Roughly 24 days and 7 hours from now, a bell will strike, signalling the start of the 2014 NFL Draft. For some teams, like the St. Louis Rams, this particular draft will play a crucial role in the success of the organization in the very near future. The roster is already teetering on the brink of “winning,” having inched closer and closer to a .500 record over the last couple of seasons. Now, with the return of a handful of key “missing pieces” from last season, Jeff Fisher and Les Snead will try to plug the remaining holes on the depth chart with the most talented prospects in the class. With those additional pieces, another year of experience under the young rosters’ belt, and a little bit of luck, the Rams can (hopefully) make a push for the NFC West crown and claw their way into the postseason for the first time in nearly a decade.
One reason that those in Rams Nation are heaping extra pressure on this year’s draft is that this will, presumably, be the last time that the St. Louis Rams have a slot in the Top 5 of the draft order for a long, long while. Thanks to the Washington Redskins’ ineptitude and some horrendous, late-game performances by Robert Griffin III, St. Louis was hand-delivered the No.2 overall pick in the class on a silver platter. How they will use that pick has been debated, ad nauseam, for the last four months.
However, the most recent rumor, which has to be taken with a grain of salt, has placed the St. Louis Rams as one of the “frontrunners” for one the top wide receiver prospects in the class; and his name is not Sammy Watkins.
Right now it looks like three teams are the frontrunners to make some sort of move for Evans. If the St Louis Rams trade out of the second spot, and they will make every effort to do as much, Evans would be a target assuming they stay in the top ten. Two teams selecting in the middle of the first frame who are very high on Evans and would consider trading up to grab him are the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens. -Tony Pauline, Draft Insider
The connection to Mike Evans is not particularly shocking, given the Rams obvious need for playmakers in the all-too-often stagnant offense. In fact, we at Ramblin’ Fan have made the argument, on numerous occasions, that Mike Evans is the “better fit” in St. Louis, even over the consensus top receiver prospect in the class. However, much like the “who should be drafted” topic, the “why they should be drafted” conversation has been worn out equally as much in Rams forums. Instead, we’ll ask the question: Where could the St. Louis Rams draft Mike Evans, assuming he is their prime target?
As the quote points out, Les Snead and Jeff Fisher (or anyone other front office, for that matter), are likely not enthralled by the idea of taking Mike Evans with the No.2 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The underlying theme of the race for Evans is “trading,” which, for the Rams, means trading down in the order.
So, how far could they drop?
As we touched on in an earlier piece about Mel Kiper’s “sensational seven” prospects, the lowest point that draft mockers currently have Mike Evans going is No.13 overall; ironically, to the St. Louis Rams. However, assuming the rumors are accurate, waiting that long might be a bit risky, with the Ravens sitting at No.17 and the Eagles waiting at No.22. The price to move from the high-middle to the low-middle in the draft is typically not that costly, likely netting the incumbent team a handful of Day 3 picks or, at best, a late Day 2 selection (depending on how far of a jump the ‘other team’ is wanting to make). So, to put that neatly, it would not be inconceivable for the Eagles or Ravens to jump ahead of the Rams at No.13 to take Mike Evans.
However, that might not be the issue, given some recent events that transpired in the NFC South. More specifically, the departure of Mike Williams from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has left some believing that Lovie Smith will be targeting Evans with their opening selection the draft, at the No. 7 spot in the order. If that is genuinely the case, then the Philadelphia Eagles are likely out of the mix. In the new-CBA era, there has never been a trade from outside the Top 20 into the Top 10. The closest any team has come might be the St. Louis Rams-Buffalo Bills trade last season, where the Rams gave up their 2nd and 7th round picks (as well as swapping 3rd rounders; in benefit of the Rams) to move from No.16 to No.8 in the draft order. Considering that, in order for either the Ravens or Eagles to move into the Top 7, they would have to “set the record” for the largest jump in the modern-CBA draft era.
Setting the No.7 spot on the “floor” for selecting Mike Evans might not be that unthinkable. For the St. Louis Rams, there are plenty of trading options above that slot in the order, including the Cleveland Browns (4), the Oakland Raiders (5), and, the most likely partner, the Atlanta Falcons (6). To some, the Top 5 might seem like a “reach” for the arguable second-best receiver in the class. However, most reputable, mainstream scouts have Mike Evans classified as a “blue chip,” inarguable Top 10 prospect.
Moreover, while Sammy Watkins might be at the top of the board for the vast majority of analysts, scouts, and pundits, it does not mean that he is at the top of the board in every War Room around the NFL. Every team has their own way of ranking players, based on some formula of “fit,” need, and projected value. No one, outside of a select few in the St. Louis organization, has any idea how the actual Big Board looks in Rams Park. If Mike Evans is sincerely the Rams “top target” and they are able to yield a sizable return for the No.2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, there should be nothing stopping from them from snagging Sam Bradford another Top 10 weapon for the 2014 season.
Tags: St. Louis Rams