Top 10 sleepers for LA Rams heading into 2023 NFL Draft
By Bret Stuter
Sleeper X: Jaxson Kirkland, Offensive Tackle, Washington
While you may or may not be excited over the thought of the LA Rams drafting Washington Huskies offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland, let me be very clear. No offensive lineman is happier to block on the offensive line than Jaxson Kirkland is. He is the son of the former University of Washington offensive lineman Dean Kirkland, and he has a true passion for what he does, playing offensive line.
What I don't like about him: A legacy offensive lineman whose progress seemed to be slower than you might think. He's still a bit raw in terms of blocking downhill and getting to the second and third tiers on running plays. He was a plug-and-play offensive lineman, which indicates a player who is not the Alpha beast at blocking, so he moves to plug the holes that the team needs to be shored up at any given time.
What I do like about him: There is a great deal to love about this young man, particularly in the setting of the LA Rams and the 'shoot for 2024,' objective that seems to be the ultimate plan. This young man is one of the best pass blockers in the 2023 NFL Draft (words of one draft analyst) and I believe that is a fair statement. He is incredibly versatile, having played extensively at both offensive guard positions as well as at left tackle. He is incredibly versed in the subtle nuances of the game of football and of the positions on the offensive line.
He is a sleeper in this draft because he has been hampered by injuries in three of five collegiate football seasons, and he needs to get to the weight room to seal off his NFL career with a bit more muscular manhandling type of pop as he comes out of his stance. That is all fixable and doable. Kirkland is a 6-fooot-7 321-pound behemoth who loves to block. In the end, do what you love. And if the LA Rams can give him the chance to do so, that would be ideal.