Los Angeles Rams
First-Round Pick: N/A
Best Pick: Round Five-Ogbonnia Okoronkwo-Defensive End/Outside Linebacker-Oklahoma
The first two rounds of the 2018 National Football League Draft saw the Los Angeles Rams be inactive which was the result of their off-season prior to the draft. The Rams made a bevy of moves to acquire veterans such as wide receiver Brandin Cooks which saw them part with their early selections. And although that the Rams weren’t active early, they were late as this team looks to add some more depth.
The Rams first selection didn’t come until the 89th overall pick which came towards the end of the third round. There the Rams would select former TCU Horned Frogs offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom. At 6’5″, 309 lbs., Noteboom has that prototypical size that you would expect for an offensive tackle in the NFL and in Los Angeles he’ll have the chance to learn from veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth who is one of the best in the business.
After selecting Noteboom, the Rams continued to focus on getting tougher in the trenches. In all the Rams used seven of their eleven selections in this draft on either the offensive or defensive line. And in spite of the fact that the Rams didn’t have any picks in the first two rounds, they did a good job off adding depth to their team.
In the fifth round, the Rams got their hands on one of the steals of the draft when they selected former Oklahoma Sooners defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Coming into the draft Okoronkwo was expected to be selected in either the first or second rounds. However Okoronkwo kept falling, and he may have ended up in the right spot for him.
At 6’1″, Okoronkwo is a smaller defensive end, but since Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips uses a 3-4 scheme which is blitz heavy, Okoronkwo will be able to showcase his pass rushing skills as a stand up edge rusher.
With the Rams expected to lose several players in free agency next year, it was important for them to begin the process of retooling their team which is what they accomplished with this draft.
First-Round Pick: Rashaad Penny-Running Back-San Diego State
Best Pick: Rashaad Penny
It’s no secret that the duo of general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have done things a little bit differently as they’ve worked together for the Seattle Seahawks. Schneider and Carroll have never been afraid to send a player packing via a trade, welcome a new player to their team through the trade route, or make head scratching moves during the National Football League Draft. There have been instances where the Seahawks will use a first-round pick on someone that most people feel should be drafted much later, while they also know how to obtain supreme value with their late round selections. And this philosophy was once again on display at this year’s version of the draft.
The Seahawks did some wheeling and dealing in the first round as they moved back after agreeing to a trade with the Green Bay Packers. And with the 27th overall selection, Seattle would select former San Diego State Aztecs running back Rashaad Penny. After Penny spent his first three years at San Diego State primarily serving as an understudy to the record-setting running back Ronnie Hillman, Penny got his chance to shine last year and he made the most of it. Penny rushed for 2,248 yards and averaged 7.8 yards per carry in the process to be named as the Mountain West Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. But with all of that Penny wasn’t expected to be selected until the third or fourth round. However the Seahawks thought enough of Penny to make him a first-round selection as he should immediately help their rushing attack which was 23rd in the NFL last season.
Seattle has parted with several key veterans on defense this off-season, and with a few others not expected to be with the team that much longer, Carroll and Schneider spent a good portion of the draft focusing on that side of the football. Two players to keep an eye on from this draft class with defensive end Rasheem Green who was taken in the third round and linebacker Shaquem Griffen who was selected in the fifth.
Griffen doesn’t have a left hand but that has not stopped him from making the NFL, and anyone who doubts that he can get it done should just look at the video of his collegiate career. In 2016, Griffen was named as the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year as he’ll tackle anything in sight. And if anybody doubts that Griffen is with the Seahawks just for the roster spot should think again.
It’s all about adding depth for the Seahawks which was their focus in this draft as the reshaping of the team’s roster will continue to be a work in progress.
First-Round Pick: Josh Rosen-Quarterback-UCLA
Best Pick: Josh Rosen
A new era has begun for the Arizona Cardinals with Steve Wilks becoming the team’s new head coach. Wilks and Cardinals general manager Steve Keim came into the National Football League Draft knowing that this franchise is all but starting over as they were seeking to find some building blocks.
I expected the Cards to draft a quarterback in the first round and to also move up in order to obtain him which is exactly what they did. Arizona moved up six slots in order to select former UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen. Rosen looks the part of an NFL quarterback as he is a cool and confident young man from Southern California. And at 6’4″, 218 lbs., Rosen is more athletic than most people give him credit for, while he possesses one of the better arms of all of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. Rosen has all of the intangibles needed to be a franchise quarterback, and if the Cardinals bring him along properly which includes putting a solid team around him, he could go on to have a solid professional career.
The Cards made it their business to put a solid team around Rosen through the draft which saw them draft the likes of wide receiver Christian Kirk. At Texas A&M, there weren’t too many defensive backs in the Southeastern Conference who were able to slow down Kirk as he did whatever he wanted to on the football field. And now in the NFL, Kirk will get to learn from one of the best to have ever done it at his position in Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cards also addressed needs on their offensive line which included adding former Michigan Wolverines center Mason Cole in the third round, and former Cincinnati Bearcats offensive tackle Korey Cunningham in the seventh round.
This will be one of those draft classes that won’t pay immediate dividends, but it’ll be a work in progress and we’ll see the finished product in three years.
San Francisco 49ers
First-Round Pick: Mike McGlinchey-Offensive Tackle-Texas
Best Pick: Mike McGlinchey
Since John Lynch became the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers last January, he has been all about reshaping the team’s roster. Last season the Niners acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots and since then it’s been all about putting a quality team around him.
The Niners used their first pick in this year’s National Football Draft to give Garoppolo some protection in front of him as they selected former Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. McGlinchey was arguably the best offensive tackle available in this year’s draft and he has what it takes to be anchor on the Niners offensive line for years to come. At 6’7″, 309 lbs., McGlinchey is a mountain of a man, and he doesn’t have that much fat on his body. McGlinchey was an All-American last season at Notre Dame, and once he gets his feet wet in the NFL, it won’t take that long before San Francisco will trust him by himself to go one-on-one against the opposing team’s top pass rusher.
Lynch continued to add more players around Garoppolo in the second round where he selected former Washington Huskies wide receiver Dante Pettis. Pettis was an All-American last year at Washington due to his pass catching ability as well as his skills in regards to returning punts which will be a huge dividend for the Niners.
The Niners then spent the majority of the remainder of the draft focusing on the defensive side of the football. Last year San Francisco was 24th in the NFL in total defense, and Lynch knows that this must be fixed in order for his team to take the next step. One player to keep an eye on will be inside linebacker Fred Warner. The Niners selected Warner in the third round of the draft, and after he led the BYU Cougars in tackles last season, his tackling ability as well as his natural instincts will allow him to push for playing time as a rookie.
Brick-by-brick Lynch is putting together a solid roster for the 49ers, and this draft could go a long way in getting things turned around in San Francisco.