With the loss on Monday, the Washington Redskins have officially hit rock bottom in the NFL, with their 2014 1st Round pick sliding up into the Top 5 of the upcoming Draft. Even the remainder of their schedule has recently shifted from ‘cake walk’ to ‘moderately difficult,’ with both the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys hitting their stride in the latter portion of the season. Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, it is doubtful that the Washington Redskins could climb out of the Top 10, which is good news to a St. Louis Rams’ squad that is currently “in the mix” with seven other 5-6 teams and five more teams that fall in the .500-range (including the 5-5-1 Green Bay Packers).
The beauty of the situation is that the Rams are now in a win-win situation for the remainder of the year. In seasons past, games played at this point in the season were a essentially a Catch-22: If the Rams won, they moved down the pecking order in April; if they lost, well… they lost, which is frustrating regardless of the situation! With the Redskins tanking their season, the involuntary, cynical thoughts of “I hope the Rams lose so we can draft higher” are likely suppressed to mere murmurs in the back of the minds of Rams Nation. Considering this young squad is averaging 40.0 points over the last two games and is still well within the “Wild Card hunt,” not having to worry about the draft order is a wonderful thing…
Realistically, with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams have plenty of options. Unlike last year, this draft class is chalk full of Top 10, potent “franchise quarterbacks.” Better yet, the majority of teams that will likely be picking ahead of the
Redskins Rams (i.e. Houston, Jacksonville, Minnesota) will all be fighting over those handful of top tier selections, which will leave St. Louis Rams with their choice of elite prospects that rank tops among their position in the draft class.
The Falcons are currently the lone exception, with Matt Ryan not likely to be replaced any time in the near future. However, Atlanta has far more holes than the St. Louis Rams, and will likely go with the “Best Player Available” option, or simple trade down. While there will undoubtedly be many potential suitors in the trade market hoping to snag a Jake Matthews-type, it is difficult to speculate on any draft day trades at this point in the season. However, assuming the Atlanta Falcons sit tight, they will likely swing for one of three players in the Top 5: DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, OLB Anthony Barr, or OT Jake Matthews.
The St. Louis Rams already have, arguably, two “franchise” defensive ends on their roster, one of which is building a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year. Thus, selecting Clowney makes little-to-no sense for the St. Louis Rams, who already run three or four players deep in their rotation. Should the Rams stay in the mix within the Top 5, the obvious choice would be UCLA outside linebacker, Anthony Barr. However, much like the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams would more than likely look to pull out of the Top 5, trading back with a team desperate for one of the “elite” quarterback prospects. In that scenario, it wouldn’t be unfathomable to imagine St. Louis receiving, at least, another 1st-rounder in the 2015 draft. Better yet, should players like Derek Carr or Johnny Manziel impress their way into the conversation for top overall quarterback in the Draft, the Rams could be looking at doubling-up on their Robert Griffin III trade, taking a future (2015) 1st rounder and some additional Day 1 or Day 2 picks from this and/or future drafts.
As this season progresses, it is looking more and more like the St. Louis Rams came out as the “winners” in that blockbuster deal nearly two seasons ago. Worse, at least for Washington, it appears as though the Redskins may end up helping out the Rams more than they had originally thought possible…