In what was an incredibly entertaining first round that saw the comedic draft strategy of the New York Giants drafting Daniel Jones in the top 10, following up by selecting nose tackle Dexter Lawrence from Clemson at pick 17, after trading away Damon “Snacks” Harrison last season (who is the best nose guard in the league, for only a fifth round selection in compensation), the Rams stood patient eventually ending up trading their 31st overall selection to the Atlanta Falcons for picks 45 and 79.
Now, attention moves to Day Two for the Rams, who have four selections total for the day. With plenty of talent on the board, let’s focus on five potential targets the Rams should consider on Day Two.
Who fits the needs best? Can any of them make early contributions? Let’s decipher the board more closely.
Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida
The meteoric fall of Florida edge Jachai Polite made its first stop into Day Two after not hearing his name in the first round. An uber talented pass rusher, Polite put out some of the very best tape of any edge defender in the 2019 NFL Draft class last season.
Unfortunately for Polite, he proceeded to have perhaps the worst pre-draft process of anyone as well. Following tough Combine and Pro Day performances, with some terrible reported team interviews, this had led us to this point. While Polite may still be a slight risk on Day Two, the Rams can afford to gamble one of their four selections for the high upside pass rusher.
Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
After a Day One slide that saw Risner not hear his name, he stands as one of the safer bets of all Day Two prospects. With the ability to play offensive guard, center, and right tackle, Risner presents a versatile chess piece for an NFL team in desperate need of offensive line help. Enter in the Los Angeles Rams who are set to have two new starters at both left guard and center following Roger Saffold and John Sullivan’s departures this offseason.
Whichever spot Risner settles into, he would have a great shot to start from day one. The only question, however, is, will Risner be available at 45? It’s a long shot but a guy can dream.
Chase Winovich, Edge, Michigan
After seeing his fellow Michigan teammate Rashan Gary selected at pick 12 to the Green Bay Packers, Chase Winovich is still waiting to hear his name called heading into Day Two. The productive pass rusher has had a rock solid offseason, turning heads at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Most evaluators saw an overachieving player on a talent stacked Wolverine defense.
With an endless motor and an underrated athletic profile, Winovich sits as one of the more attractive Day Two options among all players available. Winovich would provide immediate pass rush versatility for the Rams, who have been searching for more edge pressure this offseason.
With the recent signing of longtime Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews, Winovich would be afforded a proven veteran with a similar playing style and incredible long, blonde, flowing hair. The fit makes too much sense. Now let’s just hope he makes it to pick 45.
Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
After losing defensive linemen Ndamokung Suh this offseason (at least for now), the Rams are in need of a proven run stopper in the middle of their defense. With some dynamic players around in All Pro Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders presents a great option for the Rams at the other down lineman position.
Saunders, who was widely known early on as the big guy who does backflips, is a gifted athlete who dominated at the FCS level over the last couple seasons. A high upside player, Saunders possesses the prerequisite athletic profile to play up and down the defensive line. An easy fit as a nose tackle in the Rams odd front, Saunders has the ability to two gap and anchor from day one of his career.
Look for Saunders to potentially fill a huge void for the Rams and provide quality reps early on in his career.
Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota
Aptly named, Cashman has gone from a relative unknown to potential Day Two pick during this draft season. There was even some late first round buzz for a draft that has been starving for a linebacker behind Devin White (LSU) and Devin Bush (Michigan). Cashman followed what was a highly productive season with the Gophers with a 4.50 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. His performance in Indianapolis has NFL evaluators swarming to add the former walk-on with outstanding upside.
If the Rams hit the field today, the inside linebacker spot vacated by now Pittsburgh Steeler Mark Barron would most likely be manned by second year pro Micah Kiser. While Kiser projects some upside at the position, competition is never a bad thing. Cashman projects favorably as a future starter, and would push for immediate playing time in LA.
Day Two of the NFL Draft presents a ton of opportunity for teams. Every year perceived first round picks fall to the ladder stages of the second day. With several holes to fill on the Rams’ roster (linebacker, edge, offensive line), they would be wise to focus on bringing some of these big time fallers to the organization.