Round 3 Pick 104 (4)
With the 104th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, the LA Rams will have several quality edge rushers to choose from at that point. At this point in the draft, the Rams will surely be contemplating someone who could emerge as a plug-and-play rookie contributor in this defense. Is that too optimistic? I don’t think so. Talent runs deep in the 2022 Draft class at edge rushers. It’s simply being skilled enough to select the right player.
Option I – Edge rusher Sam Williams from the University of Mississippi is a 6-foot-4 261-pound outside linebacker who clearly has plenty of NFL Draft scouts and analysts excited over his NFL potential. Blessed with speed – 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and power – deadlifting 750 pounds. Because he is so athletic, he is incredibly versatile, offering NFL teams a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE, or both for those hybrid defensive fronts (Rams?).
Williams is incredibly athletic and could be overdrafted by a too eager NFL GM. If he falls to the Rams, he would be at a spot that offers true value. He is still raw and will need to be coached in areas of shedding blockers, setting the edge, and stuffing the run. But his ability to get low and twist in his rush is not unlike that of All-Pro OLB Von Miller.
Option II – Edge rusher Dominique Robinson from the University of Miami (Ohio) is relatively new to the world of playing pass rusher on defense. In fact, he was a receiver in his first two seasons. Could he be an NFL player who can play on both sides of the ball?
While he arrived late to the party, Robinson has quickly shown his ability to not only hold his own on the edge but to downright dominate some of the best offensive tackles entering the NFL in this draft. He is extremely athletic, but also extremely raw. However, do not mistake his less refined techniques as a lack of production. On the contrary, in just 15 college games, he put up 37 tackles, 11.0 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 quarterback sacks.
It’s that raw aspect that makes Robinson so difficult to project. The Rams have a very athletic second-year player in Chris Garrett. Will the defensive double down on that athleticism? Or will the team go in a different direction?
Option III – Edge rusher DeAngelo Malone from Western Kentucky was a defensive end in NCAA competition, but his 6-foot-3 height and 243-pound weight make him far more suitable as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. And of course, that will mean a bit more time as he learns the intricacies of defending the edge from a two-point stance, setting the edge, and of course, working pass defense in the flat.
That will likely deflate his attractiveness to NFL teams to a Day 3 selection, I’ve kept him as a Round 3 prospect out of respect for his college production. He played 61 games, recording 349 tackles, 59.0 tackles for a loss, 32.5 quarterback sacks, and even deflected seven passes and picked off a pass.
He is a true semi-contortionist coming off the edge, twisting and pivoting his body to optimize his pass rush angle while limiting the surface he offers to an offensive lineman. He is also far more powerful than his dimensions indicate. I really like Malone on the Rams roster. From what I’ve seen, he seems to give his all on each play and has fun while doing so.
Option IV – Edge Rusher Christopher Allen from the University of Alabama is one of the prospects in this draft class who show up huge on the football field when healthy. But keeping him healthy enough to play has been a challenge. He lost all of the 2018 season due to a knee injury. In 2021, he lost the season due to a foot injury after just 3 tackles and a strip-sack in the season opener.
Allen has played in 19 games and recorded 54 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 quarterback sacks. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs a solid 242-pounds, just what you want from an NFL outside linebacker. Unlike some other prospects discussed so far, Allen is a rookie prospect who is truly a plug-and-play candidate.
He has above-average coverage skills, a huge plus for the Rams as that would allow the team to send Leonard Floyd after the quarterback. He also has that Von Miller type of pass rush where he works upfield to a point that parallels the quarterback then pivots and rushes directly at the quarterback from the side, containing even the most mobile quarterbacks.
While he could fall due to medical flags, Allen is one of the more polished edge rushers in this draft class. Will he stay healthy? That’s the big question.
Let’s see who the LA Rams may select in the fourth round?