If you are a fan of the NFL, today is one of the biggest days on your yearly calendar. The NFL Draft marks the “start” of the 2014 season, as each team attempts to fill their needs and replace players lost in free agency or to retirement. Today also marks the official end of the mock drafting season! However, that doesn’t mean Ramblin’ Fan won’t give you last look…
This weekend, the Fansided.com network and the National Football Post teamed up to push out the ultimate, final Mock Draft of the season. Editors from 29 teams (those who actually have a first round pick) played the role of GM, making each selection as our team got thrown “on the clock.” To make the selection even sweeter, both the editors and the guys at NFP evaluated each selection. So, with the 16th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select…
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
With the departure of Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, there is a gaping hole in the St. Louis wide receiving corps. Patterson might be one of the most physically gifted players in the draft and can contribute from nearly any spot on the field. “Readiness” and “rawness” have been the major knocks against Patterson, but if the St. Louis Rams genuinely want to jump-start their stagnant offense, they will have to take a “risk” to gain this potentially franchise-changing “reward.” Plus, having that extra first rounder doesn’t hurt.
Russ Lande: In order for the Rams to take the next step, quarterback Sam Bradford needs to continue to develop. The Rams already signed left tackle Jake Long to improve their pass protection and now need to acquire weapons for Bradford. Patterson is a rare physical specimen who can change games when he has the ball in his hands and gives Bradford an explosive, big-play weapon.
The rationale behind this pick is simple; Patterson is the most athletically gifted player in the NFL Draft, in terms of size and ability once the ball is in his hands. From Mardy Gilyard to Greg Salas, the St. Louis Rams have always gone the “safe” route, selecting a player that was highly productive in college, who was polished enough to be a solid possession receiver in the NFL…. it hasn’t worked. Both the upside and downside of Patterson is that no one necessarily knows what you are getting with the pick. On one hand, you have an inexperienced, poor-route running receiver, with limited collegiate production. On the other hand, you have a player with a “high ceiling ” that showed flashed of complete dominance with the ball in his hands. Patterson has the frame of a true, No.1 wide receiver, with the speed and quickness to be a deep-ball threat, and can contribute as a utility player in the offense and as a return man on special teams. St. Louis has been playing it “safe” for the last half decade. It’s time to take a risk!
With Cordarrelle Patterson off the board, the St. Louis Rams must now shift their focus to the defensive side of the football, where there are glaring holes at outside linebacker and safety, as well as some needed depth on the interior of the defensive line and at cornerback. So, with the 22nd pick, the St. Louis Rams select…
Matt Elam, SS, Florida
If the St. Louis Rams want to compete in the NFC West, an upgrade at the safety position is a must. With Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell gone, there are currently two openings in the deep secondary. Fisher has hinted that Darian Stewart will likely get the nod at one of those spots, meaning the Rams need a hard-hitting, run-stopping strong safety in the draft. Matt Elam is a tad undersized, but hits like a linebacker. He is excellent in the box and can also be moved around in blitz packages. Physicality and effort are underrated attributes; Elam will bring them both to an already talent-filled secondary
Russ Lande: If St. Louis is going to continue rebuilding, the team needs to improve their secondary. While Matt Elam lacks ideal height, he is an instinctive defender who flies around the field making impact plays. He would have some issues in pass coverage, but would bring great energy, intensity and toughness to the Rams’ defense.
Matt Elam might be the only Top 5 safety in this draft that has the attributes of a strong safety. Craig Dahl was abysmal last season, hence allowing him to walk, even with the inevitable, cap-casualty release of Quintin Mikell. Matt Elam is an immediate upgrade at the position, providing Jeff Fisher and newly-acquired defensive coordinator Tim Walton with an adequate coverage safety that can lay the jackhammer blow in the running game, and make a quarterback pay if he chooses to start running around like an ostrich; looking at you Colin Kaepernick. Both Jonathan Cyprien and Kenny Vaccaro have gotten significant marks against them as tacklers, with some scouts throwing out phrases like “arm tackler,” “poor pursuit angles,” and “hits too high”… we saw plenty of that from Craig Dahl. Matt Elam would be a welcome addition to the St. Louis Rams secondary, uniting with another former (sort-of) University of Florida Gator, Janoris Jenkins.