Rams NFL Combine: 5 Prospects Among 1st Group Team Must Place on Radar

Cooper Kupp

Getty Cooper Kupp during the March 4, 2017 NFL Combine session in Indianapolis before being drafted by the Rams.

The first step in figuring out who’s worth bringing into the “Rams House” begins this week for the Los Angeles Rams.

We’ve reached the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. And while this event may not be considered appealing in the past for a franchise that popularized the term “F Them Picks,” this year’s combine in Indianapolis takes on a new meaning: The road to shed the 5-12 memory of last season.

Yes, the Rams have used big name free agents to build their roster. However, the combine was also the place where the Rams first saw last season’s top rookie Cobie Durant blaze the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds in the cornerback group. This was also where 100-tackle linebacker Ernest Jones was discovered. And going back further, the Rams found an undersized defensive lineman named Aaron Donald and little-known wide receiver named Cooper Kupp at the combine.

The first group scheduled to perform at the combine has to be a blessing in disguise for the Rams — because it’s two areas that need the most addressing: Defensive linemen and linebackers. Here are five scheduled to go through drills in day one of the field showcase on Thursday, March 2 who the Rams must scout closely and place on their radar:

Drew Sanders, Edge/Inside Linebacker, Arkansas

If Sanders falls to No. 36 when the Rams make their pick, consider him a two-for-one gift for L.A.

The Razorbacks star would be capable of filling two needs for the Rams defense: Add a pass rusher next to Donald (delivered 9.5 sacks as a stand-up rusher), or slide inside and take over the spot Bobby Wagner will soon bequeath. Given that inside linebacker is suddenly a need, the towering and hard-nosed Sanders has to be near the top of the list for the Rams. He’d set an old school nasty tone if brought over.

Noah Sewell, ILB, Oregon

Staying on the topic of prospects who fit the old school label, the tenacious Sewell is another with “throwback demeanor” as Lance Zierlein of nfl.com described him.

Sewell could be considered a more oversized version of Wagner at 6-foot-2, 253-pounds. He comes with an offensive lineman’s power when taking on blocks. Though he may be lacking in speed when in coverage, he’s damaging when it comes to plays heading up his alley:

Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Norte Dame

While Nolan Smith of Georgia has been a trendy pick if he’s available in the second round to the Rams, the towering and fundamentally sound Foskey has emerged as a strong possibility if Smith goes higher than the 35th selection.

The Antioch, California native Foskey got better with sacks each season in South Bend — ending his ND career as the school’s all-time sacks leader. He’s another who’s strong at the point of attack with the hand violence needed to shed blockers. He’d give another towering rusher in Leonard Floyd some needed pass rush assistance.

Tuli Tuipulotu, Edge, USC

If the Rams want to stay local on the edge, this USC star is a good one worth watching during drills.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder is a pocket wrecker in the passing game who beats his blocks off of upper body power and bend to win the leverage battle. He then finishes in destructive fashion (the 2022 Stanford game is a perfect example). One AFC director of scouting told Zierlein “If you like strong and athletic (players), then you will like him.”

Tuipulotu also comes with the rare ability to play all defensive front spots given his length and power combination. He’d be a Michael Hoecht or Jonah Williams-type in this defense. He’s expected to be a day two guy at the highest.

Mazi Smith, Nose Tackle, Michigan

If it’s interior defender at the forefront for the Rams, especially with A’Shawn Robinson anticipated to leave as an unrestricted free agent, then this massive trench menace from the Wolverines has got to be plastered high on the Rams’ list once the first group performs.

The 6-foot-3, 337-pound Smith has the scary blend of size, power and speed — the latter attribute giving Big 10 offensive linemen fits in trying to control him at the line of scrimmage. His feet can also get him to slide into a gap and seize control of the opening. He’s not a natural pass rusher and his motor tends to flame out as the game goes on. But he’d be more of a goal line or short yardage defender option to start before he develops into a potential every down starter. He’s got scary grown man strength and athleticism for the nose tackle spot.

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