Rams’ 2017 draft adds depth at receiver and along defensive front – Orange County Register

The NFL draft is over, and the Rams have added eight players that first-year Coach Sean McVay can use in an attempt to improve upon last year’s 4-12 record and the team’s dreadful offense.

The Rams selected one fullback (Sam Rogers), two receivers (Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds), one tight end (Gerald Everett), one defensive lineman (Tanzel Smart), two linebackers (Samson Ebukam and Ejuan Price) and one safety (John Johnson).

Here’s a position-by-position look at how the draft likely will change things for the Rams.

RUNNING BACK

Sixth-round pick Rogers (5-foot-10, 231 pounds) is a fullback who also can be a significant special-team contributor and a receiving threat. In four years at Virginia Tech, Rogers caught 72 passes for 802 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Rams will try desperately to get Todd Gurley going, after their run game was disastrous in 2016, and in Lance Dunbar, the Rams added a versatile back through free agency. Malcolm Brown also returns as a 5-foot-11, 224 bowling ball who ran well in a limited role last season.

RECEIVER

The Rams made two interesting additions in Kupp (Eastern Washington) and Reynolds (Texas A&M), and both have the potential to play early.

Kupp, a third-round pick, projects as slot receiver, but if he can also thrive on the outside, it would help the Rams tremendously. Reynolds, a fourth-round pick, is a potential deep threat, but it remains to be seen whether he has the strength and consistency to be an every-down receiver.

The role of newly added receiver Robert Woods, a steady possession guy, figures to be unchanged, but it will be interesting to see how Austin, a talented speedsters who has underachieved, will be impacted by the arrival of Reynolds.

With receivers such as Pharoh Cooper, Nelson Spruce, Bradley Marquez and Mike Thomas also in the fold, there figures to be plenty of training-camp competition.

TIGHT END

McVay loves his tight ends, and he added a potential big-play guy in the second round when the Rams drafted Everett out of South Alabama.

Everett and Tyler Higbee, a fourth-round pick last year, could be McVay’s new version of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, the tight-end duo he used as Washington’s offensive coordinator.

The draft probably isn’t good news for Temarrick Hemingway, a sixth-round pick last year, because the Rams also have veteran Cory Harkey, a strong blocker.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The Rams used a sixth-round pick on Smart (Tulane), a 6-1, 296-pound defensive tackle who could serve as a backup to Aaron Donald.

This unit might not be as deep as it was in 2016, in part because of the scheme change, but Donald still leads the way in the middle, with Michael Brockers, Ethan Westbrooks and Dominique Easley all expected to play at a high level.

LINEBACKER

The 3-4 scheme of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips puts a premium on edge rushers, and fourth-round pick Ebukam (Eastern Washington) is considered a high-ceiling prospect who might not need to play right away.

The Rams…

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