Nov 30, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy (15) gets the fans pumped up against the Florida State Seminoles during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Editor’s Note: This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The St. Louis Rams have been quiet during free agency this offseason. While many fans may take that as a lack of dedication toward getting better, it’s still entirely possible the Rams have a plan in place to get better from within and from the 2014 NFL Draft.
They’ve already retained right tackle Rodger Saffold in an effort to make sure their already shaky offensive line doesn’t get any worse, and could even bring in former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt. Per the Rams, there is a 50% chance they do just that, and if so, it could help erase their need for a big go-to target in the passing game.
There are other position upgrades on their offseason wish list, however, and without a Britt signing (and perhaps even with one), St. Louis could still be in the market for a big bodied wide receiver come May.
A lot can change between now and May 8th, but the Rams’ top needs likely won’t. The Rams were pretty competitive last year despite playing without star quarterback Sam Bradford for half of the season, which has many thinking a solid draft could push the team to the next level.
With that in mind, let’s take a stroll through the first three rounds of this year’s draft and see how the Rams could possibly improve their roster to help them take that next step in the brutal NFC West:
Round 1 (Pick 2) – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Atlanta Falcons have reportedly made it known they are interested in trading up, which should mean as long as the price is right, they’ll land this pick in a trade. However, even if that trade does go down, the Rams would only slide down to the sixth pick in the draft. At either spot, it’s very likely they take one of the top two tackles – Jake Matthews or Robinson as predicted here. You could go back and forth all day about which tackle is the better prospect, but Robinson appears to be the one with more upside. If the Rams stand pat at the two spot, you have to also consider Sammy Watkins, Jadeveon Clowney or even a quarterback, but their offensive line really needs attention. Grabbing a guy like Robinson does two things. First, it provides depth and insurance for Jake Long (knee surgery), and once he’s fully healthy it allows the line to get stronger by sliding Saffold to one of the guard spots. A shaky trench unit would suddenly become a strength.
Other options: Jake Matthews (OT – Texas A&M), Sammy Watkins (WR – Clemson), Jadeveon Clowney (DE – South Carolina)
Round 1 (Pick 13) – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Whoa, no wide receiver? I know, there has been a ton of chatter about the Rams needing and getting a new big target for Bradford, but with the heating stock of guys like Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Marqise Lee, it’s entirely possible all three are gone before the Rams pick here. Even if one is still available, though, it’s also arguable that safety is a far greater need. The Rams currently only have one guy who is even serviceable in T.J. McDonald, while even he can be upgraded upon. Clinton-Dix is an experienced, balanced safety who should be able to make an instant impact and help shore up a struggling secondary.
Calvin Pryor is also a very realistic option at safety, and could actually end up being the preferred option due to his hard hitting and size. Either way, if the Rams aim to upgrade at safety in round one, they should succeed in doing so by taking one of the two top safeties with the 13th overall selection.
Other options: Mike Evans (WR – Texas A&M), Marqise Lee (WR – USC), Calvin Pryor (S – Louisville)
Round 2 (Pick 44) – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
If the Rams do pass on a wide receiver with their first two draft picks, there’s a very good chance they’ll pull the trigger on one in round two. While they might go with need over luxury early, they will find it much harder to pass on this secondary need with such a deep wide receiver class. Matthews isn’t explosive or the greatest athlete, but he’s extremely fundamentally sound and offers good size and reliable hands. If the Rams are looking for a steady possession receiver who can move the chains and be a factor in the red-zone, they’ll find one here.
Other options: Odell Beckham (WR – LSU), Dion Bailey (S – USC), Marcus Roberson (CB – Florida)
Round 3 (Pick 75) – Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
St. Louis had a pretty rough season trying to stop the pass last year and now Cortland Finnegan is gone after the Rams released him. It’s time to add some talent and depth at the corner position. St. Louis had one of the best pass rushing defenses in the league in 2013, but could not consistently cover and make plays in the secondary. Purifoy has the talent to lock his man down and also carries some serious upside. He’ll compete to start right away and if he pans out the Rams could quickly be a very balanced defense.
Other options: Craig Loston (S – LSU), Antonio Richardson (OT – Tennessee), Zach Mettenberger (QB – LSU)
In the early going of this year’s draft, it’s all about tackle, wide receiver and safety for the Rams. Ideally, St. Louis will be able to take care of all of those three main needs with their first three selections, and then can even attack the corner spot opposite of Janoris Jenkins with their fourth pick (in round three). Just like that, the competitive but still mediocre Rams could suddenly evolve into a highly competitive, winning franchise. It won’t be easy to remain consistent and take a monster leap in a division with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, but at least the Rams will have more pieces they need and will be headed in the right direction.