NFL Free Agency negotiations are opening this week but don’t let that distract you from the NFL Draft. The Combine is a few weeks behind us and Pro Days are underway which means it is a perfect time to see what prospects have helped their stock over the past few weeks.
The Los Angeles Rams were a surprise addition to the 2017 playoffs. Head coach Sean McVay enters his second season at the helm and there are already some tough decisions facing his roster.
Some of the answers to the upcoming wholes on the offensive line, defensive line and secondary could have been answered with prospects at the NFL Combine.
Here are some winners the Rams better have their eyes on at No. 23.
LSU linebacker Arden Key
Key was once considered a top prospect in his class. He dealt with injuries and off-field issues that pushed his stock down in 2017. Key needed great interviews and athletic test to put himself back into contention.
Instead, Key sat out the 40-yard-dash, he weighed less than expected and he was average in the jumps. That’s okay for a team like the Rams who select at the back end of the first round.
The Rams needed a pass rusher before they traded away Robert Quinn a few weeks ago. Key has the size and length to develop into an ideal hybrid rusher in Wade Philips’ scheme. He’s worth consideration given his LSU production and upside.
Washington DT Vita Vea
Again, the Rams defense is re-inventing themselves this season. We saw that with the trade for Peters and the trades of Alec Ogletree and Quinn. Now, they will need to add a true nose tackle to help the Rams make the full transition to a 3-4 defense.
Vea dominated with combine by posting 41 reps in the bench press and a 5.10 seconds 40-yard-dash at six-feet-four and 347 pounds. He showed the same freak athleticism at Washington. Vea can not only use his big-body to drop anchor but he can also rush the passer.
Imagine Vea combined with Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald? That is a deadly defensive line that will terrify offensive lines. If Vea is available, that is too tempting of an option for the Rams to pass up. In fact, L.A. met with Vea at the combine too.
Florida WR Antonio Callaway
The Rams have a vacancy at the wide receiver position with Tavon Austin on his way out and Sammy Watkins testing the market. Acquiring Watkins cost them a second-round pick in this year’s draft.Thus, they may have to wait until the middle rounds to address the need.
L.A. needs some speed and playmaking at the receiver position. Callaway blew people away with his 4.41 40-yard-dash time at the combine. People were also enamored with his potential at Florida. He never met that potential because he was caught up in separate sexual assault, possession and credit card fraud incidents. All of this will make him a late round pick and a potential steal for a team like the Rams.
Los Angeles has some late-round draft capital that might make it easy to take a flier on Callaway in the later rounds. He’d provide a deep threat to returning ability. Of course, it all depends on his interviews and how he would fit the culture. Talent-wise, Calloway makes sense.
FSU SS Derwin James
The Rams are in a great position to take the best player available. James absolutely dominated the combine with top numbers in the broad and vert jump as well as the bench press. He ran a 4.47 40-yard-dash too.
However, the depth of this second class could lead to some surprises in the middle of the first round. Additionally, the strength at quarterback, in the front seven and running back could make players like James slide.
Nonetheless, it’s unlikely that James would be available. The Rams better not think twice if he is. This is an ideal situation for James too since he only has to worry about making plays.
OSU OL Billy Price
Price hurt himself both physically and figuratively at the combine. Price was a big part of an OSU program that played in a lot of big games. He is considered one of the top players at his position but a pectoral injury suffered on the bench press puts that in jeopardy. It’s a minor injury and he’s expected to be ready for the season but he already plays an undervalued position. Therefore, he could stumble into the middle rounds during the draft.
Still, the Rams can get him at a bargain because of that. Los Angeles needs help at the center position since John Sullivan is older and a free agent. Price can provide an immediate upgrade when he is healthy. He could also stabilize the position for the young Rams offense too.