6 Players St. Louis Rams Could Take in the First Round of 2013 NFL Draft

Matthew MeltonContributor IIINovember 25, 2012

6 Players St. Louis Rams Could Take in the First Round of 2013 NFL Draft

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    The Rams are in the enviable position of having two first-round draft picks this coming season, resulting from last year's pre-draft trade with the Washington Redskins.

    The Rams allowed the Redskins the opportunity to draft Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in 2012. The Redskins, in turn, allowed the Rams the opportunity to make use of Washington's first-round pick until the end of time.

    In reality, it was just for two more seasons (2013 and 2014), but the Rams hope the effect of these drafts last much longer.

    Every year is the same for Rams fans, it seems. Before the football calendar is anywhere close to its end, Rams fans stop talking about this season and start talking about next season.

    The good news is that the Rams won't be drafting within the first half-hour of next year's NFL Draft.

    The bad news is that they will still be drafting alongside the rest of the NFL's underclass who failed to make the playoffs.

    For those keeping count, we're at eight seasons (and counting) without a playoff appearance for the Rams. That's one short of the franchise record in the Super Bowl era.

    For those Rams fans already looking towards next season, here are the six players the Rams are most likely to select with their two picks in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Luke Joeckel, OT (Texas A&M)

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    After the Rams traded Jason Smith to the New York Jets at the beginning of the season, and then after struggling to keep Rodger Saffold healthy through much of it, we know it is almost a virtual certainty the Rams will draft an offensive tackle with their initial first-round selection.

    The Rams couldn't go wrong in taking the best overall lineman in the NFL draft: Luke Joeckel.

    Joeckel (6'6", 310 lbs) is better known to the casual fan as the man who kept Texas A&M quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel upright the past two seasons.

    The Aggies offense is arguably one of the best in all college football. This year, they rank second and fourth overall, respectively, in Division I-A in total yards and points per game (44.8).

    More importantly, they have shown great balance. The Aggies rank in the top 15 in both passing and rushing yards. No other school can say that.

    What that tells me is that Joeckel is very effective in both pass- and run-blocking.

    Since taking Orlando Pace first overall in 1997, the Rams have failed on the two offensive lineman they've selected in the first round since. Smith (2nd overall, 2009) and Alex Barron (19th overall, 2005) were huge disappointments.

    The Rams need a new left tackle for the next decade. If Joeckel is there, the Rams are very likely to give him the responsibility of becoming Sam Bradford's blindside protection.

Taylor Lewan, OT (Michigan)

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    If Joeckel is selected before the Rams make their initial first-round pick, the Rams are very likely to go with Michigan OT Taylor Lewan.

    Lewan (6'7", 302 lbs) follows a long line of Wolverine tackles who have produced admirably in the NFL.

    From Jumbo Elliott to Jon Runyan to Jake Long, the Rams can feel confident that Lewan has the pedigree to excel at the next level.

    Lewan is a strong blocker in the run game, helping to lead the Wolverine offense to over 2,200 rushing yards so far this season.

    If the Rams' personnel department feels there is too much of a drop off between Joeckel and Lewan, it would not surprise me if the Rams make a trade to move up in the draft.

    Also, if the Rams end up picking behind teams also in desperate need of an OT (Arizona, Buffalo or Philadelphia), they may not want to risk losing both Joeckel and Lewan. That would also necessitate using some of those extra draft picks to move up via trade.

    The Rams can feel confident in going with either Joeckel or Lewan in this year's draft.

Keenan Allen, WR (California)

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    If the Rams finish the season strong, thus positioning themselves outside of taking Joeckel or Lewan in the first round, they will have the chance to take the draft's highest-rated wide receiver: Keenan Allen.

    Ever since taking Torry Holt, the Rams have spent the past 13 years looking outside the first round for a WR. Big mistake.

    Donnie Avery, Eric Crouch, Austin Pettis, Shaun McDonald, Keenan Burton, Greg Salas, Mardy Gilyard—the list goes on and on. And Brian Quick is already coming dangerously close to adding his name to that roll call of pass-catching failures.

    Rams fans can breathe easy if the team is lucky enough to select Allen.

    Allen (6'3", 205 lbs) runs a sub-4.5 in the 40-yard dash and he is a superior talent getting yards after the catch. Allen can run multiple types of routes and attack all levels of a defense.

    As a sophomore in 2011, Allen was ninth in Division I-A in both receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,343).

    A knee injury has slowed Allen's production this season. However, in only nine games Allen still has a respectable 61 receptions for 737 yards and six touchdowns.

    The Rams could do a lot worse next year than having Allen and Chris Givens line up on the outside, with Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson underneath.

Eric Reid, FS (LSU)

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    After the Rams decide to either upgrade their offensive line with a mammoth tackle or add a superstar playmaker at wide receiver, the team will then look to improve the defense with their second pick in the first round.

    My money is on the Rams taking LSU free safety, Eric Reid. At 6'2" and 208 lbs, Reid has the size and skillset to handle almost any wide receiver who comes over the middle.

    Reid has so far tallied 81 tackles this season, more than half of which have came in LSU's last five games. Reid also has two interceptions and four passes defended this year.

    Those numbers tell me that Reid has no problems handling roles in either run support or pass coverage.

    The Rams have one of the deepest talent pools at cornerback, after adding Cortland Finnegan in free agency and drafting Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson last year.

    The safety position, however, is one of the weakest on the Rams roster. It's time for the Rams to finally spend some of their draft day capital on the position. 

    After watching Craig Dahl and Darian Stewart in the Rams' defensive backfield, that should not be hard to figure out.

Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)

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    It might seem strange for the Rams to look at defensive tackle in this year's first round. The team did bring in Kendall Langford in free agency last year. They also used a No. 1 selection on Michael Brockers in last year's draft.

    Langford, however, is a defensive end by trade, and Brockers is still just 21 years old. So, it would make complete sense for the Rams to pick another DT.

    If Reid is off the board when the Rams' turn comes up, they would be wrong to pass up a talent like Lotulelei.

    Lotulelei (6'3", 325 lbs) has the size to take on any blocker and the speed to get around them.

    Lotulelei earned first-team All-Pac 12 honors last season and he also won the 2011 Morris Trophy as the league's best defensive lineman.

    Depending on which mock draft your search engine points you to, Lotulelei might be long gone when the Rams select, or he might be in a free fall.

    The Rams may already have the league's best defensive line with Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Brockers. Adding Lotulelei, there would be no question.

C.J. Mosley, OLB (Alabama)

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    Let's assume that the Rams nab one of the top two offensive lineman with their first selection in the first round.

    If they've subsequently missed out on taking Allen, Reid and Lotulelei, I see the Rams looking at OLB with their second selection in the first round.

    Mosley (6'2", 235 lbs) would be the answer to the question on who will serve as James Laurinaitis' long-term sidekick in the linebacking corps.

    Mosley is a playmaker in every measure of the word. He leads the Alabama defense in tackles (92) to go with four sacks, two interceptions (returning one for a touchdown against Michigan) and six tackles for loss.

    The Crimson Tide have produced a few decent linebackers over the years. By "few" I mean many, and by "decent" I mean All-Pro.

    There was Derrick Thomas and Cornelius Bennett during the 1980s, along with Lee Ray Jordan for the old-timers and Dont'a Hightower for the youngsters.

    Mosley seems more than capable to follow in their footsteps.