Commentary

Since the Los Angeles Rams have a couple of third-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, let’s revisit some of the top third-rounders in franchise history. It’s actually more challenging than I thought to pick just five. See if you can guess before the list begins. Also, I’m not including Cooper Kupp or John Johnson because it’s too early in their career. I totally believe that they have the potential to be on this list someday, but it’s still early to call.

Jackson State OT Jackie Slater

Selection: 86th overall of the 1976 NFL Draft

Slater is easily the most notable third-rounder in franchise history. The Hall of Fame tackle is responsible for establishing some of the best offenses the Rams have ever seen. One player that did benefit from Slater’s blocking is Eric Dickerson. With seven Pro Bowls under his belt, Slater doesn’t really need an introduction. For a more thorough look at his legacy, we have an article to tribute his career. Not a bad steal drafting a Hall of Famer in the third round.

Colorado State RB Lawrence McCutcheon

Selection: 70th overall of the 1972 NFL Draft

The Rams do have knack at drafting running backs. McCutcheon doesn’t receive the recognition he deserves. True, there is a long list of great RBs, but he’s been a huge contributor to the franchise for decades. Making five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances (1973-1977), McCutcheon is fourth on the Rams’ all-time rushing leaders. At 6,186 rushing yards, he trails only Marshall Faulk (6,959 yards), Dickerson (7,245 yards) and Steven Jackson (10,138 yards). Not bad to be mentioned in the same breath as these great players. Top that off at being part of the historic 1979 team, and the Rams did score on McCutcheon as a third-round gem.

Kansas CB LeRoy Irvin

Selection: 70th overall of the 1980 NFL Draft

Another player that doesn’t get a lot of love is Irvin. This is more of a factual statement for the NFL in general, Ram fans recall all that he contributed. Irvin is the epitome of a shutdown corner, and he had to be going up against guys like Joe Montana. In 10 seasons, Irvin collected 34 interceptions. He did take two trips to the Pro Bowl in 1985 and 1986. As a bonus, his punt/kick returning skills were also a dangerous asset for him.

Tennessee LB Leonard Little

Selection: 65th overall of the 1998 NFL Draft

Part of the Super Bowl XXXIV and XXXVI teams, Little made a big difference. Little impressed many in 2001 by earning 14.5 sacks in just 13 games. Oddly enough, he didn’t make it to the Pro Bowl roster that year. That did change in 2003 where he picked up 12.5 sacks. It may be his only Pro Bowl selection, but as a player that achieved double-digit sacks four times in his career, it’s safe he’s underrated. He earned 364 total tackles, 87.5 sacks and 31 forced fumbles in 12 seasons with the Rams.

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UCLA RB Wendell Tyler

Selection: 79th overall of the 1977 NFL Draft

Tyler is another causality of underrated RBs from this franchise. While he didn’t spend his entire career in a Rams uniform, he did make a huge impact for several seasons. He did earn two 1,000-yard seasons in 1979 and 1981. It’s difficult to find 1,000-yard rushers in the first round, much less the third round. Tyler is a guy you didn’t want to give too much room to work with or else he’d leave defenders in the dust, with the visual of him crossing the end zone. In six seasons with the Rams, he earned 3,266 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.

Honorable mentions: 

Texas A&M S Dave Elmendorf

Selection: 63rd overall of the 1971 NFL Draft

Montana CB Trumaine Johnson

Adidas Hockey Adidas Hockey Usa Adidas Jersey Jersey Usa Selection: 65th overall of the 2012 NFL Draft

Sources: jpg larry Nfl3090309 Fitzgerald Wikimedia Commons Hr File -

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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Commentary

Please hear me out before shooting the messenger. This doesn’t define my opinion whether or not the Los Angeles Rams should draft a running back during the 2019 NFL Draft. Kerrith Whyte Jr. is one of a handful of prospects that are meeting with the Rams for a pre-draft meeting.

That said, after reviewing the film, I can see why the Rams are showing interest in Whyte. The question now becomes should they draft him?

College stats and honors: 

2018: 866 rushing yards, 160 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns and 6.5 yards per rushing attempt.

Career: 1,358 rushing yards, 227 receiving yards, 13 total touchdown and 5.9 yards per rushing attempt.

Honors: Conference USA Second Team as a kick returner (2018), Conference USA Honorable Mention as a running back (2018) and eighth in program history in rushing touchdowns.

Strengths: 

In short, Whyte possesses a ton of stamina. Once his motor gets going, he’s not an easy man to take down. His secondary burst of speed is elite. This is tough to find in any player, much less in the 2019 NFL Draft. Matching this with his stout 5’10” frame, and this is a beast of a running back. Whyte’s explosion is just ridiculously quick. At his Pro Day, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. Adding a 42-inch vertical jump may also help his draft status.

Keeping all of this mind, he also is one of the more elusive running backs in the NFL Draft. He makes defenders look silly at times with just a simple change in direction. He may not have been the Owls’ feature back, but Florida Atlantic did benefit from his services along with Devin Singletary.

Weaknesses: 

Playing in a weak conference like Conference USA did make his highlight reels seem better than he might be. He possesses undeniable talent, but it’s difficult to identify how much coaching he will need since he didn’t see elite defenders. Because of this, it will be harder for him to break certain habits like playing too high. Defenders in the NFL will exploit this habit and will make him pay for not playing low enough.

The other thing to consider is he’s not the only talented running back on FAU’s roster. This means he often did have fresh legs rotating with Singletary. This may not be a huge deal since some NFL teams do run a running back by committee approach to their offensive scheme. But, he may need to train a little harder to make the impact that other teams expect in a draft prospect.

Expected Draft Round:

This one is tough to predict. Whyte truly did himself a disservice by entering the 2019 NFL Draft. I believe if he stayed one more year at FAU, he could have been a top running back prospect. Still, I think NFL scouts are showing plenty of interest. I expect him to be a Day 3 prospect, maybe in the fourth or fifth round. Whyte could sneak into the third round if he generates enough interest.

I don’t believe Whyte should be a priority, but if he’s a Day 3 prospect, I wouldn’t oppose selecting him in rounds 4-7. The Rams may not be looking for starting running back or even an immediate back up, but more competition is a good thing. His potential may be better than that of Justin Davis.

Sources: Sports-reference.com

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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