Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Rams Fill Out Roster in NFL Draft

 

The Los Angeles Rams spent three days of the 2019 NFL Draft trading away their first-round pick, swapping draft choices and adding selections. Safety Taylor Rapp became the Rams top choice at No. 29 in the Second Round and 61st overall. Eventually the Super Bowl finalists settled on three third-rounders, one fourth, one fifth and two seventh picks.

We didn't feel like we would get him, but through it all we're always like, 'Wow, Taylor Rapp,' because of his rare instincts, short area quickness," said Rams General Manager Les Snead who traded with the Kansas City Chiefs to acquire the safety from the University of Washington.

Head Coach Sean McVay: "he's one of the top-rated players that we had in terms of just a guy who's showing up, making a lot of different plays, showing a versatile skillset."

Rapp should expect to start immediately while helping to address the Rams secondary issues. Last year's franchise-tagged safety Lamarcus Joyner signed a four-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on March 4. The team's signing of free-agent All-Pro safety Eric Weddle during the off-season will accelerate Rapp's progress

The Rams opted for a running back instead of initially addressing their offensive/defensive line and linebacker needs with their first of three third round picks. They chose Darrell Henderson, 5'8" 208 lbs. from the University of Memphis. Henderson finished second in the country 1,909 rushing yards and was a 2018 Associated Press first-team All-American.

"I'm just going to go in there and do what I'm supposed to do and work hard," said Henderson. "It's always good to have somebody to learn from. I'm going to learn from Todd Gurley and make sure that I'm doing my job."

McVay: "The biggest thing that Darrell does for us, he provides us a skillset and the ability to make plays, whether it's detached or whether it's in the backfield, whether it's taking an offset-gun run handoff or whether it is lining up in the dot."

The secondary received more attention. David Long, a cornerback who starred at Loyola High School in Los Angeles and the University of Michigan, was the Rams second choice in the Third round. Long made the 2018 first-team All-Big Ten list but at 5'11" he'll get tested early and often in the NFL. Long is physical, intense, has speed, is balanced and can cover.

"When you get into David Long, the character is off the charts and he is a guy that has a skillset, the ability to come off and play man coverage, be able to play physical and be able to stay in guys' back hips and mirror," said McVay.

The Rams finally addressed the offensive line with tackle Bobby Evans from the University of Oklahoma as their third selection in the Third Round. At 6'4" and 312 lbs. and perhaps slightly short for the tackle position, Evans has excellent upper-body strength, long arms and solid technique. The team needs Evans to develop as a reliable backup and hopefully compete for a starting position within a few years.

"Man, it's overwhelming. Words can't even describe how happy and excited I am right now," said Evans on being drafted by the Rams. He was impressed when he earlier visited the team's facility: "I knew. I fell in love. Coach Kromer (Run Game Coordinator Aaron Kromer), I know he's a great coach. I know his son pretty well. I was good friends with him when he was at OU and I'm just excited for the opportunity."

Defensive tackle Greg Gaines became the second Washington Huskie defensive player to be selected by the Rams in this year's draft in the Fourth Round. Gaines, a defensive tackle and a 2014 graduate from La Habra High, is expected to help minimize the Rams' loss of Ndamukong Suh. Regardess, the team will need to keep searching for defensive line help before the season starts.

"He's going to get a chance to compete, but he is a guy that we identified that we feel like really will do a great job as a nose guard in our base package," said McVay of Gaines. "You look at a physical, stout player. He was an outstanding, productive player for Washington."

The Rams selected David Edwars, tackle from the University of Wisconsin, as the 31st choice in the Fifth Round. They chose safety Nick Scott from Penn State as their 29th choice in the Seventh Round and linebacker Dakota Allen from Texas Tech as their final pick of the draft, the 37th choice in also in the Seventh Round.

Edwards on being drafted by the Rams: "When I left my interview with the Rams at the combine, I felt really good about it. Even though I didn't know that this was kind of a chance, I thought I'd be in a good spot if the Rams were to take me."

Scott calls himself a special teams guru: "That's what I call myself. I've played special teams all four years. I was special teams player of the year my freshman year and special teams captain the two years after that." Special teams coordinator John Fassel reached out to Scott during the drafting process, giving a sense he might be drafted by the Rams.

Allen reflected on an incident while at Texas Tech: "You know, I had a mistake in my past and the biggest thing is, I learned from it and I grew from it as a person. I'm just excited to continue my football career as an L.A. Ram."

Allen also participated in the television show 'Last Chance U': "Honestly, it was a weird experience, but also a great experience. People do recognize me from the show. They recognize me as sort of the good guy on the show. The whole experience was just amazing and I'm thankful for it because I was able to continue playing football."

 

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