Way-Too-Early 2015 NFL Draft Preview: St. Louis Rams Potential Targets


Nov 8, 2014; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) calls an audible during the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

In the world of St. Louis Rams fandom, it is never too early to peek towards “next year’s” NFL Draft. After losing Sam Bradford (again) in the preseason after an odd fall versus the Cleveland Browns, many believed St. Louis’ dreams of capturing the all-elusive NFC West crown were all but gone in 2014. They were right. Not only have the Rams struggled offensively with Austin Davis attempting to run the show, they lost more key pieces along the way, including Chris Long, Jake Long, and on-the-verge-of-breaking-out Brian Quick. Despite playing arguably the NFL’s most treacherous schedule, to this point, the Rams have somehow managed to squeak out three wins, two coming against division rivals. But, with only Oakland, New York (Giants), and Washington to look forward to on the schedule, there is little, if anything at all, to get excited about for this season as a Rams fan, assuming you are still holding playoff aspirations as an end goal.

However, the NFL is a gift that is always giving, even if that means borrowing some happiness from 2015 to get through the doom and gloom of November and December. That gift happens to be the NFL Draft, where the “answers” for every struggling franchise, idealistically, are merely waiting to be selected. Unlike many teams that will enter the draft with unrealistic, Andrew Luck-esque expectations, the St. Louis Rams are genuinely a team with only a handful of immediate, pressing needs that must be addressed in the offseason. In this way-too-early segment, we’ll take a look at a handful those spots, and the top prospects at each one.


You cannot win in the NFL without a quarterback. The Rams


had one, but, sadly, could not keep him on the field long enough to make an impact in the Jeff Fisher era. Shaun Hill is a top-tier backup, but is obviously not a viable long-term opinion. Austin Davis had his shot to take the reins, but essentially threw himself out of his lone chance at a starting spot in the NFL. Now, the Rams will turn their attention to the NFL Draft; a Draft that should have two, if not more, elite prospects.

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon (Top 10)

2. Jameis Winston, Florida St. (Top 20)

3. Connor Cook, Michigan St.  (1st-2nd Round)

Free Safety

Last week, fans saw the St. Louis Rams strengths and potential in the secondary. EJ Gaines looks like the “steal of the draft” in the sixth round. Janoris Jenkins continues to develop as one of the best man-to-man cover corners in the league. Trumaine Johnson, when healthy, was the potential to be a Top 15 cornerback, with a unique combination of size and speed. Mark Barron looks to be the “perfect fit” in Gregg Williams’ nickel-linebacker spot. T.J. McDonald played All-World as a box-safety. The only glaring weak spot has been safety or, more specifically in this case, the free safety spot. Unlike Jeff Fisher who demanded “interchangability” in his backend defenders, Williams’ defensive scheme calls for a true centerfielder in the deep secondary. Rodney McLeod has showed over the last two seasons that he is not the man for that job. Until the Rams “fix” that glaring hole, the defense won’t be able to capitalize on their should-be top ranked defensive front. That will happen this offseason…

1. Gerod Holliman, Louisville (1st-2nd Round)

2. Derron Smith, Fresno State (2nd-3rd Round)

3. Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (2nd-3rd Round)

Outside Linebacker

The trade for Mark Barron has significantly lessened the need for another top-flight outside linebacker. The former Alabama standout brings the physicality of a Jo-Lonn Dunbar-type linebacker, but adds a splash of athleticism and short-yardage coverage ability to the mix. However, considering the Rams continued struggles in the second-level to consistently stop the run, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Williams take a shot at an outside linebacker early in Day 3 of the Draft.

1. Zach Hodges, Harvard (3rd Round)

2. Jake Ryan, Michigan (3rd-4th Round)

3. Terrance Smith, Florida St. (3rd-4th Round)