The Los Angeles Rams 2021 draft is now in the books and while their post-draft grades are getting mixed reviews at best, their mission was unarguably accomplished. Sean McVay didn’t set out to please the masses wanting bragging rights on social media or make NFL analysts shine. His goal was to maximize the team’s scoring opportunities to the fullest. We breakdown what took place in the Los Angeles Rams 2021 NFL Draft review:
- Second round, 57th overall: Tutu Atwell, wide receiver, Louisville
- Third round, 103rd overall (compensatory pick): Ernest Jones, linebacker, South Carolina
- Fourth round, 117th overall: Bobby Brown III, defensive tackle, Texas A&M
- Fourth round, 130th overall (from Jacksonville): Robert Rochell, cornerback, Central Arkansas
- Fourth round, 141st overall (compensatory pick): Jacob Harris, tight end, UCF
- Fifth round, 174th overall (from Houston): Earnest Brown IV, defensive end, Northwestern
- Seventh round, 233rd overall (from Houston): Jake Funk, running back, Maryland
- Seventh round, 249th overall (from Jacksonville): Ben Skowronek, wide receiver, Notre Dame
- Seventh round, 252nd overall: Chris Garrett, outside linebacker, Concordia-St. Paul
Los Angeles Rams Draft Grade: 6.5 out of 10
Los Angeles Rams 2021 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Bobby Brown III
Described bluntly by PFF as “long, strong and big,” Bobby Brown III will no doubt enter the NFL as an imposing force. On the Rams, Brown should work his way into significant playing time given that both Michael Brockers and Morgan Fox were allowed to leave. But he has to work. There is plenty of upside for his defensive coaches to work with, as he too often plays undisciplined. Still, given that he’s already expressed the desire to learn from and listen to anything Aaron Donald instructs, he should be fine.
Brown led the Texas A&M Aggies in sacks his last season with 5.5 sacks. He also had career highs in total quarterback pressures and defensive stops. He describes himself as “disruptive. Period. Point blank.” At 6’4”, 321 pounds, he is certainly disruptive. What’s more, his fans are super-excited behind the idea of him not getting triple and quadruple-teamed anymore.
The Head-Scratcher: Tutu Atwell
The choice of selecting a wide receiver with their first pick ruffled a few professional feathers and shocked many Rams fans. Not here, we predict it. However, with many other talents available, this came in as a head-scratcher.
Tutu Atwell is one of if not the smallest receiver drafted. He’s got speed in excess to burn, for sure. This means very little if he can’t be on the field as a wideout for large chunks of games. At the 57th pick, this has to be the intention. Looking at him, there were better fitting prospects to spell DeSean Jackson. Which begs a different concern entirely. Atwell is obviously dangerous, especially in the open field, but appears more suited for slot duty. Both Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are as solid as a team can have in the slot. Did they waste their first pick on a kick-off and punt-returner only? Can he handle the more physical defensive backs of the NFL on the outside? How many reps does this take away from Woods or Kupp? Yes, this is cause for concern.
The Surprise: Not drafting one offensive lineman. Period.
The 2021 offensive linemen class, specifically at center, was not the strongest when the Rams were selecting. Nonetheless, depth is depth. Offensive tackle Brady Christiensen out of BYU was taken at the 70th spot and a well-regarded Quinn Meinerz at 98th. At 114, Stanford center Drew Dalman and quite a few with at least backup ability were available.
In explaining the reasoning post-draft, McVay expressed confidence in the experience of the 11-player unit currently on the roster. More confidence in Brian Allen than most appear to have given his struggles. Coleman Shelton is also on the depth chart and guard Austin Corbett is said to be flexible enough to move inside and excel should it come to that. Additionally, the Rams are set to bring on undrafted free agents Jordan Meredith (Western Kentucky) and Alaric Jackson (Iowa).
The Steal: Jake Funk might also steal hearts along the way.
