In the NFL, the signing of a single player in free agency can drastically effect the outlook of a team heading in the draft. For the St. Louis Rams, that reality may have been fully realized over the last couple of days, as interior lineman after interior lineman dropped from the depth chart. In a 48 hour period, the Rams went from being “two deep” at guard to nearly empty; cutting Harvey Dahl, losing Rodger Saffold and Chris Williams in free agency, and waiting for Shelley Smith to finish his three-team tour on the East Coast.
However, is a dramatic “mishap” with the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams re-signed Saffold from the clutches of the Black Hole, and appear primed to re-sign Shelley Smith, assuming he leaves Miami without signing a contract. So, with the interior of the Rams offensive line no longer the “main issue” headed into May, how will the Rams approach this talent-filled draft class?
With the No.8 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select…
Mike Evans, WR (Texas A&M)
Given the Oakland Raiders current situation at offensive tackle, they may have no choice but to trade up to the No.2 spot in the draft to guarantee the selection of Greg Robinson, the nearly consensus top lineman prospect in the class. With that move out of the way, and under the reasonable assumption that the Texans, Jaguars, and Browns all target a quarterback with their selection, the St. Louis Rams will be sitting at No.5 overall with both Khalil Mack and Jadeveon Clowney on the board. While Atlanta might have the connection to Les Snead, the Minnesota Vikings could easily put together the best offer to jump up the board and snag their “top defensive player” the class. The double trade down should leave the St. Louis Rams with plenty to smile about heading into Day 2 of the 2014 Draft, and even more to smile about looking ahead to 2015!
With Sammy Watkins going to the Tampa Bay Bucaneers at No.7, the Rams are in prime position to take Mike Evans, the receiver quickly making his way into the Top 10 on most reputable analysts’ “Big Boards.” Evans was extremely impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine, showing off impressive straight-line speed to pair with his unmatched catch radius and “high-point” catching ability. The other half of the Johnny Manziel Show at A&M fills an immediate need on the outside for the St. Louis Rams, with 1) his ability to make catches down the field, 2) the speed and athleticism to be “open,” even with undeveloped separation skills, and 3) his ability to block on the outside for the Chris Givens and Tavon Austins of the world.
Evans is the receiver the Rams have been searching for since Torry Holt left for Jacksonville!
With the No.13 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select….
Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S (Alabama)
While the Rams might dabble with potential trade suitors for the No.13, the fear of potentially missing “their guy” in the No.15 to No.18 range might force Les Snead and Jeff Fisher to stay in the Top 15. After missing out in the 2014 free safety sweepstakes, the St. Louis Rams now can take the top free safety prospect in the draft class; HaHa Clinton-Dix. The rangy ball-hawking defensive back in ideal toy for Gregg Williams aggressive defense. The former Crimson Tide will pair nicely with T.J. McDonald in the deep secondary and provide the over-the-top support that Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson severely lacked last season during the Rams safety drought. Considering the pass rushing talent in the Rams front-seven and the anticipated “arrival” of the St. Louis offense this coming season, Clinton-Dix should see his fair share of opportunities to make an immediate impact in 2014.
With the No.30 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select…
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG/OT (UCLA)
While retaining Rodger Saffold should ease doubts about the St. Louis Rams offensive line in the upcoming season, it shouldn’t stop the Rams from solidifying that line with the top interior line prospect in the draft class. Measuring in at 6’4 tall, 307 lbs., Su’a-Filo is easily the most “pro-ready” of the guards in the 2014 Draft. As we mentioned in our previous breakdown of the UCLA prospect, he is…
…wonderfully put together, with excellent upper body strength, solid athleticism and flexibility, and impressive initial quickness and footwork. Su’a-Filo is an instant plug-and-plus interior lineman, who has demonstrated the ability swing out to offensive tackle in a pinch, which he did for much of last season at UCLA. The 2013 Morris Trophy winner is as “sure-fire” as you’ll get in the 2014 class, and with the coaching of offensive line guru, Paul Boudreau, and more-than-adequate talent around him on the line, Su’a-Filo could be a fixture in the Rams interior for the next decade…
However, the tricky part for the Rams might be moving into a position to secure the selection. With Zane Beadles out and Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware in, the Broncos will likely turn their search in the opening round to filling the gaping void in front of Peyton Manning. The easiest way to bypass that Denver hurdle would be a deal with the always trade-hungry San Francisco 49ers, who sit one spot above the Broncos in the order. Moving from No.44 to No.30 might cost the Rams a pick or two, but it is well worth it to finally “complete” the Rams offensive line puzzle. Moreover, the bounty gained in the trades down from No.2 should ease the pain of forking over a handful of mid- to late-rounders.