‘Dream Draft Target’ for Rams Could Replace Andrew Whitworth in 2022

Les Snead

Getty Les Snead shares a hug with Cooper Kupp following the Rams' Super Bowl 56 victory on Sunday, February 13.

Even a team like the Los Angeles Rams, featuring a general manager in Les Snead who jokingly paraded and caroused while wearing a T-shirt of himself with an expletive describing his feelings for the draft, can take the NFL Draft seriously when it comes time for it.

And a team like the Super Bowl champs, along with the other 31 teams, are likely thinking about their “dream draft target” for April.

But if it’s not the Rams who are thinking about who they can lure in, it’s certainly NFL analysts.

Either way, the draft is about two months away and the Rams won’t select anyone until the 103rd overall pick — meaning they won’t take part of the Thursday, April 28 festivities but will hold off until Friday’s session.

Via Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay on Thursday, February 24, the Rams could go “all in” on bolstering a crucial area that will need an upgrade for 2022.

Why it Would be ‘Prudent’ for the Rams to Not Bolster This Position

The “all-in” gamble again paid off for the champs for choosing stars over prospects. However, in his article “Identifying Every NFL Team’s Dream Draft Target in 2022,” Kay points out one key area that should not be ignored in the final Friday of April.

“It would be prudent for the club to select an offensive lineman at this spot, given it employs the league’s oldest left tackle in 40-year-old Andrew Whitworth,” Kay wrote.

And that’s when Kay threw out this suggestion via Conference USA:

“While the top options will be long gone by the time L.A. is on the clock, the team could conceivably land a prospect like UTSA’s Spencer Burford at the end of the third round,” Kay said. “Burford was a four-year starter for the Roadrunners, spending most of his time lining up at left tackle. He has adequate size for the position, standing nearly 6’4″ and 293 pounds, and moves well for his build.”

Scouting Burford

Burford is obviously not a household name in the upcoming draft, especially since he played in the Group of Five realm and is rated 11th out of 16 ranked tackle prospects by Bleacher Report.

One intriguing aspect out of Burford: He’s quick out of his stance as proven below.

With that foot quickness, he should come in handy on pulling plays in the run game. Plus should have no issue reaching the second level of the defense (linebackers) on designed screens. Here’s one sample of his destruction on pull plays:

However, Burford has his flaws — which surfaced during Senior Bowl week down in Mobile, Alabama. Quick, twitchy rushers like fellow Group of Five prospect DeAngelo Malone from Western Kentucky got the better end of Burford.

Also, Boye Mafe — considered the 15th best edge rusher prospect by B/R plus a prospect projected to be a starter in two years by nfl.com’s draft expert Lance Zierlein, blew past him during the Senior Bowl game:

Burford’s feet and athleticism makes him a potential fit for a Rams offense that likes to play fast. However, he’s been called “light in the pants” by B/R’s Brandon Thorn and has “inconsistent pad level and undisciplined technique” by Zierlein’s evaluation.

Kay adds “The Rams will want to see Burford get stronger and drop some poor habits, such as not staying square against power rushers, but they still would be getting a tackle who could contribute as a rotational player almost right away. While it’s unlikely Burford becomes a star, he has the upside of developing into a serviceable starter.”

Should the Rams get an eventual replacement for “Big Whit,” it’ll likely come in the form of adding depth on the blindside through the draft and not through free agency. Burford again may not be considered a game-changer type at his position, but if he does end up at No. 103 to the Rams, it could be a magic spot for him for this reason:

The Rams selected linebacker Ernest Jones at that same number in last year’s draft. Jones went on to become a starter for seven games, racked up 61 tackles including 36 solo and delivered two tackles for a loss (including one sack) in the Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

But it’s all dependent on if Burford falls into the category of “dream draft target” for the Rams.

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