Heavy on Rams Mock Draft 2.0: Sleeper Talent Goes to the Champs


Getty Does cornerback help come for the Rams in the latest mock draft?

One year ago, the Los Angeles Rams took a star from the non-Football Bowl Subdivision realm as one of their 2022 NFL draft picks, as versatile cornerback Robert Rochell from Central Arkansas got taken at 130th overall.

Could the number of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) talent double come Friday, April 25? There’s a strong chance.

The April 15 Heavy on Rams mock draft had the Super Bowl 56 champs going with cornerback help first through Cam Taylor-Britt of Nebraska, followed by offensive guard Lecitus Smith of Virginia Tech going next in round four. Only one FCS representative (Noah Elliss of Idaho) comprised the eight projected picks.

Now, the duo of Lorenzo Reyna and Conor Roche have unveiled their second mock picks for the champs. And now it’s not just two times the FCS talent…but three times the sleeper fun. Here’s who both came up with:

Round 3, No. 104 Overall: Zyon McCollum, Cornerback, Sam Houston State

The Cornhusker Taylor-Britt is now projected to be taken early in the third round by Chad Reuter of nfl.com (No. 72 to Seattle).

McCollum, however, has witnessed a climb as teams have become enamored with his size (6-foot-3), speed (40-yard dash time of 4.34) and ball-hawking capability (produced four seasons of snatching three interceptions for the Bearkats). A towering ball-hawk with Rochell and Jalen Ramsey together is a scary thought for opposing quarterbacks.

Round 4, No. 142: Pierre Strong Jr., Running Back South Dakota State

Strong didn’t play in the FBS, but he’s still worthy of a fourth-round selection. The South Dakota State product destroyed opponents in 2021, rushing for 1,673 yards and 18 touchdowns. Over his four-year college career, Strong had 10 50-plus yard touchdown runs. A big reason for that is his speed — as he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in March.

Strong wasn’t much of a receiving threat in college (he had 22 receptions over 15 games in 2021), so he’ll have to battle Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers for carries as a rookie. Henderson, however, will be a free agent after the 2022 season. Sony Michel’s future is also to be determined. So Strong could potentially have a light workload as a rookie before hitting the ground running (literally) in 2023.

Round 5, No. 175: Joshua Ezeudu, Interior Offensive Line, North Carolina

There is still the thought of the Rams drafting blindside help post Andrew Whitworth or taking a guard with Austin Corbett gone.

But why not take a guy who was known for playing both tackle and guard at UNC? The 6-foot-4, 308-pounder has rapid fire feet in pass protection and comes equipped with a soul-taking streak. He lacks an explosive punch with his hands, but makes up for it by staying on his block. A versatile lineman would be a solid pick for head coach Sean McVay, general manager Les Snead and company.

Round 6, No. 211: Noah Elliss, Nose Tackle, Idaho

Our first guy from last week’s mock draft returns — and at the same spot.

Teams may shy away given his weight at 365-pounds. But the son of former NFL Pro Bowler Luther Elliss has scary grown man strength and fills a nose tackle need after the loss of Sebastian Joseph-Day.

Round 6, No. 212: Christopher Allen, Edge Rusher, Alabama

The sixth round is the perfect round to take a chance on someone like Allen. The Alabama defensive end looked poise to have a strong 2021 season after he recorded six sacks in the Crimson Tide’s national championship season in 2020. But he suffered a season-ending foot injury when he recorded a strip-sack in the season-opener.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein likes Allen’s “twitch and technique” to shed single blocks. However, he thinks he still has to learn more rush moves in order to become a consistent starter. Los Angeles can afford though to wait and see if Allen can develop into a rotation guy in 2022.

Round 6, No. 218: Brad Hawkins, Safety, Michigan

Hawkins holds a significant record at Michigan: Appearing in a program-record 56 games. He started 31 of those games at free safety and was a key part of the defensive unit that helped win Michigan the Big 10 title in 2021.

Hawkins recorded 60 total tackles (three for a loss) with two forced fumbles. However, he didn’t have a single interception over his college career, as he mostly played inside and outside the box, so the Rams could choose to develop him as a backup at either spot. He also played on the special teams unit for the Wolverines, which is always a plus especially for the Rams. Could be key special teams get at this spot.

Round 7, No. 238: Cameron Latu, Tight End, Alabama

Latu began his career in Tuscaloosa as a linebacker before switching to tight end after his freshman season.

He didn’t see much playing time as a tight end though until 2021, when he became the team’s starter. And he ended up establishing himself as a solid red zone threat, recording eight touchdown receptions. Latu also had his best performance in the National Championship Game, where he had five receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. Latu, who stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 250 pounds, doesn’t project to be much of a receiving threat in the NFL. But his size and performance in college suggest he could end up being a solid red zone threat and needed blocking option along the line.

Round 7, No. 253: Ryan Stonehouse, Punter, Colorado State

Matt Araiza, who starred in the same conference as Stonehouse in the Mountain West, was the pick here in the last mock. Reuter, however, has him going at No. 123 in the fourth to the Chargers.

The next best option from the MWC? Stonehouse, who also has a “majestic leg.”

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