When is comes to the offseason in the NFL, there are three iconic figures that stand above the rest in terms of draft analysis. Two of those are locked in an eternal battle for on-air dominance, those being Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. The other is Mike Mayock, currently presiding as the “voice” of the NFL Combine.
Recently, Mayock released his Top 5 position-by-position, pre-Combine rankings, filled with a number of picks that might go “against the grain” of the other analysts boards. For those who covet his opinions, there are several intriguing rankings that should raise an eye brow in St. Louis.
1. Baylor OG/OT Cyril Richardson has dropped to No.5 as his position in the class, trailing Stanford’s David Yankey, UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo and several others. There is no denying that guard is an area of need on the St. Louis Rams roster. Shelley Smith and Chris Williams are both unrestricted free agents, Harvey Dahl is expected to become a cap casualty, and the situation surrounding the Rodger Saffold contract might be the biggest mystery of the free agency period. Yankey and Su’a-Filo are both expected to be borderline 1st-rounders, meaning that the second crop of Top 5 guards should be spread out on Day Two of the NFL Draft. The more these once highly-touted prospects drop, the better the chances that the St. Louis Rams will be able to “steal” a moldable, top tier interior lineman in the 3rd round.
2. Calvin Pryor has usurped Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix on another safety “big board,” which should be music to the ears of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. Sitting at No.13 in the opening round, drafting either prospect would likely be a reach. However, if Pryor continues to be hyped as the “elite” positional player in the class, the Rams might be a bit safer moving down, out of the Top 15, and still snagging their 2014 starting safety in the No.18-25 range. The Rams’ War Room will be awaiting your phone call, New York Jets!
3. Looking for a Cortland Finnegan clone, minus the flag-magnetizing attitude? Jason Verrett is now listed as the No.4 cornerback prospect, being overtaken by Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller. Verrett is a ballhawking, highly-intelligent cover corner that had an almost unmatched eye for getting his hands on the football at the collegiate level. Jeff Fisher has verbalized on numerous occasions that you can never have enough skilled pass rusher or cornerbacks. If Verrett magically falls into the 2nd round, he very well could be sporting the golden horns next season!
4. The only player that might “block” the Rams from stealing an elite cornerback prospect in the 2nd round might be a player who has made a name for himself by being “unblockable.” Ra’Shede Hageman, the Senior Bowl phenom out of Minnesota, is currently listed as the No.4 defensive tackle on Mike Mayock’s positional rankings. With no interior defensive lineman currently being projected to go in the Top 15, Hageman could slip into the No.33-45 range in the 2nd round. Hageman falls in line with the raw, potentially “unstoppable force” type of prospect that Jeff Fisher has coveted in the past. He will certainly be a player to keep an eye on, especially if three other defensive tackles are, in fact, taken ahead of him in April.