The Rams face the possibility of picking in the first round of this week’s NFL Draft for the first time since the franchise made a dramatic move for a quarterback and drafted Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016.
Should the Rams hold on to their No. 31 pick, the club’s needs could once again be satisfied in the opening round. The defensive line in L.A. thinned a bit with the departure of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and with just a handful of young replacements in house, a deep 2019 defensive line class could pay off with an exciting pick Thursday night in Nashville.
But is the class deep enough to reach the late first round?
“The problem for us is, it’s a very deep defensive line class, but it could get really thin even before we pick at [No.] 31. So, there’s some good and bad to being a deep defensive line class,” Snead said. “But, I do think we’ll remember this draft as one where more of those guys were drafted earlier than probably ever, and then now it’s up to the kid and the teams to get them to reach their potential.”
The class features names like Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat, Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, Notre Dame’s defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, or Ed Oliver — the defensive tackle out of Houston, who’s drawing comparisons to defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Check out photos from day five of the Los Angeles Rams Phase 1 of the offseason program.
In a recent mock draft from NFL.com’s Charles Davis, 11 of the first round’s 32 picks were defensive linemen and edge rushers. And while the speculation in mock drafts are far from a sure thing, Snead and head coach Sean McVay seem to have all possible draft options planned for the No. 31 pick and beyond — but it’s worth noting defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is in the loop.
“I was joking with Wade, the benefit of not having one the last couple years is we’re used to, let’s call it, really focusing on this area of the draft,” Snead said on Tuesday, after speaking to the value of trading back and his current players who prove the move pays off. “There’s not a lot of difference between [No.] 31 and where we [drafted] when Sean came in, that early second round. We’ve been swimming in these waters.”
“There’s going to a lot of quality players that we find in this draft, like the last couple, that are going to be key contributors,” McVay said when asked about the possibility of a first-round selection. “Once they get in the building for us, if they’re a caliber of player that we expect to contribute, that’s the most important thing. I think we can find guys in the first round and outside of that, depending upon how it shapes up.”