October 27, 2012; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson (34) and running back Jared McGriff-Culver (38) prepare to enter the field with their teammates before kickoff at Faurot Field. The Missouri Tigers defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 33-10. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams 2013 Draft Preview: Lane Johnson And Sheldon Richardson

Les Snead stated on ‘ESPN Fast Lane’ that the he will spend “zero percent prepping for the draft and free agency on quarterbacks”. His comments weren’t solely directed at Sam Bradford, they were also targeted at the back up position. Kellon Clemons shouldn’t be on the Rams roster for the 2013 season. The reason why he was put on the roster in the first place, was because he was familiar with Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. Now with both Bradford and Austin Davis familiar with the offense, Clemons’ job is now done. Austin Davis was a promising sight in the 2012 pre season and showed he’s more than capable to be a back up for Sam Bradford.

Two players will be analyzed weekly (one from defense and one from offense) based on their current form in college football.
This isn’t a mock draft. This is simply an analysis of high valued players that will enter the 2013 NFL draft, so that readers are more knowledgeable of each high draft prospect come draft time.

Lane Johnson (6 foot 7, 305 pounds)
Tackle (Oklahoma)
The Rams have been trying to get both sides of the line working for the past six years. With the defensive line showing that it has what it takes to be one of the best in the NFL, the attention now shifts solely to the offensive line. Roger Saffold, Harvey Dahl and Scott Wells are a strong force on the line, but two gaping holes are still in need of filling on the offensive line. Fixing the right side will be the focus of this offseason.

Lane Johnson started at the right tackle position throughout the whole 2011 season and a little bit into the 2012 season, before being switched to the left side. Johnson is definitely the most athletic linemen in this year’s class. His 40 time is expected to be around 4.7 – 4.8, not bad for a 305 pounder. Johnson is still a raw prospect, but he has all the physical tools to continue to develop into a solid starter at the next level. Johnson would be a great fit for the Rams at the right tackle position. Jeff Fisher could turn his raw talents into real NFL talent.
Draft range – mid/late first round.

Sheldon Richardson (6 foot 4, 295 pounds)
Defensive Tackle (Missouri)
It will be interesting to see how the Rams will take care of William Hayes. Hayes played a big contribution to the success of the Rams defensive line last season, raking up seven sacks as a situational down player. Hayes stock will grow in the free agency, so don’t expect to see Hayes in the Rams colours, as he will be looking for a starting job and starting money. Ram fans are a little tired seeing big defensive linemen waltz up on stage to shake Roger Goddell’s hand. With the 16th pick of the draft, the Rams will almost certainly not take a defensive linemen. They have too many holes to fill before they start worrying about upgrading strengths. We all know Jeff Fisher and Les Snead love big intimidating defensive tackles and the Rams essentially have a luxury pick to experiment with. Do the Rams take a shot at Sheldon Richardson if he’s still lingering at the 22nd pick?

Mark my words, With all due respect to Star Lotulelei and Shariff Floyd, Sheldon Richardson is the best defensive tackle in this years draft class. You couldn’t have asked for a better defensive tackle coming out of college. He’s got great size, a fantastic first step and thrives in the pass rush. Having a more than noticeable burst off the line, Richardson finds himself in the back field more than often. Don’t think for one minute that players are able to run away from him in the back field. Richardson has amazing closing down speed and an incredible knack to hunt down players once in the backfield. He had a stand out year in the SEC with 75 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 3 PD and 3 FF. He will be the best defensive tackle in this year’s draft class and if he’s around at 22, why not take a shot at a future pro bowler?
Draft range – Early/mid first round.

Follow @davebarber92 for more updates

Follow the links to previous Ramblin Fan Draft Previews:
Week 1      Week 4     Week 7    Week 10   Week 13   Week 16
Week 2      Week 5     Week 8    Week 11   Week 14   Week 17
Week 3      Week 6     Week 9    Week 12   Week 15   Week 18 

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