The Los Angeles Rams are riding high after knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals to win Super Bowl 56. Repeating in the NFL is extremely difficult to accomplish, but Sean McVay and company will try to do just that.
The team lost multiple key players in the offseason, including Von Miller, Robert Woods, and Darious Williams. Now, the front office will look to replace them in the 2022 NFL Draft. LA has several pressing needs to address, most notably cornerback, linebacker, and offensive line. General manager Les Snead must be shrewd, as the Rams don’t pick until the third round.
Here’s how the reigning Super Bowl champions could approach the upcoming draft.
Round 3, No. 104 overall: Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
Assuming the LA Rams don’t make a play for one of the best remaining cornerbacks on the free-agent market, they should zero in on the position in the 2022 NFL Draft. Starting corner Darious Williams signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Donte Deayon appeared to be a promising piece, but he’s still a free agent, and LA hasn’t made progress on a deal.
Zyon McCollum is a player the Rams should have on their radar. The Sam Houston State product has been rising up draft boards, especially after his performances at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine. He was one of the fastest defensive backs, running an impressive 4.33 40-yard dash.
McCollum was a ballhawk throughout his college football career, recording 13 interceptions and six forced fumbles in five seasons. Playing in the FCS, he didn’t face elite competition, but McCollum possesses tools that could be intriguing for defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
McCollum has ideal size at 6-foot-2, 199 pounds to go along with his athletic traits. His length and ball skills could make him an eventual starter in LA. Playing alongside All-Pro Jalen Ramsey could also take his game to the next level.
Round 4, No. 142 overall: Damone Clark, LB, LSU
The Rams are currently in the running for former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. If he opts to sign with the Baltimore Ravens instead, general manager Les Snead could address the need for an inside linebacker in the NFL draft.
LSU’s Damone Clark comes with plenty of upside, and if he slides to the fourth round, the Rams must pounce on him. The former four-star prospect was a two-year starter at LSU, finishing his career with 249 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks. Clark is a versatile athlete who is capable of making plays all over the field.
While Clark’s tape is somewhat inconsistent, playing in the SEC works out in his favor. The 6-foot-2, 239-pound linebacker competed against the best of the best every week. His athletic traits could be a valuable asset to an already talented defense, as he flies to the football and plays with a high motor and physicality.
Ernest Jones had a strong rookie season. The Rams are bringing back Travin Howard, but Clark could compete with him for the other starting inside linebacker spot.
Round 5, No. 175 overall: Cade Mays, OG, Tennessee
The Rams boasted a top-10 offense in 2021, but they must field a complete offensive line if they want to continue being dominant. The unit suffered a huge blow when left tackle Andrew Whitworth announced his retirement. Fortunately, the team extended Joe Noteboom, who has started 17 games over the past three seasons. LA should look to add more depth up front, and it goes interior here.
The 2022 NFL Draft is pretty deep in the trenches, so the Rams can afford to wait until the fifth round. Cade Mays is another SEC guy with plenty of experience. At 6-foot-5, 311 pounds, the Tennessee Volunteers standout has experience playing all five positions on the offensive line. However, he projects best as an interior lineman in the NFL.
Mays has great length and is very powerful as a blocker. He plays with a mean streak and an edge. His physicality would be a valued addition to the unit and the locker room, as they’ll quickly embrace him. Even though he’s not the most technically sound offensive lineman in the draft, he has a solid foundation.
LA re-signed center Brian Allen, but the starting guard spots don’t appear set in stone. Mays will likely be a depth piece at first, but he has the potential to be a starter in this league.