Los Angeles Rams Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Greg Gaines, DT, Washington – Round 4
Les Snead has made some brilliant picks for the the Rams to go along with some epic busts. I didn’t like some of his second-day picks in the past like Isaiah Pead and Brian Quick, and this year, his second-day group looked shaky. Thus, I’m going to Day 3 for a selection of a solid starter to emerge from this draft class. Gaines was a really nice value pick for the Rams in the fourth round, as he easily could have gone on the second day.

The 6-foot-1, 312-pounder is a strong nose tackle at the point of attack who has a surprising burst, with more speed and athleticism than one would think. In 2018, Gaines recorded 55 tackles with 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for a loss and one interception. He was a solid nose tackle run plugger for Washington. Gaines then put together a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, showing some pass-rush skill in the one-on-ones.

For the Rams, I think Gaines could emerge as a nose tackle in the middle of Wade Phillips’ defense. He would bring some run defense and an ability to eat up blockers at the point of attack. Next to Aaron Donald, Gaines definitely has the potential to become a solid starter for the Rams.

2018: Joseph Noteboom, OT
2017: Cooper Kupp, WR
2016: Pharoh Cooper, WR
2015: Jamon Brown, G
2014: Aaron Donald, DT
2013: Stedman Baily, WR

Most Likely To Bust

Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma – Round 3
The Rams needed some youth and depth on their blocking front, so it wasn’t surprising to see them select a blocker on the second day of the draft. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is aging and appeared close to retirement after last year, but Whitworth is returning to Los Angeles for 2019. The Rams drafted an understudy in Evans, but I think Evans making the transition to the NFL could be problematic.

Evans was an okay college blocker, but when I spoke to team sources, they weren’t high on him for the NFL. They saw Evans as more of a third-day pick even though he had received some projections of going in the top half of the 2019 NFL Draft. While he played left tackle for Oklahoma, sources say that Evans moves like a right tackle and does not have left-tackle athleticism. He also is not powerful, and that makes him a poor fit at right tackle in the NFL for running the ball. Evans will probably have to move inside to guard as a pro, but he is going to need developmental time to get stronger.

Aside from Taylor Rapp, I wasn’t a big fan of the second-day haul the Rams drafted. But of those picks, Evans stands out to me as having the most bust potential.

2018: Brian Allen, C
2017: John Johnson, S
2016: Jared Goff, QB
2015: Rob Havenstein, OT
2014: Tre Mason, RB
2013: T.J. McDonald, S

Potential Boom Pick

Taylor Rapp, S, Washington – Round 2
This was an easy choice because I don’t believe any of the other Rams draft picks has real boom-pick potential. Los Angeles needed safety help after losing Lamarcus Joyner in free agency due to Eric Weddle nearing the end of his excellent career. Rapp can learn from Weddle and eventually take over as the leader in the Rams’ secondary.

For the NFL, Rapp would fit best as a strong safety and looks like he could be a starting strong safety early in his NFL career. While he is not a thumper, Rapp has good instincts that turn him into a solid defender. His best attribute could be his blitzing, as he is very good at chasing down the quarterback. He is a quality tackler and run defender who plays well near the line of scrimmage. As a pro, Rapp should be a solid run defender and eighth man in the box.

Sources say that Rapp has some limitations in pass coverage. While he is not a throwaway in coverage, he does not have good range downfield and should not play deep consistently. He could function for a play or two, but he could be a liability downfield in deep coverage due to his range limitations if he is asked to play there a lot. He has some tightness in the lower leg and is not a safety who can contribute in man coverage. Thus, Rapp is more of a strong safety, although some evaluators debate that.

In speaking to sources at five teams, they thought that Rapp would at worst be a second-round pick. A couple of teams had him graded as a late first-round, early second-round pick. Rapp impressed evaluators with not only his play but also his makeup.

“I think he’ll go higher second, and possibly late one because he is so clean and a top character guy,” said one NFC general manager. “He is one of the hardest working and smart players in the draft. Yes, he has some limited tools, but some team teams prefer safe picks in that range.”

With talent in front of him, I think Rapp could exceed his skill set thanks to his character and work ethic. He has the potential to be a boom pick for Los Angeles.

2018: Micah Kiser, LB
2017: Gerald Everett, TE
2016: Mike Thomas, WR
2015: Todd Gurley, RB
2014: Greg Robinson, OT
2013: Tavon Austin, WR

Future Depth Player

Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis – Round 3
Henderson is obviously relegated to a backup role after being drafted by Los Angeles. While he could have contended to be a starter with other teams, Henderson is locked in as the No. 2 back due to Todd Gurley leading the Rams’ offense. Gurley is the top running back in the NFL and signed to a long-term contract. While Henderson is slotted as a backup, he should be a good rotational back to help keep Gurley fresh and contribute as a runner or receiver. Henderson is short but thickly put together with some real quickness. He could be a very good No. 2 back in the NFL and should provide good depth for Los Angeles.

2018: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB
2017: Josh Reynolds, WR
2016: Josh Forrest, LB
2015: Sean Mannion, QB
2014: E.J. Gaines, CB
2013: Zac Stacy, RB

Walt’s 2019 NFL Draft Grades:

61. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington A Grade
The Rams finally made a pick! Taylor Rapp was once expected to be chosen late in the first round, but a poor combine performance and an injury – the two may have been connected – dropped him into the second frame. With that in mind, I think the Rams are getting good value with Rapp, and I love that they traded down so many times. Rapp will be a nice successor for Eric Weddle in a year or two.

70. Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis B+ Grade
I had Darrell Henderson going to the Rams with their first pick in the third round, so I like the range for him. This is exactly where Henderson should have gone. He’s not an every-down ball-carrier in the slightest, but he’s an explosive play-maker who will be a nice insurance policy for Todd Gurley and his troublesome knees.

79. David Long, CB, Michigan B+ Grade
The Rams had to address cornerback after struggling with the position last year. David Long is a cornerback with great awareness, but struggled with penalties at Michigan. Still, he fills a need and the range as a mid-third-round prospect. This is a solid choice all around.

97. Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma C- Grade
This seems like a reach to me. I had Bobby Evans projected as a fifth-round pick, mocking him at No. 171 overall. Evans is strong, but happens to be a raw blocker without much upside. The Rams needed offensive line help, but they could have done better than this.

134. Greg Gaines, DT, Washington B+ Grade
Greg Gaines offers little upside with sub-par testing numbers, but he played better than the analytics indicate. Gaines is a tough, hustling defensive tackle with a great motor. He should be a solid rotational defensive lineman for the Rams moving forward. This is a solid choice.

169. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin C Grade
David Edwards was a human turnstile for the Badgers this past season. He was once considered a second-round prospect by some, but the tape crushed his draft stock, and rightfully so. I actually think this is still a bit too high for him.

203. Marcus Green, WR, Louisiana-Monroe B Grade
I didn’t have Marcus Green as a draftable prospect, but we’re past pick No. 200 and are heading toward the end of Round 6, so that’s not such a huge deal anymore. Still, there’s some good value still available, so the Rams could have done better with this choice.

243. Nick Scott, S, Penn State B Grade
Nick Scott’s amazing pro day probably got him drafted. Scott showed the potential with some stellar testing numbers, so I can see why the Rams are taking a flier on him. They need a safety for the future, so perhaps they’ll be able to develop the undersized Scott over the next couple of years.

251. Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech D Grade
I can’t really get behind this pick. Dakota Allen is a mediocre athlete with very little upside. Even worse, he was charged with burglary where he broke into a house, stole some guns and then sold them. This seems like a wasted selection.

2019 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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