LA Rams Draft Big Board: Top 23 Edge rushers in 2022 draft class
Round 4 Pick 142 (4)
With the 142nd pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, the field begins to narrow a bit.
Option I – Edge rusher Isaiah Thomas from the University of Oklahoma is our first defensive end prospect, and thanks to his 6-foot-5 height and 266-pound weight, he will likely remain a defensive lineman in the NFL. That does not eliminate him from the LA Rams roster, but merely creates a bit of a different wrinkle in how the Rams defense could use his pass-rushing talents most effectively.
In 31 games, he put up 80 tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss, and 16.5 quarterback sacks. Because he projects as an NFL DE in either a 3-4 or 4-3 front, he will likely be hitting the weight room if the Rams select him. Thomas faced some off-field allegations which could hurt his draft stock, so while he has plenty of plusses on the football field, he could drop to later rounds.
Option II – Edge rusher Tyreke Smith from Ohio State University is another defensive end type edge rusher, which will likely mean packing more muscle onto his 6-foot-3 254-pound frame in his rookie season. Smith suffers from that ‘Brahma Bull’ physique that often accompanies draft prospects – strong and chiseled upper body but too little attention paid to the hips and down in the weight room. The result? A top-heavy player who can be ridden around the arc by a savvy blocker.
Smith has some gusto off the edge, playing 30 games and generating 55 tackles, 11.0 tackles for a loss, and 7.0 quarterback sacks. He has even deflected five passes in his college career, so a conversion to a 3-4 outside linebacker cannot be ruled out entirely. Some mock drafts have Smith off the board early in Round 3. I think he could be there in Round 4 for the Rams. I’d love to see him in Round 5, where I believe he has real value.
Option III – Edge rusher Drake Jackson from USC is a California native who certainly deserves serious consideration by the LA Rams to keep him in the state. But he is a bit raw, both physically and with his football techniques, and that could dissuade the Rams from adding one more project at outside linebacker so early in the draft.
Jackson is 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds, but could probably bulk up to 260 pounds through training camp. In 27 games for the Trojans, Jackson was able to record 103 tackles, 25.0 tackles for a loss, 12.5 quarterback sacks, and two interceptions. The fact of the matter is that he had a physical advantage to do so, and an advantage that he will net enjoy in the NFL.
Projected as early as Round 1, Jackson is a player who many analysts prefer to see as a 270-pound defensive end. If the LA Rams have a chance to select him, it will be due to the fact that NFL teams have gone elsewhere with uncertainty over Jackson’s playing weight.
Option IV – Edge rusher Myjai Sanders from Cincinnati is a player who has projected as a Round 2 all the way out to a Round 6. Which will it be? Well, for those teams that look for on-field production, it will likely be sooner than later. Sanders is a 6-foot-5, 228-pound edge rusher who played 42 games for the Bearcats. Over that time, he put up 119 tackles, 29.5 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 quarterback sacks. He even deflected 12 passes.
Athletically, he is incredibly gifted.
With all that said, he is still raw, and definitely has some things to work on. He needs to work on shedding blockers and showing stronger run defense, and some have noted that he jumps offsides too frequently. His Scouting Combine weight of 228-pounds was a concern, as it did not translate into greater speed but did impact his power. He will need to bulk up, be coached up, and show up in training camp. He has plenty of potential for a solid NFL career, but he will need some oversight to unleash it all.
Okay, so who may be available in the fifth round?