Tag Archives: St. Louis Rams

MID-SEASON LOOK: RAMS DRAFT NEEDS

The Rams' offense has sputtered so far this season, despite top free-agent signings like TE Jared Cook.

The Rams’ offense has sputtered so far this season, despite top free-agent signings like TE Jared Cook.

BY LANCE N. POIRRIER
@IBleedBluNOrang

The bar was set very high for the 2013 Rams, but due to a lack of continuity and an unfortunate visit from the injury bug, the Rams are in their usual disappointing form. The Rams seem to have a great base to build off of come 2014, but they’ll need some help along the way.  With the addition of head coach Jeff Fisher the Rams seem to have their defense and how it operates down to a science. But the St. Louis offense is lacking serious production which is upsetting considering the money they put into top free agent OT Jake Long and TE Jared Cook.

The Rams’ 2014 draft should focus on the offensive side of the ball.  With their own pick and the final first-rounder from the RG3 trade with the Redskins, the Rams have the opportunity to add some serious help on offense.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The Rams offensive line as a whole has been rather disappointing considering the expectations brought on with the additions of veteran guard Harvey Dahl, former first-overall pick Long, and the top choice of the 2nd round in 2009 Rodger Saffold. The Rams need to focus on adding a quality center, as well as another guard or tackle.

With the possibility of the Rams having two high picks in the first round, offensive tackles like Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews or Michigan’s Taylor Lewan are not completely out of the question. Another option for the Rams later in the draft would be my top-rated center in the 2014 draft class, Hroniss Grasu from Oregon. The Rams need OL help if they want to get the most out of QB Sam Bradford.

The Rams need a legitimate #1 WR, and Vandy's Jordan Matthews has the size/speed combo to be just that.

The Rams need a legitimate #1 WR, and Vandy’s Jordan Matthews has the size/speed combo to be just that.

WIDE RECEIVER

Rams’ rookie sensation Tavon Austin was my favorite prospect of the 2013 draft class, and last week’s performance against the Colts should tell you why.  But for the Rams to truly get the most out of an electric slot receiver like Austin, they need to add a prototypical #1 wideout; someone around 6’2″ – 6’4″ and 220 pounds to really draw some focus away from Austin and Cook. With the Rams having two high picks in the first round they could easily spend one on such a wide receiver such as, USC’s Marqise Lee or Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, either of whom would be ideal in St. Louis and could really open up their rather sluggish offense.

RUNNING BACK

The Rams thought they had struck gold last year with 7th-round pick Daryl Richardson, but it appears he’s fallen into a sophomore slump this season with minimal production, and even losing his starting job to rookie Zac Stacy. Stacy is a serious option for the Rams moving forward but he comes with an injury history that’s followed him into the NFL.  Some guys the Rams should consider on day two of the draft are Arizona State’s Marion Grice, UCF’s Storm Johnson, or Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde.

QUARTERBACK

The Rams may also consider drafting a quarterback in 2014 with current starter and hopeful franchise centerpiece Bradford entering the final year of his rookie deal.  It seems OC Brian Schottenheimer prefers to have a QB who can make quick reads and stay inside of the pocket, even in the face of pressure.  2014 draft prospects like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron may be the perfect fit in St. Louis should the Rams want to spend a high pick on a QB.  If the Rams were looking for a developmental-type passer they may consider North Carolina’s Bryn Renner.

Safety is the only glaring need on the Rams' defense, and solid options like Louisville's Hakeem Smith should still be available in the middle rounds.

Safety is the only glaring need on the Rams’ defense, and solid options like Louisville’s Hakeem Smith should still be available in the middle rounds.

SAFETY

The lone blemish on St. Louis’ outstanding defense is the play of inexperienced safeties. Again, the Rams could spend one of their top first rounders on a renowned college safety like Alabama’s Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix or wait until later in the draft and target guys like Ohio State’s C. J. Barnett or Louisville’s Hakeem Smith.

