Draft Needs To Be About the Division
It's all about getting some edge on division foes. Right now, the West is all about physical aggressive defenses with big fast defensive backs who kill teams if they get behind and on long yardage situations.
The Rams could go after every stud WR in this draft, and the next one, and it won't help them against the west.
Like Seattle and the Niners, the Rams need to have a good running game, and a QB that doesn't make mistakes. The Rams have the QB in Bradford, but because he is no runner, the HUGE key for the Rams is the offensive line.
They have Long in place as the anchor, but after that it's sketchy, especially if Saffold leaves.
Look at the NFC West lines:
Seattle has Russell Okung a high #1 pick, the Niners have THREE high picks starting on that line.
If they play to their capabilities and add a couple good cornerbacks, the Rams defense can stay with the less than stellar Seattle, Arizona, and SF offenses, especially if they can contain the running QBs.
However, they will always struggle badly against those team unless they beef up that offensive line. Chris Williams and Joe Barksdale have shown promise, but top grade competition is a must.
That's why my first draft list for the Rams, eliminating the DE, QB, RB, TE, and WR from the equation, starts out with the two guys who would have been top ten picks last year, has they come out as expected.
Jake Mathews and Taylor Lewan did nothing their senior year to make them drop at all on draft day, and the guys they were rated as equal or better than last year, went first, second and fourth overall in 2013.
My first Rams board has 10 O-linemen out of the top 20 players that fit the Rams needs best.
After watching Anthony Barr against USC, I don't see him as a great fit, and not worth taking over Matthews or Lewan.
If the Rams pick high enough with their own pick, they could look at the depth at OL and wait till then to grab one, but clearly the two top guys are by far the best at this point.
Neither will be on the board past the first eight to ten picks, barring some injury. That is pretty set in stone.
With Washington just losing their best shot at winning another game in 2013, the Rams look to pick third or fourth.
If they do look at deal down scenarios, I simply don't see them going down too far to get one of those tackles, especially Matthews.
With little cash to spend on starting caliber linemen, it is a MUST that the Rams get two high in this draft, and if they do let Wells and Dahl go (hopefully they will restructure instead), they better look at more line help later in the draft as well. Wells especially should be retained if he redoes his deal to make him more reasonable.
Dahl's health is still an issue.
Without a very good line, the Rams offense will always struggle against those division foes, who's head coaches are not going anywhere soon.
WITH a great line, Sam Bradford can show why he was drafted first overall, even with the skill guys already on the team.
The draft depth at OLB and CB will allow the Rams to add good ones in round two and even three, and they can get a big run stuffing DT at some point later as well.
Finding a free safety seems like a must as well, but perhaps a veteran can come cheaply as a free agent there.
The Rams need to make this a big boy draft at the top, and my guess is that Les Snead, seeing the direction the team needs to take, will look at this draft, a very weak one overall, and use it to bolster that O-line, especially if Saffold won't stay and play guard.
Re: Draft Needs To Be About the Division
Great post. I think the Rams drafted for our division last year first with Austin, who would spread out the stingy defenses, and also with the Ogletree pick, identifying the read-option as a must-contain in the NFC West.
While we're still figuring out the best way to consistently utilize Austin effectively, Ogletree seems to have stepped right in and fixed the lack of speed we had in our linebacker group. The read-option seems to have fizzled out compared to last year, but Ogletree has seen no shortage of other opportunities to shine, including a great ability to strip the ball. We haven't really had a presence like that since Atogwe was here.
I'm absolutely on board with our FO going after two lineman early on. I'd love any combination of T, G, FS, CB with our first 4 picks.