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Thread: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

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    Barry Waller is offline Registered User
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    2014 Draft - An Early Look

    2014 NFL Draft - An Early Look


    Actually, Thanksgiving isn’t exactly “early”, not for guys like Rams GM Les Snead and his scouts at least. They’ve been looking at the top players in next spring’s draft for quite awhile, and are now looking harder at athletes who might not be getting as much ink right now, but fit what the team needs.

    When this 43 year veteran draftnik begins to look at a draft, the first thing examined is whether this is a classic type draft pool, or if it’s gonna be a real mix it up year. So you may ask, what does that even mean.

    What it means is whether the top 5 to 10 picks are going to be dominated by quarterbacks, because need meets talent available at the position that year. When you have years with one or even no passers going really early, it makes for some very unpredictable first rounds. When there are a number of good passers available in the top 15, you often see more trades than normal as well.

    The 2014 draft, because of the large number of top 50 players who play quarterback, and the needs at the top of the draft in Houston, Jacksonville, Oakland, Cleveland, Tampa, and Minnesota, is looking to rival the John Elway/ Dan Marino draft, at least in terms of guys who go in round one, not in pro potential.

    Unfortunately, some of the underclass passers may decide to wait a year, with this draft so strong, so we won’t know exactly how those early mock drafts will hold up until January, when they must declare. I suspect there will the usual number of underclassmen coming out this year, which was very high in 2013.

    After eying the obvious elephants in the draft, the QBs, I focus next on the crop of guys paid to kill those passers, legally of course, in judging the makeup of early round one. Teams love to draft positions where a high pay check right away isn’t a league high for that position before a real game is played.

    That means passers, offensive left tackles, cornerbacks, and defensive ends. Of those, it seems hardest to find true great pass rushers who can also play on running downs. It’s why so many teams have gone 3-4, since then you don’t need this freak of nature type athlete, of which the Rams have at least two.

    Without the QB “battle” for who will go first, this would the Jadeveon Clowney and everyone else draft, and even with injuries, the South Carolina stud will go off the board as soon as a team needs something other than a QB. If he somehow fell to the Rams with the pick from Washington, imagine the ransom of picks Snead would be looking for to trade down.

    After Clowney, the 4-3 DE crop is just OK at this point, though guys can make big moves later at that position, even in March. That’s not necessarily good for the Rams, since they have no real need at that position. The more who go top 15, or top 50, the better for the Rams.

    Teams, including the Rams, have no problem going high for a defensive tackle either, especially if he has pass rush potential, like Michael Brockers. The Rams rally could use another starting DT, with Langford a good bet to go as a salary cap cut. Unfortunately, this looks to be a really weak class at DT. The seniors that looked to have some real promise as underclassmen, are not having so great years.

    No doubt, a couple guys who might not have even been that productive, but whose workout numbers are off the charts, will get into that top 15 due to need. Hopefully the Rams won’t reach really early for their need. The best DT, Louis Nix, is a huge, maybe too huge, run stuff type, and may be best suited for a 3-4 team.
    LSU has some guys, and so does Florida, who will probably be the guys moving up before the daft.

    It goes without question that two to four offensive tackles will be taken in the top 15 picks, and at least one in the top five. It’s usually one of the guys who stayed in school rather than be a top pick as a junior, and this year is no exception, with Jake Mathews and Taylor Lewan almost sure to be top 10 picks. Could they be so much the safe pick that the Rams might go early there? Even with Joe Barksdale playing well, a guy like Mathews could surely move inside for awhile, and play his pop’s old position.
    Every year, the top couple receivers and cornerbacks get pushed into the top five to ten, even when there are passers like this year. The lack of defensive ends and defensive tackles high up this year will no doubt cause four or five of these “skill” guys to become hot commodities on draft day.

    It’s not a great year for cornerbacks at the very top of the draft, much like the last couple years. There is no Patrick Peterson here. However, the Rams do have a big need for a top corner, and you can’t usually get those later in the draft, unless you get lucky. Whether any of these top corners can be the physical guy Jeff Fisher would desire remains to be seen.

    Like last year, there are some quite talented receivers in the 2014 draft, but none that truly stand above the crowd of really good talented pass catchers available. I highly doubt that the Rams will use a first rounder, or even second rounder on a receiver , and I don’t see any “can’t pass up”, once a decade players at the position in this draft.

    The position that could prove to have more high attention than most years is linebacker, a position the Rams also see a big need to bolster with a difference making type player. This year, you have two linebackers, Anthony Barr and C.J. Mosley, who could buck recent trends and become top ten picks. Others, like Khalil Mack, and Ryan Shazier could find themselves in the top 15.

