Meeting VII: QB Aidan O'Connell - March 9, 2023
There has been a great of speculation over the LA Rams interest in adding a new backup quarterback during the 2023 NFL Draft, and it simply makes sense. The LA Rams will need competent quarterback play behind veteran Matthew Stafford, and while the 2023 NFL Draft top hurlers will be off the board long before the LA Rams pick, there will be plenty of talent to choose from.
Purdue QB Aiden O'Connell has been linked to both the LA Rams and Las Vegas Raiders in a recent Pro Football Network article by Tony Pauline. In his article, Pauline states that O'Connell hit on 47 of 50 passes, the three incompletions were drops by the WR. and shares that O'Connell met with the Las Vegas Raiders, the Detroit Lions, and the LA Rams.
O'Connell stands 6-foot-3 and weighs a solid 213 pounds. He is a pure pocket passer, a quarterback whose mobility is not a characteristic that attracts NFL scouts to his performances. He was the heavy lifter for the Purdue Boilermakers offense, and as a result he was counted on to supply much of the offense.
He has a quick release, and he can move in the pocket well enough to extend plays. He understands that incompletions are better than sacks, and acts accordingly. While his accuracy on deep throws needs work, he has a good foundation to work with, and could be a successful backup quarterback on the LA Rams roster.
Meeting VIII: TE Payne Durham - March 10, 2023
Some thoughts about the LA Rams draft class for 2023 have insisted that the Rams need to strengthen the roster at the tight end position. The trouble is that the Rams simply have too few Top-100 picks to land day one starters at outside linebacker, cornerback, safety, offensive tackle, offensive center, and tight end.
The truth is that the Rams will simply need to address some position depth with Day 3 picks, and Purdue TE Payne Durham is a great compromise of a rookie prospect who can deliver at the NFL level, but who is expected to be available in the later rounds on Day 3 when the Rams are likely to make the majority of picks.
Durham is a big bodied tight end, standing 6-foot 6 and weighing a powerful 253 pounds. He is touted for his blocking ability, either at the point of contact from the line of scrimmage to blocking on the move. However, in the same breath, he is cited as needing to perfect his run blocking to match his size.
While some may not be overly excited about the potential of Payne Durham on the Rams roster, I see fit and complementary skills. He is a solid route runner who can slip past defenders unencumbered to get to his spot as the ball comes out. When he fills a blocking role, he seeks out and blocks multiple defenders whenever and wherever they cross his path. While he may be targeted for his blocking ability, he has plenty of pass-catching production as well.
Meeting IX: K BT Potter - March 14, 2023
It was pretty clear that the LA Rams resigned themselves to losing Pro Bowl placekicker Matt Gay to the NFL Free Agency market, as the very next day the Rams were holding conversations with Clemon placekicker BT Potter. The Ram,s joined four other teams in conversations with Potter. Curiously, I projectd Potter as a Priority FA signing after the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Rams' ability to depend on a rookie placekicker is not exactly something that the team has a good track record with. The LA Rams drafted kicker Sam Sloman in 2020 and eventually gave him their starting kicker role. But Sloman was neither blessed with a powerful leg nor with exceptional accuracy. But that is how it goes as a rookie placekicker.
BT Potter has some pluses and some minuses. On the positive side, this young man has only missed one extra point attempt in four years at Clemson as their kicker. That's 234 made out of 235 attempts, which is phenomenal. As for his kickoffs, he averages 68.5 touchbacks per season, which is incredible.
On the minuses, Potter's career FG accuracy is 75.3 percent. While that is not far off the mark from the top-rated rookie kicker, Missouri Harrison Mevis, at 84.9 percent, his accuracy peaked at 80.8 percent in 2021, before falling back to 76.9 percent in 2022. Potter does have power, drilling from 50+ yards seven times, and from 40+ yards 19 times. If the Rams can sign an inexpensive veteran for competition, I could see the team taking a chance on a rookie kicker like BT Potter too.