Breaking down the Los Angeles Rams' 2018 draft class.
Round 3, No. 89 overall: Joe Noteboom, OT, TCU
My take: Noteboom, 6-foot-5 and 309 pounds, played right tackle as a sophomore in 2015, then switched to left tackle in 2016 and 2017, never once missing a game. He is athletic, but could stand to add more muscle in the NFL. He has good technique, but has also struggled with consistency. Noteboom ran a 4.92 40-yard dash, one of the fastest among offensive linemen. Rams coach Sean McVay noted Noteboom's "ability to get removal in the run game, but also to be able to just cover people up in protection. I watched the way that he can change angles; he understands those types of things."
How he fits: The Rams return all five starters from last season's offensive line, but they entered this draft with a need to build that next wave. Their left tackle, Andrew Whitworth, is 36 years old. Their right tackle, Robert Havenstein, can be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Noteboom visited the Rams' facility, met with them formally at the combine and was scouted by them closely at the Senior Bowl. Noteboom called this "the perfect spot" and said Whitworth is "a perfect guy to learn from."
"Joe's a lucky man," Rams general manager Les Snead said, noting that he can learn from Whitworth, Havenstein and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
Round 4, No. 111 overall: Brian Allen, C, Michigan State
My take: Allen, 6-foot-1 and 298 pounds, entered the draft with a “center only” designation, but said shortly after being drafted that he is just as comfortable at both guard spots as he is at center. Allen spent all of his time at center during his senior year in 2017, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. But he spent plenty of time at both guard spots in his previous three seasons. He was a champion wrestler in high school and is considered physical at the point of attack.
How he fits: Much like Noteboom, taken in Friday’s third round, Allen fits as part of that next wave of offensive linemen. On the Rams, Allen can learn from veteran interior linemen such as John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold. Allen said Sullivan is “someone I’ve always looked up to” and hopes he doesn’t “annoy him too much” with questions. Of the Rams’ 10 picks since 2017, eight have now played in the Senior Bowl, Allen included.
Round 4, No. 135 overall: John Franklin-Myers, DE, Stephen F. Austin
My take: It took a while, but the Rams finally acquired an edge rusher, their greatest need heading into the draft. Franklin-Myers spent his first three years as a stand-up defensive end, then switched to 3-technique amid a scheme change during his senior year. Franklin-Myers, 6-foot-4 and 283 pounds, compiled 28 tackles for loss as a junior and senior, getting named first-team All-Southland Conference in 2016 and second-team All-Southland Conference in 2017.
How he fits: The Rams see Franklin-Myers mostly as a 5-technique, a spot that is currently filled by starter Michael Brockers and backup Dominique Easley. As things stand, Franklin-Myers could compete for playing time in sub packages. He profiles best as a 3-4 defensive end and has some intriguing upside if he can improve his technique. His wingspan was more than 82 inches at the NFLPA game.
Round 5, No. 148 overall: Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
Prospect Profile: Micah Kiser
Linebacker Micah Kiser flashed top-end speed and solid tackling skills at Virginia.
My take: Kiser might be the most polished player the Rams have taken up to this point. He's coming off a very productive college career, compiling 33.5 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, 12 passes defended and eight forced fumbles in 37 games in the last three seasons at Virginia. He finished his senior year as a third-team All-America choice and first-team All-ACC.
How he fits: Kiser might have a chance to earn some playing time. The Rams have one solidified inside linebacker spot with Mark Barron, but the other, in base sets, is seemingly up for grabs, previously between Cory Littleton, Ramik Wilson and Bryce Hager. Kiser could be a good fit against the run, but his coverage skills have been called into question.
Round 5, No. 160 overall: Obo Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma
Prospect Profile: Obo Okoronkwo
Oklahoma's Obo Okoronkwo is considered one of the best ten OLB prospects and could be a late-round steal.
My take: Okoronkwo shared the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award with Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson in 2017 and was named second-team All-Big 12 in 2016. As a starter those two seasons, Okoronkwo compiled 29 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, five passes defended and five forced fumbles in 26 games. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 253 pounds, Okoronkwo doesn’t have the physical attributes of an elite edge rusher. However, he brings a good motor and aggression, according to NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.
