My first mock draft
Mind you, this is extremely preliminary and is subject to change based off free agency, Combine rises and disasters along the way.
That being said, let me start by highlighting the teams' needs.
1) WRs, WRs, WRs
- Brandon Lloyd likely will be gone from St. Louis, following Josh McDaniels to New England. That said, even WITH Lloyd, the Rams were hurting at WR and in dire need of a go-to-guy.
I look at the roster and see incumbents that are good situational, #2 or slot guys, but noone that jumps out as that true #1. Sam Bradford has made the most of a choppy situation there, but sooner rather than later, they're going to have to get him a true #1 to work and grow with.
In general, the Rams need a huge boost on offense, finishing 32nd in points scored, 31st in total yards and 30th in passing yards. One can only imagine how bad they would have been without Steven Jackson, so it all falls on the passing game and need for help at that WR spot.
2) Left Tackle
- I think Rodger Saffold has shown ability to be a pretty good offensive lineman in his brief career. I also think he's much, MUCH better suited at RT than LT. By drafting an LT, they can move Saffold to a more comfortable and better suited position, while either moving Jason Smith to guard, the bench or out the door and fix two birds with one stone.
Honestly, the Rams have entirely too much money invested in Sam Bradford to have him continue to get killed out there. They have to do something this off-season to upgrade the line, otherwise he's going to wind up being the second coming of David Carr.
3) Run clogging DT/NT
- The Rams big weakness on defense was their run defense, finishing 31st against the run. I'm sure I don't need to remind everyone of the Dallas - DeMaco Murray nightmare, which accentuated how badly the Rams need help in this area. Help is a must here, no matter how much offense the Rams add, if they continue to allow teams to abuse them with the run, they'll continue to struggle.
Looking at what they have, Gary Gibson is a hard worker, but he certainly can be upgraded and Fred Robbins will be 35 next season. Being perfectly honest, if there was an Nmdokong (sic) Suh or a Nick Fairley in this draft, I'd be highly advocating the Rams look hard at that position. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you're in the "improve the offense" crowd, there's not. However, make no bones, Jeff Fisher loves his big run stuffers and will be sure to address this weakness at some point.
- Assumably, Ron Bartell's return will help the Rams, who surprisingly finished in the top ten in passing yards. However, with that, they also lacked a lock down guy and when they got beat, they got beat.
Even with Bartell returning, he'll be 30 next season and you may want to start looking for a young gun to run with. To me, you can't have enough young cover guys.
- James Laurinaitis is a beast and truly one of the franchise's most invaluable players. 31 year old Ben Leber and 32 year old Brady Poppinga? Not so much.
I do like Chris Chamberlain's effort and hustle, and wouldn't object in the least to seeing him inserted into the lineup regularly. I also think Robert Quinn is better suited for the OLB role in Jeff Fisher's defense, so it wouldn't stun me to see him moved there either. However, I also believe another could and should be added just in case.
6) Young HB
- As mentioned above, I shutter to think how poor St. Louis' offense would have been without Steven Jackson, who has easily been this team's best offensive player since the "Greatest Show On Turf" left town.
On the flipside, he's 29 and has had a TON of carries, and taken a fair amount of abuse in his NFL career. None of us can assume he's going to do this forever. While I think it'd be completely asinine to spend a first on Trent Richardson like Walter Football indicated they would, I also wouldn't be too upset to see them spend a mid rounder on a HB to groom, or a scat, quick back to split up the load with Jackson to preserve his career, and add some oomph to a staggering offense.
With that stated, here's my 2011 Rams draft, as of January 14.
I am, and will likely continue to be on the fence between he and USC LT Matt Kalil from now until the day of the draft (or the Combine if one clearly distinguishes himself as being more worthy of the pick).
However at this venture, the Rams' WR core is putrid and lacking to the extent where I'm fully advocating them not only draft Blackmon here, but also pick up one of the Saint WRs (Colston or Meacham) to improve the core as a whole.
Upon watching the Fiesta Bowl, Justin Blackmon was clearly the best player on the field. That says a fair amount, considering he entered the contest sharing the same field with Andrew Luck, who is widely expected to go #1 overall.
From the minute this kid has stepped on the field for the first time in Stillwater, he's been a man amongst boys, quickly making the Cowboy faithful forget about Dez Bryant.
His skill set is exceptional. He's got great hands, immediately becomes one of the ten best route runners in the NFL from day 1 and has deceptive speed (think Larry Fitzgerald). While teams tend to lean more towards the bigger WR (6'4-up) and Blackmon stands at a generous 6'1, I still feel his intangibles are top notch and he immediately improves a stagnant offense and makes Sam Bradford the happiest man on Planet Earth.
- Thompson was a consistant, and steady run stuffer during his time at Clemson and would be an obvious huge addition to a crappy run defense.
LT also could be in play here, but by looking at the draft, the Rams still can snag a decent one in Round 3 (see below) and work with that. The pickings are slim at DT for true run stuffers, and they're ill afford to continue to let teams kick the crap out of them there.
- Reynolds is one of the, if not the best, pass blockers in the draft. While he's not flashy and at 24 he's a few years older than most hitting the draft, he's also NFL ready, and as steady of a pass protector as they come. I've seen plenty of his games, and he's never shown me signs of weaknesses.
He may never be a Pro Bowler, but he'll be a reliably good LT for many years to come.
- Tandy is a gritty ball hawk who always finds himself where the football is. Last year, he finished top ten in the nation in picks, which showed his playmaker skills. This year, those numbers dropped... Not by lack of effort however, due instead to teams showing much more reluctance to throw his direction.
He's a sleeper pick in round 4, one who would be an immediate help and impact.
Re: My first mock draft
This thread will probably get moved. ;)
I agree with your pick of Blackmon in the first round he is by far the best choice for this team. I don't think we are hurting as bad at corner as most people think and would prefer a guard or center in the 4th round. Put 9 DB's on IR and any team would struggle. What I do like is that you addressed the DT spot and I really like the OT selection in the 3rd. I feel like DT that is a major need, behind WR. Brandon Thompson is a great choice. I would also suggest picking up Jason Jones in Free Agency. He would be a good alternative to using the #33 pick on a DT and I feel with his connections to Fisher he would come here at a reasonable price.
Re: My first mock draft
Blackmon all the way!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: My first mock draft
I like the draft. <br>
I also, pretty much agree, with your analysis of our needs.<br><br>I think you made one major error in your assessment, not your draft. LT is not the #2 need. Saffold is a starting NFL LT, I promise. McD's offense was built for 2nd years tackles to struggle. Lots of one on one's where he was expected to hold blocks for 5-6 seconds at a time.<br><br>We need greater depth at LT and CB, but we don't need at new LT