St. Louis Rams Big Board: Final Pre-Draft Update
The agonizing wait is finally over, and the NFL draft is ready to kickoff.
This year's draft is particularly unique for Rams fans in that no one has the slightest indication on the direction Jeff Fisher and Les Snead will take.
Typically, by this point, we have an idea of which players or positions the team is eyeing, but the lack of credible chatter from the media has forced us to rely solely on speculation and gut feeling.
But while we're unclear on the Rams' strategy, lets look at one final big board and glance at the top players available from this class.
Here are the Rams' top 10 options in the first round, as well as the top five players at each of the team's need positions.
Top 10 St. Louis Targets in Round One
1. OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Chance Warmack was a rock at Alabama and would be an extremely safe pick for St. Louis at No. 16 overall.
It would be wise for the Rams to take a relatively safe player at No. 16 and use the No. 22 on a "boom or bust" prospect.
2. DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
It's frightening that there's a chance that Sheldon Richardson could fall to No. 16, even if it's a slim chance.
After leading the NFL in sacks as a team last season, it would be almost unfair for opposing quarterbacks if the Rams secured Richardson.
3. DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The Rams are hardly desperate for more defensive linemen and should focus their picks elsewhere, but it would be extremely difficult to ignore Star Lotulelei if he fell out of the top 10.
4. OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Like Warmack, Jonathan Cooper is another extremely safe pick at a position of need. He can lock down the left guard position for the next decade.
5. WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Tavon Austin may be small, but he's dynamite on the football field. Expect outrage from the St. Louis fanbase if Austin is not a member of the Rams by the end of Day One.
6. S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro is not a popular choice amongst fans. With so many talented safeties in the class, there's no reason to waste a first-round pick on Vaccaro.
If the Rams do decide on Vaccaro, though, they'll be getting an enforcer in the secondary to replace Quintin Mikell.
7. OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
There are questions surrounding the long-term health of Jarvis Jones, but the guy is an elite defensive talent and Fisher knows it.
8. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
With no clear-cut receiver leading the pack in a Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green fashion, the Rams may opt for DeAndre Hopkins, who could very well be the most well-rounded receiver in this particular class.
9. WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Hopkins may be the safer pick, but no receiver from this class has the upside of Cordarrelle Patterson. If the Rams take a safe player at No. 16, they may be willing to gamble on Patterson at No. 22.
10. LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Alec Ogletree could be the final piece to the St. Louis front seven, but does his immaturity outweigh his talent?
Unless any of these passers can be had on Day Three, the Rams have no interest in acquiring a starting quarterback.
But here's the top five quarterbacks available anyway:
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
3. Matt Barkley, USC
4. EJ Manuel, Florida State
5. Mike Glennon, North Carolina State
1. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Make no mistake, whether the knee is good or bad, Marcus Lattimore is the most talented back of this class by a mile.
2. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Some in the media have outsmarted themselves by ranking inferior running backs ahead of Eddie Lacy, but they must not remember him running over opposing teams in a locomotive fashion.
Lacy will be an effective workhorse for the team that is lucky enough to grab him.
3. Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Some would rank the smaller, shiftier backs ahead of Christine Michael, but he's a better every-down back and has great potential.
4. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Giovani Bernard lacks elite straight-line speed, but his agility and shiftiness is enough to get the job done.
5. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Montee Ball is slightly undersized, but you won't find a back in this class who was more productive at the collegiate level. Ball could be an absolute steal in the middle of the draft.
1. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Tavon Austin is not the outside threat the Rams have been waiting on for years, but he's an explosive playmaker and a game changer.
2. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
DeAndre Hopkins plays with consistency and is the safest pick at receiver from this class. The Rams will be keeping a sharp eye on him in Round 1.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson is an electric presence on the field, but his lack of experience makes him a major risk in the first round.
4. Justin Hunter, Tennessee
After returning from a knee injury, Justin Hunter saw a drop-off in production in 2012. If teams can overlook the injury, there's a lot to like about Hunter.
5. Keenan Allen, California
Injuries and a terrible 40-yard-dash time (4.71 seconds, according to CBS Sports) will hurt Keenan Allen on draft day, even though Allen was once considered the top receiver in this class.
With Lance Kendrick already on the roster and with Jared Cook added in free agency, the Rams have zero interest in an early-round tight end, but here's the top five:
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz, Stanford
3. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
4. Jordan Reed, Florida
5. Vance McDonald, Rice
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Not going to happen for St. Louis, but Luke Joeckel is the top tackle of this class.
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Joeckel has the No. 1 overall spot secured, but Eric Fisher has challenged him and kept thing interesting this spring.
3. D.J. Fluker, Alabama
With Rodger Saffold entering free agency at the end of the 2013 season, the Rams will keep an eye on D.J. Fluker if he drops in Round 1.
4. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Lane Johnson is a Combine warrior and doesn't seem to be on St. Louis' radar.
5. Menelik Watson, Florida State
If the Rams settle on a player who is the fifth-best at his position in the first round, it's time to turn off the TV and assume this year's draft is a flop.
1. Chance Warmack, Alabama
Chance Warmack is not the most exciting prospect at the position, but he would make an excellent pick at No. 16 overall.
2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Like Warmack, Jonathan Cooper is a boring pick, but he will help solidify the line for years to come.
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky
Larry Warford and the Rams aren't meant to be. He's not good enough for their No. 46 overall pick, but he is a little too good to last until their third-round pick.
4. Travis Fredrick, Wisconsin
Wisconsin has become a factory for quality offensive lineman, and that tradition will continue with Travis Fredrick.
5. Kyle Long, Oregon
With his brother Chris already on the St. Louis roster, the troubled Kyle Long will have a watchdog to keep him in line if the Rams select him.
With Chris Long and Robert Quinn already on the roster, and with William Hayes being re-signed this offseason, there is no way that St. Louis looks at an early-round end.
But either way, here's the top five pass-rushers for their 4-3 system:
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Ezekial "Ziggy" Ansah, BYU
3. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
5. Margus Hunt, SMU
1. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Putting the hometown favorite Sheldon Richardson next to second-year tackle Michael Brockers would make for a disgusting interior pass-rush.
2. Star Lotulelei, Utah
Star Lotulelei will not fall out of the top 10, but he would also be a devastating addition to St. Louis' arsenal of defensive linemen.
3. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Sharrif Floyd is better suited for a 3-4 system, but he'd do in a pinch if he miraculously slips out of the top 10.
4. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
The 313-pound Sylvester Williams will be a Day One pick and a Week 1 starter for some team, it's just not going to be the Rams.
5. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
The 320-pound Hankins is better off as a nose tackle in a 3-4 system, which is why the Rams will pass on him all day long.
1. Manti T'eo, Notre Dame
Sure, Manti T'eo had the worst game of his career at the worst possible time, but it's still difficult to imagine him ranked as the second-best middle linebacker had it not been for a ridiculous Internet scandal.
One thing's for sure—Manti's embarrassment is only temporary, but Alec Ogletree's immaturity could last a lifetime.
2. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Alec Ogletree is a top-10 talent, but immaturity could force him to drop as far as the second round. However, the Rams have no problem taking a player with character concerns if there's a high upside.
3. Jon Bostic, Florida
Jon Bostic ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the Combine, which is promising for a middle linebacker. The fact that he played his career in the SEC only adds to the intrigue.
4. Kevin Minter, LSU
Kevin Minter played against stiff competition in college and will make a solid Round 2 pickup for whichever team grabs him.
5. A.J. Klein, Iowa State
The Rams need a long-term backup for James Laurinaitis. If Klein can drop to Round 5 or Round 6, he could be that guy.
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Teams rarely go after outside linebackers in the first round if it's for a 4-3 defense, but St. Louis may be willing to make an exception for a risky yet remarkable talent in Jarvis Jones.
2. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Arthur Brown is a golden fit in the Rams 4-3 defense. Unfortunately, St. Louis will have to sacrifice a first-round pick to grab him.
3. Khasheem Greene, Rutgers
It would be difficult to ignore Khasheem Greene in Round 2. However, Fisher and Snead had no problem ignoring Mychal Kendricks and Lavonte David in the second round a year ago.
4. Sio Moore, Connecticut
If Sio Moore slips out of the second round, he'd be a great Round 3 pickup who can start immediately for the Rams.
5. Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Sean Porter is a bit undersized at 229 pounds and lacks the intensity of a top-notch linebacker, but he makes up for it with his athleticism.He could be a solid Day Three pickup for St. Louis.
With Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan locked-in as starters, it would be a shocker if the Rams pursued a corner early on.
Regardless, here's the top five:
1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
3. Desmond Trufant, Washington
4. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
5. D.J. Hayden, Houston
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro is the top safety available, but he has the misfortune of being among a crowded group of safeties. Regardless, he'd be a solid pickup for St. Louis.
2. Eric Reid, LSU
Eric Reid may be stiff in coverage, but he'll take the St. Louis run defense to the next level.
3. Matt Elam, Florida
The Rams took a playmaking defensive back from Florida last year. It worked out so well that they might have to do it again.
4. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Small-school prospects scare people, but Jonathan Cyprien may very well turn out the be the best safety of this class.
5. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
Between Reid, Elam and D.J. Swearinger, there's no shortage of intriguing SEC safeties who can start immediately for the Rams.