September 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans safety T.J. McDonald (7) defends against the California Golden Bears during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

St. Louis Rams 2013 NFL Draft Preview: Luke Joeckel And T.J. McDonald

Although the Rams have dropped to 3-5, this season has been a success thus far. It’s evident that the Rams have improved, but it’s also evident that the Rams are still a couple of years away from being a true Superbowl contender. The Rams did have some positives coming out of week eight, even though they were embarrassed by a polished New England Patriots. The Rams’ promising defense were exposed to a power Patriot offense. It has been the Rams’ defense that have kept them in touch with most games and now they need an offense that can stand up against an offensive shoot out. This week’s positive outcomes came from the Washington Redskin’s loss to the Steelers, allowing the Rams having their 2013 first round draft pick. The other positives this week, came from the losses of the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.

The Rams have the luxury of picking up two first round draft picks in 2013 and 2014 thanks to Robert Griffin III. This is why the Ramblin Fan Draft Preview, will analyze one player from both offense and defense.

Position needs: OL, OLB, WR, SS/FS, TE

OFFENSE
Luke Joeckel (6 foot 6, 310 pounds)
Offensive Linemen (Texas A&M)
It’s obvious that the Rams will fix the offensive line in the offseason. You know you have trouble when you can’t name the players playing the position. Although the Ram’s offensive line haven’t been playing poorly in recent weeks, it will only be a matter of time before they are exposed, resulting in the destruction of Sam Bradford. During the Rams Vs. Patriots game, it was a scary sight to see Bradford being slammed onto his shoulder and facing a possible short lived career with another shoulder injury. These are the types of detrimental losses the Rams could be up against, unless they fix their issues at the line.

Joeckel is the best tackle in the 2013 draft class. He is freakishly quick on his feet and has amazing endurance. The scary thing is that he’s 6 foot 6 and 310. It doesn’t make sense to be as athletic as him, as well as being as monstrous. Last year Joeckel blocked for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and was a big part of Texas A&M success on offense, allowing Texas A&M to gain 420 total yards average for 2011 season. For Joeckel, 2012 has been even better. Last week Joeckel was up against a strong LSU, who have elite pass rushers that will more than likely be drafted in to the top 15 next year. Plenty of draft scouts would’ve been watching this match up. Who won the battle? Luke Joeckel domimated. Joeckel went up against top draft prospect Sam Montgomery and kept him quiet the whole night. Watch for Luke Joeckel to be on Rams’ most wanted list. If Joeckel came to Rams, Roger Saffold will move to his preferred right tackle position and Sam Bradford won’t have to worry about being killed on his blind side.

DEFENSE
T.J McDonald (6 foot 3, 205 pounds)
Safety (USC)
After the dismal performances from both safeties against the Patriots, it was almost compulsory to put a safety in this draft preview. The Rams haven’t drafted a safety who proved to be a pro bowler in three decades! Expect to see the Rams transform Trumaine Johnson into a safety, because whenever he’s on the field, he seems to be making plays. Rams have been very weak at safety for 10 years, so drafting a safety could be the last piece of the puzzle to the already much improved Rams defense.

McDonald stands at an intimidating 6 foot 3. His range and size makes him an interesting prospect for the safety positions. He isn’t the best safety in the draft, but expect teams to look at him from around the late first round to the early second round. He has the ability to play free safety and covers a lot of ground in the deep part of the field. He does a great job in picking up receivers on deep routes, he doesn’t seem to get lost when a long ball is thrown and he is a beast in the running game. McDonald hurt his draft stock when he decided to go back to college this year. Now Mcdonald finds himself up against a very strong safety class. So far McDonald has had a very consistent year, picking up 63 tackles, one interception and two pass deflections. McDonald has received good preparation for the NFL at USC. Expect Jeff Fisher to be interested in drafting an NFL ready body, as the Rams have enough projects on the team.

Follow the links to previous Ramblin Fan Draft Previews:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3 
Week 4

Follow @davebarber92 on Twitter for constant Rams updates.

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Tags: Draft St. Louis Rams

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