This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Premier Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The St. Louis Rams somehow were pretty competitive in 2013 despite playing half the year without starting quarterback Sam Bradford. Blessed with a strong running game and an elite pass rush, they went the distance with the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in one game, and pushed their opponents to the limits in various others.
In the end, the Rams were still just a mediocre team in 2013, however, and will aim to get better in 2014. Rumors have swirled all off-season that adding a new big target for the passing game could do the trick, although GM Les Snead has continued to say wide receiver is not a pressing need.
Whether or not the Rams go after a wide receiver early in this year’s draft will be one major storyline to watch, as will when/if they bring in a young passer to push Bradford.
One thing is for sure; the Rams need more talent on both sides of the ball if they want to have any kind of a chance in the insanely difficult NFC West.
Considering their major needs and player value in the 2014 NFL Draft, let’s mock the first four rounds of the draft for the Rams:
Round 1 (Pick 2) – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
A lot has been made about the Rams at the two spot. They will clearly field trade offers up until the last second if they have to, but they’re also not going to trade just to trade. Unless they get the exact deal they want, Les Snead and co. will be perfectly content grabbing an elite difference-maker.
With Jadeveon Clowney shaping up as the likely top pick in this year’s draft, that difference-maker right now appears to be an offensive tackle. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins is a real possibility, while the Rams could also opt for offensive tackle Jake Matthews. Robinson is more athletic and has more overall upside, though, so if they go tackle I think he’s their man.
Tackle looks like the most logical route at the two spot, as it gives a somewhat shaky line tons of flexibility. For one, Jake Long is returning from a knee injury and Rodger Saffold has also had some health issues. Landing Robinson could have the Rams using him and Long at either tackle spot, with Saffold pushed into guard. This would dramatically improve their starting five on the line and in turn would give them more depth in the event Robinson didn’t start right away, as well.
Round 1 (Pick 13) – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Rams need a safety – badly. T.J. McDonald might be worth a look at one safety spot, but they could honestly consider going after two new safeties. Regardless, they for sure need one, and it has to be a good one. Clinton-Dix was at one point far and away the top safety in this draft class, and at the very worst he’s a top-two option at the position. St. Louis has a terrific pass rush, an improving run defense and some talent at corner. They need a stud safety to make some plays and help the run defense get even better. Clinton-Dix is very balanced and should be able to help both against the run and pass in year one.
Round 2 (Pick 44) – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Everyone wants the Rams to go for the sexy pick and take a wide receiver with one of their two first rounders, but with how deep the position is this year, they don’t really have to. Several receivers could fall to them, and they don’t even need an explosive guy. They just need a big target who can be a reliable possession guy and give them another target in the red-zone. St. Louis also brought in veteran receiver Kenny Britt, so the need should get pushed back to round two.
If they wait, a guy like Jordan Matthews should still be around and would be a fantastic addition. Matthews is probably one of the most underrated prospects in the entire draft, and is almost certainly the most underrated receiver. Blessed with good size, solid ball skills and excellent fundamentals, he fills a need and is an extremely safe pick – especially in round two.
Round 3 (Pick 75) – Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
There continues to be a good amount of chatter about Sam Bradford and whether the Rams want to extend him. Either way, they need to bring in some competition at the quarterback position. It’ll be great if Bradford stays healthy and becomes the franchise passer St. Louis drafted him to be, but what if he gets hurt again or just doesn’t progress? It’s time for a true backup plan.
Savage is a huge passer with a rocket arm and nice athleticism. He has a long ways to go when it comes to accuracy, decision-making and consistency, but he’s an awesome project just dripping with upside. If they bring him on and Bradford kills it, he’s at the very worst an excellent trading chip going forward. At best, he ascends over Bradford and becomes the new franchise passer.
Round 4 (Pick 110) – E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
The Rams cut cornerback Cortland Finnegan, so naturally they need to add talent to their secondary. Gaines is a very solid corner with some upside and he fills a major need. He could compete to start right away, but would ideally slide in as the third or fourth corner in the Rams’ secondary. He’s not the only quality corner that could be readily available in the fourth round, but he’s probably one of the more well known defensive backs that could last that long. St. Louis could always try to trade up and get a corner with a little more natural talent.
When it’s all said and done, the Rams are going to want to accomplish two things: make sure Bradford is protected better and land a safety that could potentially bring their defense from very solid to elite. They’re very close to taking a leap and competing for the NFC West title, but things need to start falling their way. Having a great draft and nailing on their first five selections would be a terrific start.
Tags: St. Louis Rams