2018 NFL Draft Reset: Busy Rams short on linebackers

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The Los Angeles Rams did an outstanding job filling needs through trade and free agency, and were willing to surrender their first-round pick in the process to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks, next year’s second-round pick to get cornerback Marcus Peters and a mid-range pick this year to reel in cornerback Aqib Talib. The belief is their window is wide open and now operating in Los Angeles makes them a destination point for free agents and trade targets. Peters and Talib both fit that bill, as both welcomed their move to the bright lights of L.A.

The subsequent moves for Cooks and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were also the result of players lured to the second-biggest market in the country and a chance to play for a winning team. And that represents a major change from the Rams time in St. Louis, which struggled as a destination for top players.

Nevertheless, holes remain at outside linebacker, where Robert Quinn was traded and Connor Barwin is likely to leave via free agency is a absolute need; inside linebacker after Alec Ogletree, who wasn’t a great fit in the 3-4 and who was slated to make too much money, was traded and long-term replacements at left tackle and center.

So, while the Rams did an excellent job taking advantage of their newfound status in a destination city to address cornerback, wide receiver and defensive line, they will head to the draft knowing they need to figure out their inside and outside linebacker needs.

They have done an excellent in narrowing their needs, but there is work to be done on defense and along the offensive line. And they are focused on the draft to address those needs.

Here is a closer look at where the Rams are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft.

THE BREAKDOWN

2017 finish: 1st NFC West (11-5)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 361.5 (10th)

RUSHING: 122.1 (8th)

PASSING: 239.4 (10th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 339.6 (19th)

RUSHING: 122.4 (28th)

PASSING: 217.2 (13th)

TEAM NEEDS

  1. Outside linebacker: Robert Quinn was traded and Connor Barwin remains unsigned as a free agent. While second-year manSamson Ebukam is slotted at one spot, the Rams desperately need someone else on the other side.
  1. Inside linebacker: Alec Ogletree was traded away, creating a huge need alongside Mark Barron. The Rams believe there are quality options in the later rounds.

3: Tight end: Head coach Sean McVay’s offense works best with a dynamic two-tight end set. The Rams are still trying to get that dynamic figured out.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

–DT Dominique Easley: UFA; $1.85M/1 yr, $50G guaranteed. Possible $1M per-game (46-man) RBs.

–LS Jake McQuaide: Potential UFA; $3.525M/3 yrs, $1.2M fully guaranteed.

–CB Nickell Robey-Coleman: Potential UFA; $15.75M/3 yrs, $8M guaranteed.

–C John Sullivan: UFA; $10.5M/2 yrs, $3.25M guaranteed/$2M SB.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

-_WR Brandin Cooks (trade Patriots).

–CB Marcus Peters (trade Chiefs).

–CB Sam Shields: FA; $1.005M/1 yr, $90K SB.

–DL Ndamukong Suh: FA Dolphins; $14M/1 yr.

–CB Aqib Talib (trade Broncos)

–LB Ramik Wilson: Not tendered as RFA by Chiefs; $705K/1 yr.

PLAYERS LOST

–TE Derek Carrier: UFA Raiders; $5.55M/3 yrs, $1.9M fully guaranteed/$750K RB.

–S Cody Davis: UFA Jaguars; $5M/2 yrs, $2.5M fully guaranteed/$1M SB.

–RB Lance Dunbar (released).

–CB Trumaine Johnson: UFA Jets; $72.5M/5 yrs, $45M guaranteed ($11M injury only at signing, $20M SB).

–LB Alec Ogletree (traded Giants).

–LB Robert Quinn (traded Dolphins).

–WR Sammy Watkins: UFA Chiefs; $48M/3 yrs, $30M fully guaranteed/$21M SB.

–CB Kayvon Webster (released/failed physical).

*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 87 overall)

Rob Rang (April 5 mock draft):

–Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State.

Dane Brugler (April 6 mock draft):

–Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State

Todd Gurley is the face of the Rams’ offense, but Hines would add another dimension with his position flexibility in the backfield and slot, utilizing his pass-catching skills.

Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see full mocks and ratings at NFLDraftScout.com.

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