With all the mocks out there, Ramblin’ Fan figured we would join the chaos and throw out our own picks for the St. Louis Rams in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. Most major mockers look at the draft through a wide lens, few having actually watched every snap of every game that St. Louis played this season. In our view, the Rams’ needs fall into one of two categories: immediate needs and peripheral needs. With the Rams current roster, there is an immediate need at three positions: safety, outside linebacker, and offensive tackle. With players like Rob Turner and Rok Watkins, offensive guard is a peripheral need, one that should be addressed in the near future, but can be kicked down the road for a bit, if necessary. Similarly, position like tight end and wide receiver might be areas of concern, but St. Louis does have, at least, capable bodies filling for roster spots. Naturally, those could change in the next month, as players at key positions are signed, re-signed, cut, and traded for prior to the draft. But, with the current roster, here is our first crack at the Ramblin’ Fan 2013 Mock Draft…
16. Cordarrelle Patterson (WR), Tennessee
6’2 tall, 216 lbs., 4.47 4o-time, 37.0 vertical
Several analysts have either Alec Ogletree or Jarvis Jones falling into the 20-32 range in the first round, which would be solid for the St. Louis Rams. Jones may be ideally fit for a 3-4 base, he could easily fill the void at strongside linebacker, and has the quickness to stay on the field in coverage, especially on athletic tight ends like Vernon Davis. With that said, my belief is that the Rams will bite on a player like Cordarrelle Patterson at this point in the draft. The one-year product out of Tennessee may get tagged as “raw,” but he did produce in the SEC, both through the offense, running and receiver, and on special teams returning the football. Patterson fills an longstanding need on the outside, likely next to Chris Givens to start the season. However, if Brian Quick continues to progress through the offseason, the St. Louis Rams could move Givens into the slot, giving the Rams a poor-mans’ Roddy White/Julio Jones lineup out wide. If he makes it past Miami in the 12th spot, Patterson will be wearing the golden horns next season.
22. Matt Elam (S), Florida
5’10 tall, 208 lbs., 4.54 40-time, 35.5 vertical
Most in Rams Nation gasp at the thought of St. Louis not taking an offensive lineman in the 1st round. The concensus around the league is that Warmack will be gone by this point in the draft, and that Jonathan Cooper will still be on the board. Clearly, there would be no problems with the Cooper pick, but Fisher doesn’t draft lineman in the first round and there does not seem to be any reason why his draft philosophy would randomly change at this stage in his career, especially at a position of debatable “need” (with Rok Watkins, Rob Turner, and Chris Williams on the roster). A spot with unquestionable need is strong safety, which luckily is the toast of this 2013 class. Vaccaro will likely be gone at this point after he inevitably impresses scouts at this Pro Day. However, as a “true” strong safety, Matt Elam fits the role just as well, if not better. Free Agency could drastically determine the direction the St. Louis Rams go here, but with the current roster, Elam would be a fine selection to fill an immediate, gaping need. According to the NFL.com’s scouting report, one of his “weaknesses” is that he “tries to make the big hit far too often…” I can see Elam walking over to Jeff Fisher on the sideline, “Sorry for hitting him too hard coach!” Who doesn’t want to watch Matt Elam get a free shot at Colin Kaepernick in the open field?
46. Barrett Jones (OL), Alabama
6’4 tall, 306 lbs., [No combine results]
My heart tells me to pull for a player like Kyle Long, who would instantly become a “fan favorite” and kick Barry Richardson to the curb as the starting right tackle. Long is raw, but has the size and athleticism to play either guard or tackle, the versatility that the St. Louis Rams like in an offensive lineman. With that said, you might also see the them pursue a player like Barrett Jones, who is essentially an more dominate, more versatile version of Rob Turner. Jones will likely see a spike in his stock after the Alabama Pro Day, but for now, he is projected as a late 2nd-3rd rounder, with several mocks having him falling into the 50-70 range in the draft (including both Walter Football and Bleacher Report‘s latest mocks). If necessary, Jones could immediately take over the left guard responsibilities, but could be a sleeper pick for the starting spot at right tackle. He lacks the prototypical size, but maximizes leverage and would benefit from playing on the right side, especially with McNeill or Kendricks tacked on the line.
78. Zaviar Gooden (OLB), Missouri
6’1 tall, 234 lbs., 4.47 40-time, 27 bench reps
Gooden has impressive size and put on an eye-popping Combine performance in the “measurable” events, including 34”+ vertical, and nearly 11′ broad jump. While I despise the Combine for assessing 1st-2nd round talent, it is prime time to assess mid-late rounders with the athleticism to be molded into a perennial talent in the NFL. Gooden would need to drastically improve his coverage skills, but plays significantly better in man-to-man than in zone coverage, which will serve him well in a divisional filled with athletic tight ends and in the Fisher defense. He fits the mold for a SOLB, but could move to WOLB as more of a chase-and-tackle player on the backside, putting less pressure on Dunbar to drop in coverage.
110. Gavin Escobar (TE), San Diego State
6’6 tall, 254 lbs., 4.8 40-time (7.07 3-cone, 4.31 20-yard shuttle)
Escobar is considering the far-trailing, 3rd-best tight end in the draft, and didn’t really improve his stock at the Combine, especially after the 4.8 40-time. Luckily, that could push Escobar down the board into the late 3rd-4th round, where he would/should be instantly snatched up by the St. Louis Rams. Escobar is essentially useless as a blocker, but is more than capable of chipping the end or battling with an outside linebacker in the second level. His real assets are his size and hands, which would work nicely in tandem with Lance Kendricks.