As we work our way deeper and deeper in November, talk of the 2014 NFL will slowly start to pick up steam. Yesterday, Ramblin’ Fan opened up the can of worms that is “Mock” drafting, releasing our take on the opening three rounds of the upcoming draft. With the first two picks, the St. Louis Rams finished their defensive jigsaw puzzle, adding the top defensive tackle (Louis Nix) and safety (Haha Clinton-Dix) in the 2014 draft class. They continued into Round 2, under the assumption that Rodger Saffold is our new starting right guard, taking La’el Collins, a potential four-position lineman currently manning the blindside at LSU. In the 3rd-round, the Rams finally picked up a competent, “groomable” backup quarterback, selecting the (likely) three-time National Championship signal caller from the University of Alabama, A.J. McCarron. Now, assuming no trade-back or compensatory picks, here are our mock picks for Round 4 through Round 7:
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE (Iowa) 6’7 tall, 265 lbs.
With at least one Rams’ tight end perpetually listed on the injury report and Mike McNeill not likely to get re-signed at the end of the season, the St. Louis Rams will undoubtedly be looking for someone to add to the depth chart in their hybrid TE/FB slot. While Jared Cook has shown some progression as a blocker in the last couple of weeks, St. Louis truly needs a compete, in-line blocker to help in pass protection and move the pile for Zac Stacy in the running game. Fiedorowicz is as “big bodied” as they come, and has the size and strength to be effective in a variety of ways.
Outside the 20 yard line, Fiedorowicz is nothing more than a tall tree, ready to get chopped down upon first contact. However, at 6’7 tall, he is a handful in the redzone (see 3:40 mark of video); an area that the St. Louis Rams had already been dominating with Sam Bradford under center. More importantly, he is effective as an in-line blocker, and uses his reach and strength well against pass rushers, which is rare for a collegiate tight end.
Alex Neutz, WR (Buffalo) 6’2 tall, 205 lbs.
Assuming the St. Louis Rams don’t take a flyer on some veteran, free agent receiver, they will likely be in the market to finally fill the No. 6 spot in the wide receiver corps. Aside from questionable play calling, the major knock against this young receiving corps has been drops… lots and lots of drops. In fact, Sam Bradford is still ranked 10th in the NFL in “passes dropped,” despite not having played a snap in three and a half weeks. Alex Neutz is the “star” at the University of Buffalo, already hauling in 50 catches and 11 touchdowns this season. He lacks the speed, supporting cast, and “stage” to be considered anything more than a “third day” selection in the draft. However, he makes up for his relative lack of speed with his consistency, ball awareness, and arguably the best “pure hands” in college football. Moreover, Neutz has shown his wares against some top talent this season, posting 15 catches for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns in the opening two games of the season against Baylor and Ohio State.
Unlike Brian Quick, or the prospect of Cordarrelle Patterson last year, Neutz is not necessarily a “project” at the next level. Neutz should be projected as a solid “possession” receiver that could 1) competently fill in a four- or five-player receiver rotation and 2) challenge for a role as a No. 2 receiver down the road. More importantly, his “sure handedness” and open-field blocking ability might rub off on some of the other players on the roster…
Denicos Allen, OLB (Michigan State) 5’11 tall, 225 lbs.
At this point in the draft, you are looking for players that can contribute at both their college position and on special teams. Denicos Allen is a fire-cracker for the Spartans, already recording five sacks and 11 tackles for a loss this season; that is building on three sacks last year and 11 sacks as a redshirt freshman back in 2011. Unless he adds some bulk to his frame, Allen wouldn’t survive in the NFC West as a three-down outside linebacker, nor would he fare well against some of the tight end hybrids in coverage, who would have a three or four inch height advantage. However, with 4.40 speed and dangerous pass rushing moves, Allen could be extremely value on obvious passing downs, as well as on special teams as a gunner on punt team and kickoff.
Cody Riggs, CB/FS (Florida) 5’9 tall, 179 lbs.
Riggs will likely return for his senior season at Florida after having some difficulty adjusting to his new spot at safety this year. However, should he declare for the draft in 2014, Riggs likely projects as a solid slot corner in the NFL, and could certainly be effective on special teams. With Cortland Finnegan’s contract being the “elephant in the room” this offseason, the Rams may take a shot at someone in this upcoming draft to pair with last year’s 5th-rounder, Brandon McGee.