Around this time last year, the state of the Rams organization was in total disarray. Coming off a disastrous 2-14 season, a complete overhaul took place of players and coaches.
There were only a handful of jewels on a team, while a fair amount of the roster was toting wasted draft picks, inevitable busts, and wide-eyed, inexperienced coordinators who did not fit the billing of an NFL head coach.
As we fast-forward to the 2013 offseason, the Rams organization made quick and productive work of last year’s house cleaning. The hiring of head coach Jeff Fisher is changing the complexion of this franchise by molding it into a perennial playoff team led by a blend of established, credible and up-and-coming coordinators and assistant coaches.
St. Louis practically needed an upgrade at almost every position last year.
That’s where Les Snead made his mark as the Rams’ new general manager. He sought after impact starters in free agency and received instant contribution from early and late-round draft picks.
St. Louis is at a calmer stage this go-round, but the word ‘calm’ is seldom used to describe the NFL offseason. As the Rams look to reload and revamp their roster, they must address their needs, or do they?
In a report Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Snead was quoted saying there are “wants,” not “needs.”
Sometimes when you ‘need’ something, you become desperate… When you’re desperate, you can make bad decisions.
That was evident of the 2011 Rams draft class. Steve Spagnuolo was known for his work of developing premier pass rushers from his time in New York. The drafting of DE Robert Quinn has worked out well thus far as he eclisped double-digit sacks in his second season, but St. Louis missed on a bulk of their selections.
Out of eight of the Rams 2011 draft picks, only three remain on the team.
- Robert Quinn
- Lance Kendricks
- Austin Pettis
- Greg Salas
- Jermale Hines
- Mikail Baker
- Jabara Williams
- Jonathan Nelson
Quinn, Kendricks and Pettis are the only ones left on the roster from this class. While Pettis has a fairly consistent contributor last season, the previous regime pressed for receivers and selected the same type of wide out(possession receivers) in back-to-back rounds; Pettis and Salas. In contrast, Snead selected the big-body, athletic wideout, Brian Quick, in the second round and homerun threat. Chris Givens. in the fourth round.
In the report, Snead also said,
It seems like every year, the quote is: ‘It’s not a deep draft… I take the opposite approach. I’ve never seen a thin draft. This is your chance to go improve your football team. You take the glass half full.
Stemming from his time in Atlanta, Snead always looked for the missing piece or the best player available as the director of player personnel. This argument is supported by the Falcons bold move to jump from 27th to the 6th overall to select highly coveted WR Julio Jones.
You can interpret the first quote by Snead in a number of ways, but here is what I am taking from it.
If you have ‘wants’ and not ‘needs,’ I see the Rams’ re-configuring their cap space and having another successful offseason in the free agency. Steven Jackson has been a pillar of the organization and Danny Amendola has evolved into a productive, underrated receiver in the league, but I can see a scenario of neither returning.
The age of 30 is known as the “point of no return” for running backs in this day and age in the NFL. Giving Jackson the option to void the final year of his contract shows the organization understands that they are at least two or three years away from becoming a legitimate championship contender. From his individual success, he deserves to test the market as a free-agent. If Jackson doesn’t return, this bodes for more cap room.
Amendola is Sam Bradford’s security blanket, but over the past two season, he has not remained healthy. This organization is looking to become younger and athletic in their skill positions. Losing Amendola would be blow to an already bare receiving core, but the NFL is a business and moves have to be made. I see the Rams becoming players in free agency, contrary to popular belief. Dumping and reconstructing burden contracts will provide more cap room and the hiring of Tim Walton as defensive coordinator may lure Lions’ free agents to St. Louis at a cheap price.
The consensus needs or wants from Rams’ fans are safeties, wide receivers, offensive linemen, and outside linebackers. This draft is loaded at safety, although if Kenny Vaccaro isn’t there at 16, I don’t see the Rams taking a safety in the first round unless they are smitten with one. Alec Ogletree is the top OLB prospect, but I don’t see the Rams taking a linebacker in the first round. I believe St. Louis’ number one need is offensive linemen. I can’t imagine a scenario where they won’t draft a linemen with one of their first round picks.
If I stay on board with my interpretation of Snead’s comments, he and Fisher have said they have plans to make the offense more dynamic. If that is the case, what if WR Cordarelle Patterson is sitting on their doorstep at 16, do the Rams take him? What about their second 1st-round pick, would St. Louis draft a hybrid tight end like Zach Ertz or Tyler Eifert to pair along side Lance Kendricks?
I don’t see this as a likely scenario for the Rams, but this definitely counts as a ‘want’ for a team that has aspirations to become more fluid and explosive on offense.
I think it’s safe to say all Rams’ fans can agree to that want.