I know the Titans had the 5th pick selection in this past draft, but in my order for the season predictions I am going by actual draft order regardless who picked. So, in that case it will be the Los Angles Rams I discuss in this edition of my Season Predictions. As always, I am not a professional in anyway when it comes to being a team analyst or the sort. Instead, I like creating banter among fans and spark constructive debates. So, without further adieu, here we go!
This whole season for the Rams is whether or not Jared Goff begins to show some sort of progress after a disastrous rookie year. I do not blame him for it last year since he was just not ready to play and his coaching staff led by the offensively inept Jeff Fisher did not do him any favors at all. His best offensive weapon was the journeyman Kenny Britt and a Todd Gurley who had no ability to find the hole or create separation. Some of that is on the line, but Gurley also showed very poor vision himself his sophomore season. Under new coach Sean McVay who made Kirk Cousins look like a top quarterback the past few seasons should find some way to make this offense better than last year. If it gets any worst than this team should just be relegated for a college team.
As mentioned before I doubt Goff has a worst season than he had last year. They have done a nice job finding him a quality left tackle with Andrew Whitworth. While also drafting him a bunch of new weapons from Gerald Everett at tight end and then bringing in Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds. They also acquired Robert Woods, who when healthy is a much better option than Kenny Britt could have been. The only reason I would have liked them to keep Britt is to maintain some continuity for Goff with a receiver he liked a lot, but for his price tag it makes sense they let him go. I am not going to say this offense will be a power house, but I suspect it will be good enough and with their relatively easy schedule they should win a few games just off of that.
Their defense is something that worries me however, with the loss of Jeff Fisher. The former longtime coach is not good at a lot of things, but he was a great defensive coach who got the most out of his players on that side of the ball. Especially, at the defensive backs where he developed a lot of talent. It will be interesting to see if they take a step back under a new regime. I also have no clue why you decide to move to a 3-4 front when you have one of the best 3-technique tackles in the league in Aaron Donald. Of course schemes can be a hybrid or change depending on personnel. However, like I said this side of the ball was actually really successful under Fisher and I would have rather they keep it status quo on that side and add more talent instead of overhauling it completely.
I suspect the Rams will take a step forward this season and have the possibility of winning a few more games than expected. They have winnable games with two match ups with the 49ers and the rest of their division that they play very well. As well as, the Jags, Texans, Vikings, Saints, and a couple of East Coast teams traveling West which is always a tough task. Ending with a respectable 6-10 record for a rebuilding team would be a great way to kick off Sean McVay's tenure.
2 (12) - Gerald Everett TE - This was a nice move in my opinion here finding a target with a ton of upside to grow with Jared Goff. They did have a half way decent stable of tight ends, but Everett will be far and away the best one out of all of them. He may not be the best blocker or have the greatest size however, he does have great athletic ability to fly down the field and be an easy target. I would have liked to see them draft an interior blocker here, but this was not a good draft for blockers so I can understand why they went with a pass catcher instead.
3 (5) - Cooper Kupp WR - I have to say, I was one of the doubters on Kupp after his mediocre performance at the Senior Bowl and Combine. However, according to many sources at Rams camps this spring he has been by far their best receiver with great route running ability and hands. I doubt he will ever become a go to option with his lack of deep speed or amazing size. He should become a nice intermediate target who can be a chain mover for Jared Goff.
3 (27) - John Johnson S - The Rams had to find some new safety talent after they have been poached at the position the past few seasons. However, there were better options rather than Johnson at this juncture who could create a bigger impact. He is not the fastest or biggest safety so his upside is a little limited in my opinion. However, his instincts and ball skills will allow him to take some snaps if the guys in front of him falter.
4 (10) - Josh Reynolds WR - I really liked this pick and a lot more than the Kupp selection. If not for some alcohol related incidents off the field I think Reynolds would have been a higher selection. He has a lot of ability to stretch the field with his sneaky speed and size to block out defenders. For the Rams he can become an immediate contributor and maybe a main stay on the outside for a long time if he shows enough development and upside.
4 (19) - Sam Ebukam OLB - The Rams seemed to really like Eastern Washington in this draft getting Ebukam and his teammate Kupp. Ebukam is a raw pass rusher with a nice amount of upside to be more than a rotational piece. Under coach Wade Phillips who likes to rotate pass rushers he should see good amount of snaps, but his impact may come later as he develops.
6 (5) - Tanzel Smart DT - As mentioned earlier Phillips likes to rotate on the defensive front keeping his players fresh and Smart is another rotational piece. He is a sort of hybrid player who can move from nose tackle to the three-technique when needed and has a good well rounded game to be a solid contributor.
7 (16) - Ejuan Price OLB - Price is joining another former undersized Pitt Panther in Aaron Donald. I will not say he will have the same immediate success, but maybe Donald can show him the ropes. Price does have some of the best explosive ability in the whole draft, but concerns about his size is what caused him to slide. He is a quality player to take a flyer on in the 7th round.
2018 Off Season:
All in all I think this season very much hinges on what the Rams will do about Goff and his future depending on how he performs. I really doubt they will give up on him after 2 years with how much they gave up to get him, but if he looks bad again you have to be concerned if you are the Rams. If he looks better than the Rams need to continue to help him by upgrading the interior of the line and on the right side to keep his pocket clean. They could also look to find new secondary pieces with so many of their players leaving on that unit the past few seasons. If they do have a poor season again and Goff still looks good I think that would be great for them since they will probably be able to move that pick for more in an attempt to recoup some of the picks they traded to get Goff.
My 2018 Mock Draft:
1 (8) - Connor Williams OT Texas
2 (7) - Mason Cole C Michigan