    The Rams have that extra pick in round one, so going for a classic top 15 position might be something they can go away from, which puts safety Haha Clinton-Dix in the mix for the Rams, more likely with their own #1. At this point, he is the ONLY safety deemed worthy of high draft status.

    As usual there are no running backs who look to crack the top 15, and it’s not a good year at tight end, which the Rams don’t need, or guard, which they do, at least as far as obvious round one talent. Same for centers.

    Here is my early positional rating by position

    QB TOP 15 - A Depth - A
    RB TOP 15 - F Depth - D
    WR TOP 15 - C Depth - B
    TE - Top 15 - F Depth - D
    OT - Top 15 - B Depth - B
    G/C - Top 15 -D- Depth C

    DE - Top 15 - C - Depth C
    DT - Top 15 - D - Depth C
    OLB - Top 15 - B - Depth B
    ILB - Top 15 - F - Depth C
    CB - Top 15 - C - Depth C
    S - Top 15 - D - Depth D

    Barry Waller

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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    You list guard as a Rams' need. What do you think will happen as regards Rodger Saffold? Will he get paid to play tackle for another team, or is there a chance the Rams try and keep him given his versatility, and apparent success playing left guard?

    Do you believe Harvey Dahl has played his last game as a Ram? Thanks Barry!

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    Barry Waller is offline Registered User
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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    The Rams need to cut some salary, because they have $20 million in raises coming to guys they must keep.
    That means Langford, Finnegan, Dahl, and Wells are all probably going to get cut, and possibly one or more will re-sign at a cheaper rate.

    As far as Saffold, it's all about whether any team is willing to pay LT money for him, and if he is willing to be a highly paid guard, nut not TOO highly paid.

    Williams is also a free agent, so the guard need is surely there, but I doubt they go there the first three picks looking at this crop. They could take a tackle and move him inside awhile if the value is there early.

    They still have to sign Barksdale to a new deal too, if he really is the guy at RT.
    Barry Waller

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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    Barksdale looks to be signed through 2014 at this point, and I can't predict if he'll ask for a new contract at the end of the season.

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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    Good write-up, Barry!

    As you pointed out, a lot can change between now and the actual draft. But it's fun to look at things now and try to get a sense of what to expect.

    If the Rams are picking in the Top 5-6, either from the Redskins' pick or their own, I really think the value of that pick is going to be on the offensive line. Drafting a guy like Jake Matthews not only gives the Rams immediate talent to upgrade the unit, but security over the long haul.

    Like Ogden did in Baltimore, Jake could start out filling the hole at left guard before eventually replacing Jake Long at left tackle. Or you could plug him in on the right side and maybe move Barksdale around like they have Saffold. There are certainly possibilities to make it work, and I really wonder if Jeff's experience in Tennessee where Jake's dad played will cause him to gravitate towards Jake like he did TJ McDonald.

    I feel the second biggest need on this team is in the secondary, either for a legitimate starting cornerback or for a starting safety opposite McDonald. It's unlikely the Rams will find either position of good value with their first pick in the first round, but depending on where that second pick lands, there may be some options.

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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Waller View Post
    The Rams need to cut some salary, because they have $20 million in raises coming to guys they must keep.
    That means Langford, Finnegan, Dahl, and Wells are all probably going to get cut, and possibly one or more will re-sign at a cheaper rate.

    As far as Saffold, it's all about whether any team is willing to pay LT money for him, and if he is willing to be a highly paid guard, nut not TOO highly paid.
    Great analysis, Barry. I agree that this draft doesn't sync up well for us early, given what we need. I do disagree with 2 of your proposed cuts. Finnegan and Wells are not going anywhere in my mind as there is too much guaranteed money coming their way, making cutting them expensive, but as you say they will probably get restructured. Finnegan is also a Jeff Fisher guy and Jeff is nothing if not loyal. He's also a veteran on the field and in the locker room which means something.

    As for Wells, he's having a good season and I just cannot see us blowing up the whole interior of our O-Line when things seem to be settling in nicely and the play is fairly harmonious. He's also been healthy which bodes well for him over Saffold. Dahl may be a cap casualty which I can see given his age.

    As for our first pick, I agree Les may trade down to garner more picks later. I claimed in another thread that OLB may indeed be a possibility for us early. But its early in the process and underclassmen have yet to declare and the Combine hasn't taken place, so much to speculate over for the next 6 months.