The Rams proceed to draft running back Jake Funk with one of two seventh-round picks and suddenly new hope springs eternal. Keep in mind, the team will play and appear considerably quicker and faster than last season. And if you remember the St. Louis Rams team that first lost to the New England Patriots (however you think they lost), the team was a bit soft. So soft, in fact in their play that the Bill Belichick/Patriot “take what they give you” way we all know today may have first been exposed. Meaning, with overall team speed, comes to a sacrifice in strength all too often.
Jake Funk is both quick and strong. Quicker than Malcolm Brown, in fact. He also has moves that are (please forgive this) quite funky. If the Rams use Funk right, he may be an upgrade. Furthermore, if he earns playing time he should get it even if Darrell Henderson’s numbers. One might say that Funk may turn out to be the X-factor in the NFC West in the end. The Seattle Seahawks certainly upgraded offensively adding a third stud receiver. But as of now, no team comes close to the offensive firepower the Rams may possess at the core. Funk in the mix may allow the Los Angeles Rams the ability to not let up for a minute in a game. He only needs to stay healthy to be the hidden gem all indications point to.
Most Likely to Turn Heads During Training Camp: Robert Rochell and Jacob Harris
Robert Rochell says he models his game after Rams superstar corner Jalen Ramsey. Whether he succeeds at it or not remains to be seen, though one can see the upside. It is obvious when you see him on tape you can’t help but see next-level improvement dying to breakout.
Rochell may be aiming at Ramsey’s skillset but mentioned in comparison to cornerback Marcus Peters. An aggressive ballhawk, he also mirrors good receivers well. He shows absolute fearlessness to challenge at the high point of passes due to his 43-inch jumping ability. His instincts might already be better than a number of veteran NFL cornerbacks. 4.39 speed with 6’1” height will definitely aid in the cracking of the starting line-up in his rookie season. A powerhouse university probably gets this kid discussed as an early to mid-second round. The Central Arkansas path keeps him on the down-low a little longer.
Run a Sharpie through the “WR” listing next to the player drafted 141st by the Rams, Jacob Harris out of UCF is an NFL tight end. McVay has now drafted three tight ends in his five NFL drafts and has invited an overkill number of additional tight ends to camps annually. One might get the feeling he’s been searching for his very own Jordan Reed, the ex-Washington Football Team superstar, and fantasy football dream. He might have found just that in Harris. At a freakish 6’5”, 81 1/4” wingspan, 4.39 speed, 4.28 20-yard shuttle drill, and jumping 40.5” vertical, Harris solidifies the most offensively talented squad McVay has had at any point in his coaching career.
The Rest of the Rams Draft
Rams second selection, middle linebacker Ernest Jones is a sure-tackling thumper in the middle and against the run. The in-house comparison is to teammate Micah Kiser who also struggles in pass coverage. This falls in line with the Rams infatuation with high character players. After all, Jones is one of the best locker room leaders in the draft.
Another Earnest (spelled different): Earnest Brown IV, like most on the defensive linemen squad not named Aaron Donald or Leonard Floyd, doesn’t have the speed needed mostly to be considered a sack master but uses his hands well. In his final season at Northwestern, he recorded 32 tackles, 8 tackles for loss but just one sack. At the next level, he’ll need more strength.
Ben Skowronek, a 6’3″, 220lb receiver from Notre Dame by way of Northwestern originally. He showed vast improvement this past season and received a Senior Bowl invite. He’s a good blocker and the Rams can spot-use him inside or as an additional tight end. However, with the competition here, he should best fit in on special teams, the physical player that he is.
The Rams added another linebacker with the final draft pick. A 6’4″, 245lb outside linebacker who ranks second in NSIC history with 36.5 sacks. Chris Garett set an NCAA Division II record for career forced fumbles (15), a stat I’m very fond of in defensive player fantasy football leagues. A First-Team Division II football All-American by way of the Associated Press (2018, 2019).
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