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As draft nears, Rams still in need of help at tight end

The NFL draft begins April 28 and the Los Angeles Rams hold five picks. For the next week and a half, we'll take a look at a different position every day with what the Rams have in place, what they need and when they might address it.

We continue the countdown with a look at this year's crop of tight ends.

In place: Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey, Justice Cunningham.

What's needed: The Rams released Jared Cook in March after a disappointing return on investment in the three years since they signed him to a lucrative five-year deal. Although Cook never produced the results the Rams hoped for, he was still the team's most productive pass-catching tight end. Cook's departure left just Kendricks, Harkey and Cunningham on the roster. Harkey and Cunningham are considered blocking specialists and can help most in the run game. Kendricks is more well-rounded but has been up and down in the receiving game. That trio combined for just 30 catches, 271 yards and two touchdowns in 2015. The Rams explored free-agent options this offseason, taking long looks at Zach Miller and Marcedes Lewis before those players re-signed with Chicago and Jacksonville, respectively. Now the Rams enter the draft in need of help at the position. Assuming they follow through with taking a quarterback No. 1 overall, that leaves the Rams with two fourth-round and two sixth-round choices to find that help. Although this draft isn't terribly deep at tight end, it does appear that the fourth round could be a sweet spot for a run on tight ends. The top tight ends in this year's draft include Arkansas' Hunter Henry, Stanford's Austin Hooper, tight end Nick Vannett, South Carolina's Jerell Adams and Western Kentucky's Tyler Higbee.

Verdict: At some point -- whether in the draft, after it's over or both -- the Rams must add a tight end, and probably more than one. Since Jeff Fisher has been the coach, we've seen the Rams carry as many as five and as few as three tight ends, but they'll need to have more than just three on the roster during training camp and the preseason. While the Rams seem to be OK in terms of blocking tight ends, they need someone with the ability to make a difference in the passing game. Given what little draft capital they have after the first pick, they're unlikely to find a well-rounded tight end who can block and catch passes equally well. The best bet would be to use a pick on someone who shows the ability to make plays in the passing game and then turn to undrafted free agency to find more help, as they did with Harkey and Cunningham.