How he fits: On the Rams, Okoronkwo is going to get to do what he does best -- rush the passer. The Rams are without their two starting outside linebackers from last season, with Robert Quinn dealt to the Miami Dolphins and Connor Barwin still unsigned as a free agent. Okoronkwo can compete for playing time along with Matt Longacre and Samson Ebukam. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could do wonders for his career. “That’s an edge rusher’s dream to play in L.A. right now,” Okoronkwo said.
Round 6, No. 176 overall: John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
Prospect Profile: John Kelly
Former Tennessee running back John Kelly has all of the tools to succeed in the NFL.
My take: Kelly was teammates with Alvin Kamara, who exploded onto the scene as a rookie third-round pick with the New Orleans Saints last season. Kamara’s absence prompted Kelly to take on more of a workload as a pass-catching running back, and he responded with 37 catches for 299 yards as a junior in 2017. He finished his collegiate career with 1,573 rushing yards on 327 attempts, an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
How he fits: Kelly seems to fit as a change-of-pace running back for Todd Gurley, a role the Rams were hoping would be occupied by Lance Dunbar last season. Kelly is listed at 5-foot-10 and 216 pounds. He is a bit undersized, but is considered a tough runner who can play all three downs if needed. Asked about his ability to serve as a pass-catching running back in the NFL, Kelly said: "I definitely feel like I'm ready for it."
Round 6, No. 192 overall: Jamil Demby, OT, Maine
My take: Demby, 6-foot-5 and 319 pounds, was a four-year starter at left tackle. He isn't an elite athlete, but he is considered a smart player with an ability to punch, move his feet and anchor in pass protection, according to NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.
How he fits: Demby is the third offensive lineman taken by the Rams in this draft, after Noteboom and Allen. The Rams may use him at guard, as insurance for Rodger Saffold and Jamon Brown, who can both be unrestricted free agents next offseason.
Round 6, No. 195 overall: Sebastian Joseph, DT, Rutgers
My take: Listed at 6-foot-4, 304 pounds, Joseph spent time as a 3-technique before moving to nose tackle. The redshirt senior is considered tough, athletic and quick. He can be a capable run defender, but there are questions about him as a pass-rusher.
How he fits: The Rams have a lot of talented interior linemen, starting with Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. Joseph can fit in behind them if they move Ethan Westbrooks back to defensive end. Joseph called joining the Rams "a dream come true" and said he meshed well with the coaching staff.
Round 6, No. 205 overall: Trevon Young, DE, Louisville
Prospect Profile: Trevon Young
Take a look at defensive standout Trevon Young during his time at Louisville.
My take: Young suffered a major hip injury during a 2015 bowl game that prompted him to miss the 2016 season. But he returned in 2017 and started 12 of 13 games, finishing with 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and five pass breakups. Listed at 6-foot-4, 258 pounds with 33 3/4-inch arms, Young has good length but needs more power at the point of attack.
How he fits: Young spent most of his time operating out of a three-point stance as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. On the Rams, Young is expected to add depth at outside linebacker, a position that is thin at the moment. "I'm a versatile player," Young said. "With practice, I'll be able to be just as effective coming out of a two-point stance, or whatever they ask me to do."
Round 7, No. 231 overall: Travin Howard, LB, TCU
My take: Howard is the first player in TCU history to lead his team in tackles three consecutive seasons. Howard was listed at 6-foot-1, 213 pounds on his collegiate page. That might sound small for his position, but Mark Barron, another converted safety, is of similar build. Howard was first-team All-Big 12 for a second straight year in 2017.
How he fits: Howard can come in and compete for playing time at inside linebacker, where one spot still appears open. Asked about his strengths, Howard said: "Speed, sideline to sideline, running to get the ball anywhere. Just pretty much a ball magnet."
Round 7, No. 244 overall: Justin Lawler, DE, SMU
My take: Lawler, listed at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, led his team with 15.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries during his senior season. He finished ranked sixth in the nation in sacks per game and was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference.
How he fits: Lawler said he ran a similar scheme to the one installed by Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. He operated as a defensive end with his hand in the dirt and also contributed on special teams, blocking three kicks in 2017. "They let me run free, run loose, similar to what the Rams do with their ends," Lawler said, "and we look forward to having the same success in L.A."