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2024 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Rams projections after first wave of free agency

The initial wave of free agency was a busy one for the Rams, between the additions of Jonah Jackson, Colby Parkinson and Darious Williams and the retirement of Aaron Donald.

Here's how experts' draft projections for the Rams have changed in wake of those moves. All projections are for the Rams' first-round pick (19th overall) unless noted otherwise.


Date: March 18

Expert: Trevor Sikkema, NFL Draft Analyst

The pick(s): Illinois iDL Jer'Zhan Newton (pictured above)

Notes:Sikkema has the Rams adding to the defensive line in wake of Donald's retirement. In the 6-foot-2, 304-pound Newton, Los Angeles would be getting the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and AP Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, as well as a consensus All-American after posting 52 total tackles (8.5 for loss), 7.5 sacks, nine QB hurries, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and four blocked kicks last season.

"Aaron Donald's retirement is disappointing for the Rams, but alas, he has chosen to ride off into the football sunset on the road to the Hall of Fame," Sikkema writes. "The Rams know how important top-notch interior play is. That's why I see Newton as being high on their board. He earned elite cumulative PFF grades in both pass rush and run defense over the past two seasons."

Date: March 18

Expert: Ryan Wilson, NFL Draft writer

The pick(s): Newton

Notes:See above for notes on Newton.

"Aaron Donald retired and while it would take 4-5 players to replace his production (and that may be underselling it), newton is a twitched-up defensive lineman coming off a really good season for Illinois," Wilson writes. "Cornerback was also a consideration here."

Date: March 18

Expert: Connor Rogers, NFL Draft writer

The pick(s): Newton

Notes:See PFF section for notes on Newton.

"This isn't just a reactionary pick to Aaron Donald retiring," Rogers writes. "On tape, Newton is easily a top 15 player in this class. He's a master at getting off blocks with pro-ready hands and has more juice as a pass-rusher than given credit for."

Date: March 18

Expert: Doug Farrar, NFL Editor

The pick(s): Alabama CB Terrion Arnold

Notes:The 6-0, 189 Arnold was an AP First-Team All-America performer in 2023 after leading Alabama and finishing tied for most in the SEC with five interceptions, along with 63 total tackles and a team-high 12 pass breakups.

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