Rams catch a falling star makes sense for 3 prospects, not for 3 others

Les Snead, Los Angeles Rams
Les Snead, Los Angeles Rams / John McCoy/GettyImages
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Let this star fall

The reason that the name of Graham Barton, center, out of Duke University, appears on this list is that on the NFL.com 2024 NFL Draft Tracker, he shows up among the Top-20 NFL prospects of this rookie draft class. Had the Rams not already invested heavily into their interior offensive line this offseason, then Barton may have had a slim chance of hearing his name called by the team.

The intrinsic value of a very good center is typically no greater than Round 2. In the 2023 NFL Draft, the LA Rams were the first team to call out the name of any interior offensive lineman when they selected TCU's IOL Steve Avila with the 36th overall pick. So it's a pretty safe bet that a center in the 2024 NFL Draft will fall to the Rams at 19.

But the Rams have to let him pass them by.

After investing in three starters over the next three seasons, the interior offensive line is secured for all contingencies except injury and depth, and those needs are not found in Round 1 of the draft. We haven't talked about Graham Barton before because he is too good of a player at the wrong position for the Rams front office to call out his name. He stands 6-foot-5, weighs 313 pounds, and has incredible versatility to compete at all five offensive line positions. He is Mr. Consistency, showing incredible poise and form whether facing a young defender or one of the best in college football. He plays at the wrong position at the wrong time to matter to the LA Rams in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Catch this falling star

The outside linebacker positions is believed to get some attention in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft, and Laiatu Latu, an outside linebacker from UCLA has been mocked as coming off the draft board as early as the 9th overall pick, to falling as late as the 26th overall pick. But there are a lot of LA Rams fans who hopes that he falls to their spot at the 19th overall pick.

And yes, I am one of them.

While upgrading the overall team is advantageous to the chance of success, there is also a different force at work here. How much more can a wide receiver who gets targeted 80 times in 2024 upgrade the roster, over a guy who can play over 1000 defensive snaps and get after opposing quarterbacks on every pass play?

Even as NFL GMs make their final 'tweaks' to their 2024 NFL Draft big boards, each and every one knows that offense sells tickets, but defenses win championships. UCLA's Laiatu Latu could fall to the Rams based on medical concerns, but the team is satisfied that he can play and even start for them this season. Putting one more pass rusher in the trenches will do a great deal of good for a defense that needs to redefine itself after the retirement of DT Aaron Donald. Latu will help them write this new chapter.