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Rams

NFL draft: Rams might stick with hands on deck at receiver

Rams Josh Reynolds catches a touchdown pass behind the Bears’ Kyle Fuller in November.
Rams are counting on Josh Reynolds, shown catching a pass in front of the Bears’ Kyle Fuller in November, to replace the production of Brandin Cooks, who was traded to the Texans.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

As the Rams prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will examine their roster. Part 10 of 10: Receivers.

In a year when the NFL draft is regarded as deep in receivers, the Rams might be searching for a deep threat.

The April 9 trade that sent Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans left the Rams without the speedster who forced defenses to respect the possibility of long passes.

The Rams do not have a first-round pick in the draft, which begins Thursday, but have two second-round selections — one acquired in the Cooks trade — among their seven picks.

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The Rams might decide, however, what they have at receiver suffices.

Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are returning starters, and Josh Reynolds started in place of Cooks last season when he was sidelined because of concussions.

The 2020 NFL draft is on Thursday, and NFL team beat writers have made their first-round picks in The Times’ annual reporters mock draft.

Kupp and quarterback Jared Goff said last week that Reynolds was a deep threat, and that they were looking forward to seeing him take advantage of greater opportunity. But they also acknowledged Cooks possessed an uncommon burst.

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“Replacing Brandin’s speed and downfield ability will be tough,” Goff said.

Last season, Kupp caught a team-best 94 passes, 10 for touchdowns. Woods caught 90 passes, Reynolds 21.

Restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented the receivers from participating in informal workouts with Goff. Kupp said players must find creative ways to stay in shape and prepare for an eventual return to the field, whenever that day comes.

“I played catch with my wife a little bit,” Kupp said. “She’s got a pretty good arm, but she’s a lefty so the ball spins in the opposite direction.”

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Kupp, a third-round draft pick in 2017, and Reynolds, a fourth-round pick, are entering the final year of their rookie contracts. General manager Les Snead has indicated extensions for players from the 2017 class might be addressed after this year’s draft.

Kupp said he was not concerned, that the situation would take care of itself.

The Times examines the top prospects ahead of the 2020 NFL draft, to be held April 23-25.

“There’s so much going on in the world right now, so much stuff that is happening, it’s really not a priority at this time,” Kupp said. “There’s more important things to put your time into.”

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Who is under contract: Woods ($8.2 million), Kupp ($2.4 million), Reynolds ($2.3 million), Nsimba Webster ($675,000), Greg Dortch ($675,000).

Free agents: The Rams did not re-sign Mike Thomas, a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft. They typically sign several free-agent receivers after the draft.

Draft: The Rams have two picks in the second round, two in the third, and one each in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds.

Roster decisions: Woods continues to outperform his contract, which runs through the 2021 season. The Rams could restructure the deal, give him an extension or stand pat.


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