the 2018 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. In four collegiate seasons, Ferguson put up 67.5 tackles for loss, 45.0 sacks, and seven forced fumbles.
At NFL media, Rams color commentator Maurice Jones-Drew has the Rams taking Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker.
“The Rams add depth to a position where teams need at least three viable options. Baker's ability to play press is why I like him here,” Jones-Drew writes.
In four seasons at Georgia, Baker made seven interceptions and recorded 23 passes defensed. He was the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s most outstanding defensive back.
Staying with NFL media, former general manager Charley Casserly has the Rams selecting Washington safety Taylor Rapp.
“Rapp would be a nice addition if the Rams lose Lamarcus Joyner in free agency,” Casserly writes.
Rapp was an immediate contributor as a freshman, starting 10 games for the Huskies and earning Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player fo the Year. He was named first-team All-Pac-12 for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He made seven interceptions, six passes defensed, forced two fumbles, and recovered three fumbles in three years at Washington.
Over at Bleacher Report, Mike Tainer projects Michigan linebacker Devin Bush to the Rams at No. 31.
“I'm a bit of a Devin Bush skeptic, because he lacks sideline-to-sideline range and could end up a liability in pass coverage against Alvin Kamara or James White types,” Tainer writes. “But he's a big hitter between the tackles and a nasty blitzer, and he fits the style and tone of the Rams defense.”
“Alabama safety Deionte Thompson and Washington safety Taylor Rapp are also options with this pick if the Rams move on from free agent safety Lamarcus Joyner. Basically, look for them to scoop up the best defender who slips to the end of the round.”
Bush was quite productive at Michigan over the last two seasons, recording a combined 18.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks from 2017-2018. He was the 2018 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after recording 66 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and four passes defensed in his junior season.
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For another linebacker, USA Today’s Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz has Los Angeles going with Alabama ILB Mack Wilson.
“Wade Phillips' defense could use some more athleticism at the second level, and Wilson should be poised to make a significant leap once he hones his instincts,” Middlehurst-Schwartz writes.
Playing in 33 games over the last three years, Wilson made 113 total tackles for the Crimson Tide. He had 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks in 2018 along with five passes defensed and a pair of interceptions. In all, Wilson recorded six interceptions in his collegiate career — one of which he returned for a touchdown
Sports Illustrated’s Kalyn Kahler projects Old Dominion edge rusher Oshane Ximines to L.A. at No. 31 — which would be a historic selection.
“Ximines will be the first player from Old Dominion to be picked in the NFL draft,” Kahler writes. “He had 12 sacks in 2018 and had a great week at the Senior Bowl. He already has a variety of pass-rushing moves at his disposal.”
Ximines is arguably the best defensive player to ever suit up for Old Dominion, recording a program record 33 sacks, 51.5 tackles for loss, 33 quarterback hurries, and 11 forced fumbles. A 2018 first-team All-Conference USA defensive end, Ximines recorded 18.0 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, an interception, and four forced fumbles in his senior season.
For a little something different, CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso has L.A. picking up North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury in the first round.
“This may seem a bit early for Bradbury because he needs to add weight at the next level, but with the amount of zone running plays the Rams run, this supremely athletic pivot is a smart investment for Sean McVay's club,” Trapasso writes.
Bradbury won the Rimington Trophy in 2018, given to the nation’s best center. According to the North State Journal, Bradbury played 99 percent of the Wolfpack’s snaps without allowing a single quarterback pressure in his redshirt senior season.
Finally, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar did a three-round mock draft — complete with compensatory picks. In the first round, Kadar has L.A. selecting West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste.
“Rodger Saffold could depart the Rams in free agency, and 37-year-old Andrew Whitworth won’t be around forever. It would be smart for Los Angeles to start working on its offensive line this offseason. Cajuste is a little raw, but his game is that of a starting offensive tackle in the NFL,” Kadar writes.
Cajuste was the 2018 Big 12 co-offensive lineman of the year after starting 11 games at left tackle. He was a three-year starter for West Virginia, playing in 31 total games starting 30 of them.
Kadar also mocked USC edge rusher to Los Angeles at No. 94, and Ohio State offensive lineman Michael Jordan to the club at No. 99.