Assuming OBJ leaves in free agency, these 6 receivers could be options for the Rams in the 2022 NFL draft
Odell Beckham Jr. has silenced the doubters after signing a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams back in October.
He had 17 receptions for 232 yards and no touchdowns in six games with Cleveland. Since then? OBJ has 25 receptions for 287 yards and 5 TDs with Los Angeles.
But there’s a good chance he won’t be back next season. The Rams won’t have a lot of wiggle room financially next season, with a projected $3 million in cap space.
And Los Angeles won’t have a draft pick until late in the third round. All told, the team has eight picks, including late picks in the third- and fourth-rounds. Most of the team’s draft capital comes in the sixth- and seventh-rounds, where Los Angeles has five picks.
Still, assuming Robert Woods comes back healthy and with the MVP-level play of Cooper Kupp, the Rams don’t need to find a “star” in this draft to replace OBJ. There should be plenty of quality and even starter-level receivers available in the third- and fourth-rounds.
It’s a fairly deep year for receivers, at least in terms of quantity. That’s why it’s likely that at least one of these receivers will still be available when Los Angeles drafts in the third and/or fourth rounds. Here’s six who could be available when the Rams are on the clock (rankings are via the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board):
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Tolbert is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season after finishing with a career-high in receptions with 82 for 1,474 yards and a career-high-tying 8 touchdowns. Tolbert has 178 receptions for 3,140 yards and 22 TDs for his career, most of it coming his final three seasons. And his 1,665 yards receiving versus single coverage led college football since 2020, according to Pro Football Focus.
Learn the name Jalen Tolbert. pic.twitter.com/mA0kG1Lh70
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) November 21, 2021
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior might have been the first receiver taken had it not been for a torn ACL suffered during spring practice. He came back late in the season and has caught 4 passes for 55 yards in three games as he works his way back from the injury. It’s possible he won’t be available in the third – or the second – round, especially if his medicals turn out OK. PFF’s Trevor Sikkema recently mocked Pickens to Detroit in Round 1. Here’s what Sikkema said about Pickens’ sophomore season: “He was on the line of scrimmage and faced a good amount of press coverage. He has a big enough body to handle the physicality at the line yet the speed to stretch the field vertically to keep cornerbacks hesitant from pressing too hard. … His hands were consistent throughout the season; he has the ability to come down with spectacular catches and tracks the ball well through contact.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2022
Alec Pierce, Cincinnati, No. 91
Pierce had a breakout season this year with 52 receptions for 884 yards and 8 TDs, all career-highs. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler recently ranked the 6-foot-3, 213-pound senior as the No. 10 wide receiver in the upcoming draft. From Brugler: “… An accomplished high school high jumper and volleyball player, his leaping skills and hand-eye coordination allow him to track downfield and high-point over defenders. He must continue to improve his separation skills and play strength, but he shows the same competitive fire as both a blocker and receiver.”
*Alec Pierce down there somewhere*#CFB
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 30, 2021
The Nevada senior has improved his statistics every year and was a TD machine his final two years as the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Doubs had 20 during that span and had 26 for his career. He also finished with 225 receptions for 3,322 yards. Doubs was ranked as the 13th-best receiver and No. 87 prospect in PFF’s latest rankings.
#Nevada WR Romeo Doubs is starting to put it all together and round out his game. Still works extremely well on a vertical plane but the nuance of the position is becoming second nature.
Subtle double move, stacks his defender, “dunks” on his man, high pointing at catch point. pic.twitter.com/rGRGF4vqFG
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 30, 2021
Like Pickens, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Ross likely would have been a first-round pick had it not been for his medical situation. A rare condition in his vertebrae was discovered while receiving treatment for a stinger suffered in a spring practice in 2020. He wound up missing the season, then came back this season to catch 47 passes for 524 yards and 3 TDs. Some of that can be blamed on the QB situation at Clemson, but Ross never came close to matching his freshman season when he caught 46 passes for 1,000 yards and 9 TDs and led the nation in yards per route run. Still, as PFF points out, teams will be intrigued by Ross’ “massive catch radius and tremendous ball skills.” PFF ranks him one slot behind Doubs in both the receiver rankings and in their latest big board.
JUSTYN ROSS ARE YOU KIDDING ME 😳😳😳 pic.twitter.com/wjRE37lvqT
— Footballism™ (@FootbaIIism) January 8, 2019
Draft evaluators rave about the 6-foot, 190-pound slot receiver’s playmaking ability. Shakir, ranked behind Ross in PFF’s receiver rankings, finished his senior year with 77 receptions for 1,117 yards and 7 TDs, all career-highs. PFF says Shakir “… is a human highlight reel for the Broncos. His body control and hands are the stuff of legend. He likely profiles best from the slot after putting up over 1,000 yards there in 2021.”
Khalil Shakir is the definition of ELECTRIC ⚡️
His 86.7 PFF Grade is 2nd among Mountain West WRs 🐴pic.twitter.com/ztBu0kshoh
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) December 12, 2021