Prospects Rams fans should pay attention to at the NFL Combine
LA Rams GM Les Snead has been known for his “F them picks” mantra when it comes to the NFL Draft. That mantra has been credited to the Rams GM since the Rams haven’t had a first-round pick since the 2016 NFL Draft, the year when they traded up to select rookie QB Jared Goff with the first overall pick in that draft. That trend will continue this year as the Rams won’t be selecting until the 36th pick in the second round. However, there are some quality players in this draft who can come in and make a quick impact on the Rams.
Since veteran OLB Von Miller chose to sign with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent last offseason, the Rams have been in major need of a pass rusher opposite Leonard Floyd on the edge. While the team has gotten some surprising production out of former DT Michael Hoecht at the position, there are two rookies who are so impressive that I think can come in and help right away:
Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
Georgia Bulldog OLB Nolan Smith was a very crucial part of the historic 2021-22 Georgia Bulldogs season. He was eligible to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft, but he returned to Georgia for his final season of eligibility and tore his pec midway through this past season.
Smith is a versatile OLB as he was used in coverage at UGA and more than held his own. He’s an amazing run defender who despite being 235 lbs is very strong. He possesses excellent change of direction but my favorite part of his game is the fact he has excellent bend around the edge. He did only have nine sacks in his time at UGA but with Floyd there to mentor him and his athletic ability, I am confident he can produce decent sack numbers year in and year out.
BJ Ojulari, OLB, LSU
I’m sure many Rams fans have seen Ojulari mocked by the Rams and that’s why he should be watched heavily by anyone who supports the Rams and wants to know who could be joining the team in April. Ojulari possesses an array of pass-rushing moves and an elite first step.
While he’s not the athlete Smith is, Ojulari has enough speed to be able to run in pursuit and he has the ability to drop into coverage. He should be a great locker room guy as he was beloved at LSU. He will probably need to add more weight at the next level and he may not be long enough to win at the point of attack consistently against offensive linemen.
Ojulari could be a Day 1 starter for the LA Rams.
I think it would be smart for the Rams to target either of these players as both OLB Leonard Floyd and Dl Aaron Donald are getting up in years, Some say that they are possibly showing signs of regressing. If that is the case, they will need help if the Rams wish to have more success in rushing the passer than they did in 2022.