As we head into what would usually be the “2021 NFL Mock Draft Season”, it currently looks a lot different than previous NFL off-seasons. Around this time, players would be training to attend the NFL combine in Indianapolis, one that in 2021 has been canceled for health and safety reasons related to the ongoing pandemic. This changes a lot, but for who? For the healthy and top available players, it is simply one less hoop to jump through. For the prospects with more to prove, however, this is a huge opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities that has now been squashed.
Also, it is a polarizing event for the players who are in need of medical re-checks. They will now be medically checked at another point in the draft process. That isn’t guaranteed to be late, however, for a player who needs extra time to recover. It also does not guarantee an earlier re-check, which would benefit players who are making a quicker recovery than expected.
So, who does this change in scheduling affect? Well, for one, the fans. They have tuned in every year since its television inception and the popularity has only grown over the years. Checking in to the combine while the speed positions are running, just to see if anyone will break, first Chris Johnson and now John Ross‘ 40-yard-dash record, has been a yearly occurrence for every football fan.
For Rams fans, however, the combine and day one of the previous four drafts have not been anything to see. When your team isn’t picking until the second round, you don’t have much to watch for on day one of the draft and the combine becomes jumbled as you really don’t know who your team will be targeting beyond the first round. This year is no different, as the Rams have no first-round pick yet again and there is no combine to be seen anyways. Therefore, a 2021 NFL mock draft for the LA Rams should be a fun exercise….right?
LA Rams 2021 NFL Mock Draft
2.57 | Ben Cleveland | OG | Georgia
First up on our LA Rams 2021 NFL mock draft is a big boy. As mentioned in the previous article about the LA Rams team needs heading into this off-season, adjusting the offensive line to Matthew Stafford will be priority number one. Cleveland has shown to be one of the better pass protecting guards in this class and is a mammoth of a man. At 6’6″ and weighing 350 pounds, Cleveland is your definition of a “Power Blocker”.
Yes, we all know that the Rams like to get their runs set up to the outside. But, despite being a bigger fellow, Cleveland has shown no issues with going out and moving guys in space. An injury at the Senior Bowl may drop Cleveland’s stock slightly enough to where he is available here.
3 (Comp) | Rashad Weaver | EDGE | Pittsburgh
With Leonard Floyd and Samson Ebukam looking like goners in free agency, the second pick of our LA Rams 2021 NFL mock draft is to find their replacements. Terrell Lewis and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo showed well in spurts in 2021, but not enough to where the Rams don’t need to bring in competition. In fact, another reclamation project ala Floyd and Dante Fowler could be on the way. That is for another day, though; for now, let’s focus on the draft.
At 6’4″ and weighing 270 pounds, Weaver certainly looks like the first person you want coming “off the bus” when you arrive at the stadium. Having towering and physical edge rushers like Lewis and Weaver would be a nightmare for the NFC West quarterbacks. Weaver may slip in the draft because did miss one season (2019) due to injury.
3 (Comp) | Tony Fields | ILB | West Virginia
Fields is a rangy, speedy inside backer who can cover. Sound familiar? If it does, it is because Fields sounds a lot like Travin Howard. When Howard was lost for the year in 2020, and then Micah Kiser went down, the Rams were forced to play Kenny Young and Troy Reeder more than they wanted to.
Bringing in a linebacker like Fields will allow the Rams to become even more multiple than they already are. It is nitpicking to think that the Rams can get better on defense, but this is one of the positions where it is possible. Speed is dominating the NFL today, and Tampa Bay just rode the speed of their linebackers to a Super Bowl win. Hopefully, the Rams can jump on board here and finally take an off-ball linebacker in the first two days.
LA Rams 2021 NFL Mock Draft
4 (Comp) | Israel Mukuamu | CB | South Carolina
With the fourth pick in our LA Rams 2021 NFL mock draft, Los Angeles heads over to the South Carolina Gamecocks football program. This time, they take an extremely long and wiry cornerback who profiles as extremely scheme versatile. The Rams are set to lose Troy Hill in free agency and based on the snap counts of David Long Jr, the Rams do not seem to be sold on their third cornerback.
His large size allows for him to “play up” on the receiver and he can play cover three and cover two aspects very well. With the way the Rams move around their secondary in order to get tacklers to the ball (something new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris says he will not stop doing), then a corner like this who can get his face dirty is the perfect fit. Most fans are looking for a slot corner, but I expect those duties to be split up between Jalen Ramsey, Jordan Fuller, and a hopefully healthy Terrell Burgess.
6.184 | Landon Young | OT | Kentucky
This pick is not just insurance against an injury to Andrew Whitworth or Rob Havenstein, but Young could theoretically end up being a starter even without an injury. The most likely scenario sees the Rams bringing Whitworth back on a team-friendly deal and also having Havenstein return to be his bookend. That could change, however, if Whit decides to hang up his cleats, and/or if the Rams feel that dealing Havenstein away is in their best interests.
After rebounding from a junior-year knee injury, Young had 64 knockdowns on one of the best and well-coached offensive lines in the country. He is a big, “country strong” type of player, with athletic limitations. The Rams have had no problems turning those guys (Havenstein, David Edwards, etc.) into great zone and stretch run blockers.
7.216 | Jaelon Darden | WR | North Texas
With the last pick in our LA Rams 2021 NFL mock draft, the team gets some much-needed speed. After the injury to Brandin Cooks in 2019, the Rams took the deep-ball away from Jared Goff. Not only did they do that, but they got rid of Cooks altogether, and brought in another possession type receiver in Van Jefferson. It was almost as if the Rams were saying to Jared “prove that you can win with underneath guys before we commit to another deep threat”. It was a bold move, that worked out for no one except maybe Matthew Stafford.
As Stafford enters his time with the Rams, he will be given a speed-threat that Goff was denied just one year previous. Darden is described as a “Jitter-Bug” type of player that can make people miss. With the Rams’ ability to get their players the ball on jet-sweeps, bubble screens and shovel passes, Darden seems like the perfect fit. Possibly the “shiftiest” player in college football, Darden may not be the “lid-lifter” that the Rams want in order to clear space for Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, that type of player can be found in the second wave of free agency.