Rams 2023 NFL Draft: 3 outside the box prospects for LA to consider

As usual, the second two days of the NFL Draft should be the busiest time of the year for Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead. Though the Rams have not made a day one pick since 2016, the team has consistently racked up multiple picks per round after the first.

In 2022, two picks in round six, three in round seven. In 2021, three picks in rounds four, three in round seven. In 2020, two picks each in rounds two and three, three in round seven. In 2019, three picks in round three, two in round seven. In 2018, two picks in rounds four, five, and seven, and four picks in round six. So on.

The case is no different in 2023. Though compensatory picks are not yet officialthe Rams appear set to end up with two picks in round five, four in round six, and two in round seven.

The only person busier than Les Snead on the third day of the draft will be yours truly, trying to recap each pick again as they roll in minute after minute. Les, I beg of you…trade up!

Without maybe flipping around some picks, the Rams could once again pick 10 times in the 2023 NFL Draft. LA made 11 picks in 2018, coming away with Joe Noteboom, Brian Allen, John Franklin-Myers, Micah Kiser, Ogbannia Okoronkwo, John Kelly, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Travin Howard, among three others. Stars? No. Are the best of those players on the Jets and Chargers now? Yes. But 2018 could be Snead’s most well rounded haul to date.

Coming off of 2022’s disappointment the Rams need a smash hit draft class. There will be a few outside-the-box prospects, as always, and these names may not be the first that come to mind but they are worth being on your radar.

QB Tyson Bagent, Shepherd University

Yes, there is a school called Shepherd. Yes, they have a football program. Yes, the quarterback is a legitimate NFL Draft prospect, otherwise he would not have been the first quarterback invited to the Senior Bowl this year.

It is hardly unusual for NFL quarterbacks to be completely overlooked as recruits out of high school. Josh Allen had to go to a community college before transferring to Wyoming. Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Tony Romo also headline a long list of Pro Bowl quarterbacks who had barely any offers coming out of high school. But a quarterback getting drafted out of Shepherd or any Division-II school is highly unusual.

These considerations never come without merit and the Rams could be a good landing spot for Shepherd as a seventh round pick. Sean McVay wasn’t shy about developing undrafted free agents Bryce Perkins and John Wolford as potential starters, so Bagent makes a strong argument as a late round pick or undrafted free agent.

The Draft Network posted an interview with Bagent on Wednesday and started by highlighting how the 6’3 record-setter got to this point:

A highly-decorated quarterback, Bagent threw for 5,000 yards and 53 touchdowns throughout a standout 2021 campaign, becoming just the ninth quarterback in college football history to reach the 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown club. Bagent followed that up by throwing for 4,580 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2022.

The Athletic reported that all 32 teams scouted Bagent in person at some point during his college career at Shepherd and this indicates that interest is based in more than just great stats against inferior competition. Cooper Kupp can attest to the hard work and talent it takes to dominate competition that rarely makes it to the NFL, then turning it into a pro career.

TDN mentioned to Bagent that he could be the first D-II quarterback drafted since 1999 and the first player out of Shepherd since 1960.

Tyson Bagent: It’s pretty crazy. That’s a long time ago. To think that my name is being brought up in those conversations as the one to potentially end those droughts, it’s such an incredible feeling. I can be the next one after all these years.

There have been so many great quarterbacks to come from the D-II level. We’ve had so many great players at Shepherd University as well. It’s an honor. It’s extremely motivating for me. I want to be that breakthrough guy for us. I’m going to do the best I can.

Something else you will hear about Bagent: His father Travis is one of the greatest arm wrestlers in the history of arm wrestling. Tyson is using his arm in a different way, but it could be just as special … and much more valuable.

And for what it’s worth, the name “Bagent” rhymes with “agent”. It’s a note that NFL announcers may need to consider in the future.

DE Andre Carter II, Army

While Bagent may be a consideration for the Rams on day three or after the draft has concluded, Carter is someone who Les Snead will probably have to spend his first pick on. That’s not something that anyone was sure would be possible until recently.

As an Army grad, there was concern for a long time that Carter would have to fulfill his military obligations before he could start his professional football career. It’s not that Carter and his family were against those military obligations—Carter turned down opportunities to transfer for lucrative NIL deals because of his commitment to the Army—but as one of the best pass rushing prospects in the 2023 class, it was unfortunate that he may never get his opportunity to play in the NFL.

Thanks to recent legislation that passed, Carter is eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft and he will be a consideration for the Rams if he slips out of the first round.

For NFLDraftBuzz, Carter is expected to measure at 6’7, 260 lbs, with an estimated 40-yard time in the 4.6 range. A high school receiver and tight end, Carter’s recruitment as a football player suffered from being “too lean” for certain positions and that he would not excel on offense at the next level. That led him to West Point and then he exploded during his junior campaign: 58 pressures, including 15 sacks.

Carter was not nearly as productive this past season, totaling 3.5 sacks in 10 games, but a strong combine paired with his history of dominance on the field could definitely lead to him being an early draft pick.

Where would the Rams fit him? It’s hard to imagine Leonard Floyd staying with LA past 2023, if he even makes it that far. With similar body types—and Floyd ran an exact 4.6 at the 2016 combine—perhaps Carter could be the heir apparent at outside linebacker.

He has the eligibility. Does he have the edge ability?

DT Calijah Kancey, Pitt

It’s hard to believe now that Aaron Donald was once one of the most “outside-the-box” first round picks at defensive tackle ever, but he continues to be an anomaly that defies explanation. Donald may be listed at 280 or so, but he insists that he plays around 255. As a defensive tackle. As the best defensive tackle in NFL history.

What?

Well, if AD worked so well for Snead once, could lightning strike twice with the defensive tackle who went to the same college and has the same “red flag” of being too undersized to make it in the NFL? Let’s not mince comparisons here: Calijah Kancey is not the same prospect that Donald was in 2014.

But like Donald, Kancey is also not someone who you want to underestimate.

At 6′, 275 lbs, Kancey has been a force since his freshman season at Pitt, but he came on strong as a sophomore and junior, posting a total of 27.5 TFL and 14.5 sacks in 23 games over the past two seasons. He was a Consensus All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2022.

Why do I stop comparing him to Aaron Donald? In AD’s final season alone, he posted 28.5 TFL and 11 sacks with four forced fumbles in only 13 games. He was the most dominant defensive player in the country and then when he got to the combine, he posted records for his position that haven’t been broken since…and potentially never will be.

That’s why Donald was the 13th overall pick in spite of his frame. And why Kancey, barring a 4.68 40-yard dash and 35 reps on the bench at 285 lbs like Donald, could be available to the Rams on day two.

Why would Kancey make sense for the Rams? Give me a break.

How many years AD has left is unknown and Kancey’s path to the NFL couldn’t be paved in more gold if you dropped him in Oz. A fellow Pitt alum who knows exactly what he had to do at his size di lui to dominate NFL centers and guards for nine years serving as his mentor di lui?

Sure, sign me up.

Of course, this only matters if the Rams view Kancey as a future NFL star. Being from the same school and also being undersized is not enough of an endorsement on its own. But Kancey was productive, he put the proof on the field, and now he needs to go hit home runs all the way through the draft process.

If that happens, I Kancey why the Rams would like him.

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