    Go Rams!

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    bigdogg2834 is offline Registered User
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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    Quote Originally Posted by mde8352gorams View Post
    Great analysis, Barry. I agree that this draft doesn't sync up well for us early, given what we need. I do disagree with 2 of your proposed cuts. Finnegan and Wells are not going anywhere in my mind as there is too much guaranteed money coming their way, making cutting them expensive, but as you say they will probably get restructured. Finnegan is also a Jeff Fisher guy and Jeff is nothing if not loyal. He's also a veteran on the field and in the locker room which means something.

    As for Wells, he's having a good season and I just cannot see us blowing up the whole interior of our O-Line when things seem to be settling in nicely and the play is fairly harmonious. He's also been healthy which bodes well for him over Saffold. Dahl may be a cap casualty which I can see given his age.

    As for our first pick, I agree Les may trade down to garner more picks later. I claimed in another thread that OLB may indeed be a possibility for us early. But its early in the process and underclassmen have yet to declare and the Combine hasn't taken place, so much to speculate over for the next 6 months.

    Go Rams!
    Actually, after this season we won't owe hardly any guaranteed money to Finnegan or Wells. In fact, cutting Finnegan would free up about 7 Million. Both of their contracts were set up pretty similar where all most all the guaranteed money was paid in the first two years of the contract.

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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdogg2834 View Post
    Actually, after this season we won't owe hardly any guaranteed money to Finnegan or Wells. In fact, cutting Finnegan would free up about 7 Million. Both of their contracts were set up pretty similar where all most all the guaranteed money was paid in the first two years of the contract.
    I certainly defer to you as far as those contracts go. I was assuming based on the length of the contracts that there was substantial guaranteed money left to be paid. That's good news. But I stand by my supposition that Jeff Fisher will want Finnegan on this team next year and possibly beyond. Of course his performance will need to get back to where it was last season. It's early to speculate, but his eye injury may have had a role in his diminished performance this season. If it's not going to return, then all bets are off. Of course a restructuring of his deal may be a sidebar to him staying.

    Cortland Finnegan and Scott Wells give this team some veteran leadership. I applaud all the youth and am eagerly awaiting their emergence. I have complete faith that Jeff Fisher knows what he needs to get us to become a consistent winner. Kevin Demoff is a very smart guy when it comes to contracts, they will figure something out. I understand that this is a business and things happen, but Jeff didn't bring those guys here in 2012 so he could toss them out after 2 seasons. There's a reason players love to play for Fisher. He demands loyalty and commitment and pays it back. If their performance drops then that's a different matter. The next 5 games will tell us a lot about our team and what takes place in the off-season. Thanks for providing that insight bigdogg 2834.

    Go Rams!
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    bigdogg2834 is offline Registered User
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    Re: 2014 Draft - An Early Look

    Quote Originally Posted by mde8352gorams View Post
    I certainly defer to you as far as those contracts go. I was assuming based on the length of the contracts that there was substantial guaranteed money left to be paid. That's good news. But I stand by my supposition that Jeff Fisher will want Finnegan on this team next year and possibly beyond. Of course his performance will need to get back to where it was last season. It's early to speculate, but his eye injury may have had a role in his diminished performance this season. If it's not going to return, then all bets are off. Of course a restructuring of his deal may be a sidebar to him staying.

    Cortland Finnegan and Scott Wells give this team some veteran leadership. I applaud all the youth and am eagerly awaiting their emergence. I have complete faith that Jeff Fisher knows what he needs to get us to become a consistent winner. Kevin Demoff is a very smart guy when it comes to contracts, they will figure something out. I understand that this is a business and things happen, but Jeff didn't bring those guys here in 2012 so he could toss them out after 2 seasons. There's a reason players love to play for Fisher. He demands loyalty and commitment and pays it back. If their performance drops then that's a different matter. The next 5 games will tell us a lot about our team and what takes place in the off-season. Thanks for providing that insight bigdogg 2834.

    Go Rams!
    No problem. The contracts were set up very smart. Paid them their guaranteed money while we had it so that if we got in a bind later, we have flexibility. For example, Finnegan's 50 mil. contract had 27 mil. guaranteed. 5 mil. signing bonus plus his salary for the first two seasons pretty much took care of the rest. Wells was very similar.

    Totally agree with all your points. I really hope that Finnegan's eye is what was really holding him back this season and he can come back strong next year. I think a restructure wouldn't be a bad idea as you stated. Wells has played pretty well lately and I would love to keep him around if he keeps it up.

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