Can the Los Angeles Rams steal their cake and eat it, too? Or is JuJu Smith-Schuster to good to fall in the draft?
The Rams are looking for value with their eight picks in the 2017 NFL draft. Because they don’t have a first-round selection but do have needs at multiple positions, they need to get the best value of their picks possible.
NFLSpinZone.com thinks that can happen.
The site projected each of the Rams picks in the draft that starts Thursday (Los Angeles doesn’t get to join in until the second round on Friday). Rams fans frustrated with the lack of production will be happy to see that NFLSpinZone.com projects Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram being available with their No. 37 pick overall.
But the shocker of a prediction comes in the fourth round. L.A. has the fifth pick there, and NFLSpinZone.com says that a certain USC wide receiver still will be on the board:
Just a mere few months ago, JuJu Smith-Schuster out of USC was in the conversation for the top wide receiver in the draft. His stock hasn’t just fallen, but rather has plummeted since as he’s looked at as a back-end Day 2 selection with the potential to fall to Day 3, which he does for the Rams to their delight.
How realistic that is remains to be seen, but a Rams steal is a possibility. NFLSpinZone.com also may be basing their prediction on the recent track record of Trojans wide receivers. The knock on Smith-Schuster is his lack of breakaway speed.
Says ESPN’s Draft Analysis page: “Smith-Schuster is a possession receiver who lacks elite top-end speed to stretch the field vertically. However, he has good size, runs quality routes and has very good hands and body control when adjusting to throws outside of his frame.”
The Ringer looked at the collegiate stats of four recent USC wide receivers, Smith-Schuster among them. Jacksonville’s Marqise Lee had 248 career receptions for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns. New Rams free-agent acquisition Robert Woods had 252 receptions for 2,930 yards and 32 TDs. Philadelphia Eagles wideout Nelson Agholor had 178 receptions for 2,572 yards and 20 TDs.
Smith-Schuster’s numbers: 213 receptions, 3,092 yards and 25 TD receptions.
The best year in the NFL among the other three heralded USC WRs was Lee’s 63 receptions for 851 yards and three TDs in 2016. Not terrible numbers, but not the numbers expected from players with such rich collegiate careers.
“I get a lot of media heat about USC wide receivers not producing in the NFL,” Smith-Schuster said to The Ringer. “I tell them, ‘Look, everyone’s different. I’m my own person. And I’m here to prove everybody wrong.’”
The Rams could be hoping other teams think of Smith-Schuster as an overrated USC WR, and that he proves them wrong.
That would make the Rams steal even sweeter in the fourth round.