THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams used their first pick Saturday to grab a potential starter up front on their defense, and they used their last pick on a guy from Last Chance U.
The NFC champions made their sixth trade of the draft in the morning, moving up for defensive tackle Greg Gaines in the fourth round. Coach Sean McVay said the Washington product could be the replacement for Ndamukong Suh, the imposing nose tackle on Los Angeles' Super Bowl team.
And with the 251st overall pick at the back of the seventh round, the Rams chose linebacker Dakota Allen. The Texas Tech product is better known from his time on the Netflix reality show "Last Chance U.," which chronicled his football comeback through community college after a burglary charge in 2016.
After emerging from the three-day draft hungry and tired from what he described as accidental intermittent fasting, general manager Les Snead felt the Rams had addressed their most pressing needs.
"The first priority was to try to figure out how we could ... draft Gaines to fill the nose tackle-type spot in our base defense," Snead said of Saturday's work. "And then from there, it was, 'OK, where can we find players who can help their position coach as well as Bones (special teams coordinator John Fassel)?'"
Gaines, who grew up in nearby La Habra, seems likely to get the chance to emerge from training camp as the starting nose tackle for the Rams, who are expecting Suh to leave as a free agent. Gaines was the second Washington defensive player drafted by the Rams, joining second-round pick Taylor Rapp.
"I've watched Aaron Donald a lot on film and studied a lot of his techniques," Gaines said of the Rams' All-Pro superstar. "It's going to be amazing to learn from him firsthand. I think he's going to really help me improve as a player."
Allen's career with the Red Raiders was derailed by his arrest, but Texas Tech ultimately welcomed him back to the program. The Rams voiced no concerns about Allen's character after a single misstep.
"There were people at Texas Tech who definitely fought for him to get a second chance, based on who he was," Snead said. "Great phone call. I think it was one of our favorites, because you could tell he was definitely appreciative to get this opportunity."
The Rams' other Saturday selections were Wisconsin offensive tackle David Edwards and Penn State safety Nick Scott.
WHO THEY GOT
Along with Gaines and Allen, the Rams chose three defensive backs and two offensive linemen with their eight picks, adding depth at perceived areas of need and on special teams. They made their biggest splash in the third round by choosing running back Darrell Henderson.
The Rams raised eyebrows by using a relatively high pick on Henderson, an elite ball carrier from Memphis. His high placement in the draft strongly indicated he'll get carries that would have gone to Gurley, one of the busiest players in the league over his first four seasons. But McVay insists the Rams aren't worried about Gurley's left knee, which slowed him late last season. McVay envisions Henderson as a complementary, change-of-pace back who will allow Los Angeles' offensive mastermind to add new wrinkles to his scheme.
HOW THEY DID
Most observers thought the Rams would attempt to land a higher-profile defensive lineman with an earlier pick, but Gaines is a solid prospect — and one the Rams clearly favored after watching him in the Senior Bowl. While Gaines probably has the best chance to be a rookie starter out of the Rams' eight picks, the NFC champs are still confident they got depth for an already solid roster. "That's a credit to where we are, going into our third year," McVay said. "There's a vision for all eight of these guys and how they fit within the framework of our roster."
The Rams must decide whether Gaines is ready to start right away. Two vacant starting jobs remain on the offensive line, but in-house candidates Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen are the front-runners after spending last season as rookie backups. Los Angeles likely could use another inside linebacker. McVay will have plenty of time to implement his plans for Henderson as well.