The Rams are all but done in free agency. The Rodger Saffold signing was a lucky break (we hope), but GM Les Snead and the St. Louis front office have otherwise remained relatively silent this offseason. According to an all-too-familiar tradition for Rams fans, it’s time to look ahead to the upcoming NFL Draft.
When it comes to May’s draft, there have been a few recurrent talking points surrounding the Rams. Will they trade down from the second pick? Will they stay and take an offensive tackle? Better yet, according to some fans, will they stay and take Sammy Watkins?
With all the discussion around the second pick, it is easy to overlook the fact that the Rams also have an excellent foothold in the middle of the first round, in the No.13 slot. It is the pick that will determine whether the Rams have a successful draft. It is this pick that the team must use to ensure that at least one of the holes on the roster is filled.
Matt Smith, at NFL.com, recently published a mock draft in which he sent Auburn OT Greg Robinson to the Rams at No.2 overall, freeing them to snag Texas A&M WR Mike Evans at No.13. Many Rams fans would surely lament the distinct lack of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, should the Rams go this route, arguing that safety is the thinnest position on the team’s depth chart.
It’s Mike Evans and the offense that we should like to focus on, however. We have all heard the comparisons to Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson. Jesse Reed at BleacherReport writes that Evans is the clear-cut number two receiver in the draft. Clemson WR and Orange Bowl star Sammy Watkins might be a better player; and Rams fans might even prefer to see him in Blue and Gold. But, the Rams have a glaring need at offensive tackle. Greg Robinson is, far and away, the best option at the position. He might even be better than any of the free agent offensive tackles. The Rams should take the chance to land such an incredible prospect and run with it. The picks between two and thirteen will certainly feature a lot of quarterbacks, and, almost assuredly, Sammy Watkins. It it no sure thing that Evans will fall to thirteen, but if he does, the Rams should snatch him and count themselves winners of the first round.
Mike Evans doesn’t think he’s Vincent Jackson. Mike Evans thinks he’s Brandon Marshall.
“I get a lot of Vincent Jackson comparisons. That’s a great comparison. But I think Brandon Marshall. He’s vicious after the catch, big receiver who can go up and get it, catch it real well.”
If the Rams can land Evans, fans will be given a chance to watch him prove he’s right. At the Combine, the Aggies star ran an unofficial 4.47 40-yard dash. The important thing to realize, though, is that, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Evans can run faster.
Mike Evans lumbering too much through that 40. Left time on the track. He tried to use his upper body too much to stabilize & create power
— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 23, 2014
Does this mean he will come to the NFL and instantly run like Tavon Austin? No, but it is a clear sign that the potential for improvement is there. Evans is only 20 years old, and when he begins working out with NFL players, he will learn and continue to grow.
Pairing up the “insane” vertical jumping ability, long arms, and body size of Evans with the likes of Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Jared Cook could provide the Rams’ offense with exactly the spark it needs.
Watching highlights of Evans, one thing became instantly clear. The guy is open even when he is covered. Even against the tough SEC secondaries he faced throughout his redshirt sophomore season, A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel looked to Evans time and time again, throwing the ball into double and triple coverage with the utmost confidence that Evans would deliver.
There is no guarantee that the draft will play out like this for the Rams. Greg Robinson and Mike Evans are highly coveted players. But, if it does, the Rams should consider themselves lucky and begin working on an offensive game plan for Sam Bradford and his new toys.
Because Bradford has so much to prove this year, the Rams’ offense around him should be operating at full capacity. There is no better way to do this than simultaneously upgrading the offensive line and the receiving corps.
Mike Evans might not be the incredible prospect that Sammy Watkins is, but he will fit into the Rams’ offense perfectly, providing ball skills, an excellent ability to pick up yards after-the-catch, and a deep downfield threat to contrast with the small, quick receivers that make up the rest of the Rams’ depth chart.