CORNERBACK

The Rams may also consider adding some youth at corner to challenge current stater Cortland Finnegan, and push Janoris Jenkins, who’s struggling in his sophomore season. With CB help not being a direct need the Rams could wait until the 3rd round or later, leaving them with such players as Oklahoma’s Aaron Colvin or Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste, both of whom could excel in Fisher’s pressure defense.

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Chiefs Moving Up for Tannehill?

Rumors are starting to circulate that the brass in Kansas City aren’t incredibly committed to Matt Cassel as a franchise quarterback.  This has obviously started even more rumblings about their intentions heading into the draft, and those rumblings are starting to swirl around the possibility of trading up from their #11 overall selection in the first round to take Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential scenarios the Chiefs could be looking at:

Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill

1. Trading up to #5 (Tampa Bay) – This would be an on-the-clock type of situation, because the Browns are the keystone of this scenario.  The Bucs will need to see if Alabama RB Trent Richardson is still on the board before wanting to trade down from #5, and with the Browns also being strongly linked to the Tide runner, they will have a huge bearing on what the Bucs end up doing.  The Browns are also linked to Tannehill, however, which makes them even more involved setting off this scenario, because if they do take Tannehill at #4, this scenario obviously becomes moot.  The Bucs stake in all of this is that if Richardson is off the board, and if they’re not completely sold on LSU CB Morris Claiborne, they will be looking hard to a trade partner.  Their particular targets are likely Boston College LB Luke Kuechly and Alabama S Mark Barron (who becomes of even more interest to them following today’s release of Tanard Jackson).  Trading down to K.C.’s pick at #11 would allow them to stay ahead of the teams most likely to grab those two players (Seattle at #12 for Kuechly, Dallas at #14 for Barron).

2. Trading up to #6 (St. Louis) – This scenario is likely if the Browns take Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon at #4, and the Bucs take Richardson at #5.  With their top two targets off the board, the Rams would likely be willing to trade down, and could still get a shot at the next-best WR (Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd), or perhaps a top pass-rusher (North Carolina’s Quinton Coples).  For Kansas City, this deal would still get them ahead of the Dolphins, who are the most popular choice for where Tannehill is likely to end up, absent any trades.

3. Trading up to #7 (Jacksonville) – Again, each of these scenarios are about the Chiefs getting ahead of Miami, who are the strongest candidate to take Tannehill if things remain as they are.  Jacksonville makes sense as a trading partner because they, much like the Rams, are looking for help at receiver and also an impact pass-rusher.  Floyd and Coples, as well as South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, could all still be on the board at #11, should they strike the deal with the Chiefs.  Iowa T Riley Reiff is also a possible target at #11 for the Jags.

Just like anything in the draft universe this time of year, it still remains to be seen how valid these rumors are.  If they are, however, look for one of these three scenarios to take place on draft day.

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Vikings, Browns Hold Keys to Draft

The entire NFL universe is quite certain who the first two selections in next month’s NFL Draft will be.  To the same degree, we are uncertain about where things will go from there, and the floodgates to it all will be opened by the teams who hold the next two picks: Minnesota and Cleveland.

USC T Matt Kalil

At #3, the Vikings have plenty of options, but also plenty of needs.  They could definitely use an anchor at left tackle to protect sophomore QB Christian Ponder, at USC’s Matt Kalil is clearly deserving of such a high selection.  However, the Vikes also have a glaring need at cornerback and wide receiver, making LSU CB Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon equally viable options.  Who they select will determine the direction the rest of the draft takes.

After the Vikings decide which hole to fill, the Browns will have the same decision to make at #4.  Cleveland would prefer Minnesota to take Kalil, since they Joe Thomas is already entrenched at the left tackle spot for the Browns.  That would leave Claiborne and Blackmon available, and while Cleveland has more of a need at wide receiver, Claiborne’s overall talent will definitely merit consideration at that spot.  Also in the discussion at that point will be Alabama RB Trent Richardson, following Peyton Hillis’ departure from the Dawg Pound.

The following picks (Tampa Bay, St. Louis) will pick up whichever of those players falls to them, which isn’t exactly the worst problem to have.  It’s very likely that those four players (Kalil, Claiborne, Blackmon, Richardson) will be selected 3-6.  The only question will be, in what order?

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