With the Washington Redskins loss on Sunday, the St. Louis Rams now have the 16th and 22nd picks in the 2013 NFL Draft locked into place. As the playoffs continue to progress, and more and more teams get eliminated, the mock drafting season will shift into high gear, pumping out more rumors and “expert” opinions than a tabloid newspaper. Even if you despise the idea of mock drafting, no sports fan can resist the temptation to scroll through them in search of their teams’ pick. This year, the St. Louis Rams “major” needs’ list is sizeably smaller, although there are still some gaping holes in the roster. In particular, the Rams will be looking to find an offensive tackle, safety, outside linebacker (strongside), guard, and, potentially, a playmaking tight end or wide receiver. So, after an extended weekend of football, here are how a few sites have the Rams picking in the draft…
Bleacher Report: 2013 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections After Wild Card Playoffs
16. Dallas Thomas (OT), Tennessee
The team has keepers in left tackle Rodger Saffold and right guard Harvey Dahl, but the rest of the unit is replaceable. The only way we’ll ever see what Sam Bradford can do at quarterback is if he’s protected.
Dallas Thomas is versatile enough to play guard or tackle, but he’s more valuable as a powerful right tackle than anywhere else. Thomas could be a fixture stopping the high-powered pass-rushers the NFC West features and would help in the run game as well.
22. Barrett Jones (OT/G/C), Alabama
Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones can play guard or center, and the Rams could use help at either position. Ideally, Jones would come in as a left guard, powering the run game and adding to the pass protection that is so vital to the team’s offense clicking in 2013.
Jones is a highly decorated blocker and will be viewed as one of the safer picks in the late first round. And with the Rams needing so much help up front, this may be one of the better need/value picks of the round.
16. Chance Warmack (G), Alabama
The Rams are taking steps in the right direction. The offensive line needs to start progressing if the team is going to continue to maneuver its way through a tough NFC West. Chance Warmack is a mauler on the inside. He’s a rare guard prospect, making him worthy of consideration in the middle of the first round.
22. Eric Fisher (OT), Central Michigan
The Rams offensive line issues can’t be solved with one first round pick. Using both picks on the offensive line would be a wise investment. Eric Fisher is a technically sound lineman who has flashed athleticism and has the ability to anchor on the left side. The Rams could solidify the offensive line with Warmack and Fisher.
Walter Football: 2013 NFL Mock Draft
16. Chance Warmack (G), Alabama
Guards seldom have a chance to go in the top 15, but Chance Warmack has a shot because he’s a special talent. Besides, he’s the top prospect available who makes sense for St. Louis.
The Rams desperately need to upgrade their offensive front. Jeff Fisher played against the Texans twice per year when he was with Tennessee, and he watched Houston completely ruin David Carr’s career by not building a competent offensive line around him. He won’t want to make the same mistake with Sam Bradford.
22. Kenny Vaccaro (S), Texas
I don’t know if the Rams necessarily go with a receiver anymore. Chris Givens has looked great and then there’s Danny Amendola. By taking a wideout in the first round, St. Louis would be giving up on Brian Quick after one year. I don’t think the front office will do that unless it’s smitten with a particular receiver.
The Rams’ defense is playing great, but they have a couple of areas they need to address. One such spot is the safety position. Craig Dahl must be upgraded.
Draft Tek: NFL 2013 Consensus Mock Draft
16. Taylor Lewan (OT), Michigan
Starting ROT Barry Richardson is a FA in 2013 and starting LOT Rodger Saffold will become one in 2014. According to ProFootballFocus, Saffold is statistically superior to Richardson (cumulative grade of 8.6 versus 2.1): one strategy to minimize Saffold’s contract demands is to move him to ROT and draft a more natural blind side protector, Taylor Lewan, 2012 Rimington-Pace Award winner (Big Ten Top OL).
22. Terrence Williams (WR), Baylor
Starters Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola and slot Steve Smith are all free agents in 2013, and are more quick than fast with no true separation speed. So, what’s left on the roster? 2012 rookies Brian Quick (who isn’t quick) and Chris Givens, plus sophomore Austin Pettis, so if you’re going young add a burner. Terrance Williams motors his 6’2″ frame forty yards in the 4.4 range and recorded 95 catches for 1,693 yards and 11 TD’s last year for Baylor.
Rotoworld: Postseason NFL Mock Draft
16. Dion Jordan (OLB), Oregon
The Rams would be wise to add a third pass rusher that can also play SLB in a four man front. Again, people will read box scores and note that Jordan is not one of the leaders in sacks. That is because he spent so much time in coverage, even against receivers in the slot, where he is very comfortable. Jordan is lean but he covers a ton of ground and is strong on contact.
21 (?). Lane Johnson (OT), Oklahoma
There are plenty of poor offensive lines in the NFL, and the Rams have one of them. This pick may not sit well with all Rams fans, but Johnson has impressed more and more each week. He reminds us of Riley Reiff, with more length. Expect to hear the Sooners’ name more often throughout the process.
CBS Sports: 2013 Mock Draft
16. Jake Matthews (OT), Texas A&M
When healthy, Rodger Saffold has played well at left tackle for the Rams. It is the right side that has been more troublesome. Should Matthews elect to leave A&M a year early, it would be a stunner to see Jeff Fisher not jump at the chance to work with him, considering the memories the coach likely has of Jake’s Hall of Fame father, Bruce Matthews back with the Tennessee Titans and Houston Oilers.
22. Chance Warmack (G), Alabama
Just a few years ago using a top 20 pick on an interior lineman might have seemed silly. The need to protect the quarterback, however, has changed everything. With the Rams having already found their tackle of the future with their own first round pick, Jeff Fisher and Co. can afford to double-down on the offensive line with the 2013 first-round pick acquired from the Redskins as part of the Robert Griffin III trade last year.