It’s hard to believe that the 2013 NFL season is finally over which means for the Rams rookies, there first NFL season is in the books. They say it takes three years to fully analyze a draft class, but we will take a look at this year’s draft class anyway, grade each player’s season performance, and see if the Rams would have gone in a different direction if they knew what they know now.
The Class and Grades
WR Tavon Austin: B-
OLB Alec Ogletree: A-
S T.J. McDonald: B
WR Stedman Bailey: B+
OL Barret Jones: C-
CB Brandon McGee: C+
RB Zac Stacy: A+
Don’t get me wrong, wide receiver Tavon Austin did make some plays, and some that got called back. Point being Austin still has a lot to prove in 2014 that he was worth that number eight pick.
Linebacker Alec Ogletree lead the team in tackles which was a title that was previously held by James Laurinaitis the previous five seasons, he was also third in the league in forced fumbles. Ogletree was a steal at the time of the draft, and he is a steal after the fact. The Rams got a good player in Ogletree.
Safety T.J. McDonald spent most of the season injured with a broken leg, but the games he did play, he played pretty well. The Rams got a pretty good safety in McDonald in the third round. Adding a top safety in the 2014 draft will only make McDonald better.
Wide receiver Stedman Bailey, who was the teammate of Tavon Austin at West Virginia, turned out to be a pretty good pickup for the Rams. While Austin was hurt, Bailey came in and made plays at receiver while also making plays on special teams all year. Bailey proved that he can be a solid receiver and deserves a chance to start next season.
Offensive lineman Barrett Jones didn’t do a lot in 2013, but that doesn’t mean the Rams aren’t grooming him for the future. Jones did plays some special teams, but it will be interesting to see Jones once he gets a chance on the offensive line.
Cornerback Brandon McGee got some playing time at cornerback in Cortland Finnegan’s absence and made played some special teams. McGee graded out negative in pass coverage, but another year of development and another offseason should help him.
What can you say about running back Zac Stacy. This guy could have been one of the biggest steals in the draft considering what he did. Stacy almost hit 1,000 yards after coming in week five and gave the offense the spark it needed in the run game to get the offense going. The Rams found a steal in the draft to replace former Rams running back Steven Jackson.
What Would The Rams Had Done Differently
If the Rams knew what they know now, I think they’d be a little more tentative about trading up to grab wide receiver Tavon Austin. Austin made plays, but not enough to earn the right of the number eight overall pick.
However, I still think the Rams do it. Austin will be good moving forward, especially with Sam Bradford at the helm. Even without Bradford, Austin was the only rookie inside the top ten to earn a positive grade on pro football focus. Not to mention the trade gave the Rams the pick in the third round to take T.J. McDonald.
The Austin pick can be questioned at this point, but it has only been one season, and with another full offseason and now knowing what to expect, Austin could break out in 2014.
I think the Rams stick with everybody else that they took as well. Ogletree has turned into a really good player as well as McDonald, Bailey and Stacy. At this point I don’t see a player taken in the fifth round that clearly outplayed McGee for the Rams to take somebody else and I think the Rams have plans for Barrett Jones.
This doesn’t even begin to mention the Rams undrafted rookies like Ray Ray Armstrong, Benny Cunnungham, and Cody Davis, who all look to have some sort of a future with the team
Evaluating players after only one season is difficult let a lone an entire draft. However, grading the Rams 2013 draft after the first season, Id have to give it a B+. The Rams came away with some nice steals as well as decent players for the future. We’ll see where this class grades out after 2015, but at this point, it’s looking pretty good.