How general manager Les Snead manages a roster loaded with so much talent and high-priced players is going to be fascinating to watch. Hitting on draft selections will be paramount as challenging decisions on who to pay and who to let walk will loom each year.
I think we should get accustomed to veteran players looking to make one final run at a Super Bowl Championship signing short-term deals with Los Angeles, much like Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews did the off season. And while those pickups will be helpful, keeping the roster full of promising young players will be critical for sustained success.
Let’s review Snead’s 2019 haul in totality:
Round 2, Pick 61: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Round 3, Pick 70: Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
Round 3, Pick 79: David Long, CB, Michigan
Round 3, Pick 97: Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick 134: Greg Gaines, iDL, Washington
Round 5, Pick 169: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
Round 7, Pick 243: Nicholas Scott, S, Penn State
Round 7, Pick 251: Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech
The Rams moved around the Draft order like crazy. In addition to the pre-existing trades involving draft picks with the Chiefs, Jaguars and Giants, the Rams executed 6 (SIX!) draft day trades.
I really like a lot of what the Rams where able to do with its class. Henderson was a much-needed choice after seeing how Todd Gurley’s inability to make an impact down the stretch affected the offense. I love Long as a potential starter in 2020 where current starters Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are both free agents after the season. Evans was one of my personal favorite offensive line prospects in the class and I think he can be the future at left tackle once Andrew Whitworth hangs it up. Gaines is a stout interior defender that can fill the nose tackle role in Wade Phillips’ defense. But if I had to make one change?
MY RAMS DRAFT MULLIGAN: S TAYLOR RAPP FOR VIRGINIA S JUAN THORNHILL
I like Rapp. My No. 70 overall prospect in the class, he was appropriate value at pick No. 61. I love his physicality and how quick his trigger is attacking downhill and running alleys. Rapp is an urgent pursuer of the football that does well to play off contact and consistently finish. He is one of the surest tacklers of any defender in the entire class.
My concerns with Rapp stem from inconsistency in coverage, which is something I value more in safeties than their ability to play forward against the run and quick game. Film study did not reveal to me a coverage safety with much confidence attacking the ball in the air and disrupting at the catch point. While he has some mirroring ability against tight ends in man coverage, I don’t see a viable deep zone defender with ideal range.
With seven safeties ranked inside my top-60 prospects, I really liked the crop of safeties the 2019 Draft offered. There where several I graded higher than Rapp but Thornhill is the guy that pops to me in terms of which one I would rather have.
A three-year starter at Virginia, Thornhill has experience starting at both safety and corner but thrived at safety for the Cavs as a senior. His blend of astute processing skills, physicality and the ability to make game-changing plays on the ball exceed those of Rapp and Thornhill is a far superior athlete. Thornhill was inside my top 25 overall prospects in the class.
There’s just more in Thornhill’s toolbox and the way he can impact football games is of greater value.