Barring an unforeseen trade, the Rams will enter their third consecutive draft without a first-round pick, though the lack of a Top 32 selection hasn't necessarily been a detriment to Los Angeles' ability to address its roster needs, as recent examples like 2020 second-round pick Cam Akers (No. 52 overall) and sixth-round pick Jordan Fuller (No. 199 overall) have shown.
When asked by theRams.com about the direction Los Angeles could take at No. 57 overall based on their current needs ahead of both free agency and this year's NFL Draft, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he could see the Rams addressing needs at either offensive line or edge rusher there.
"When you look at them, I think you're trying to find more edge rush. We'll see what happens in free agency," Jeremiah said on a video conference call Tuesday. "And then you can look on the offensive line, both interior and at tackle. So those would be the two places I would look."
As Jeremiah alluded to, whether the Rams choose to add an edge rusher with their first selection depends on how free agency unfolds for them. It's possible they re-sign one or both of Leonard Floyd and Samson Ebukam, who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next week. Plus, as discussed in each player's respective free agent spotlight, adding their replacement through free agency can't be ruled out, either.
With that in mind, if Los Angeles elects to take an edge rusher in the second round, Jeremiah said Houston senior Payton Turner is a prospect who would make sense for L.A. Turner posted a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks while playing Bandit – the pass-rushing linebacker position within the Cougars defense.
"He lost some weight a little bit coming into this year. He was pretty dominant at the Senior Bowl," Jeremiah said. "(6-foot-5), 270 pounds, and he can play with his hand down or up. He's got really active hands, he's got speed to power. He's an interesting player that's just outside my top 50 as a rusher."
The Rams could have multiple quality options if they went offensive line instead, as Jeremiah said earlier in the call that he liked the depth of this year's offensive line class. If they chose that route – which could be a possibility with center Austin Blythe scheduled to become a free agent – Jeremiah mentioned Illinois redshirt junior Kendrick Green as a potential prospect that would make sense for them at No. 57.
Green primarily played left guard his first two seasons, starting all 12 games there as a redshirt freshman in 2018, followed by another 12 in 2019, plus one start at center. In 2020, he started all eight games – making three of them at center in place of injured starter Doug Kramer – and his performance earned him Second Team All-America recognition from USA TODAY, as a consensus First Team All-Big Ten selection. Green ended his college career with 33 consecutive starts.
"Somebody like Kendrick Green from Illinois is fascinating to me," Jeremiah said. "He's played left guard, he's played center. He can bend, he's explosive. I thought he's somebody that had his best football out ahead of him. He's listed at 6-4, 315 pounds but he can really move. That would be one as an interior lineman (that) I would keep an eye on just outside the top 50."
Take a look at experts' projections for the Los Angeles Rams first draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.