2012 first-round pick Michael Brockers, left, and head coach Jeff Fisher.
One of St. Louis’ biggest offseason moves thus far was to push back some of defensive end Chris Long’s 2013 cap hit to future years, so their needs remain largely the same as they did entering free agency.
That means wide receiver and safety remain the team’s most pressing concerns as it relates to simply needing bodies—including starters—at the respective positions. The O-line still needs a makeover as well.
Some youth and speed at outside linebacker and size at running back might also be helpful. The Rams currently have eight selections to address all of those needs.
If Kenny Vaccaro is available at the No. 16 spot—as he is in my league-wide mock draft—the St. Louis Rams need to turn his name in and keep it moving. This year’s safety class is widely touted as deep, but St. Louis could still use two starters in its defensive backfield.
Vaccaro is the consensus top guy at his position.
Darian Stewart is a good player, but his one-year, $1 million deal doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence regarding his long-term availability to the Rams.
With Tavon Austin, Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper, D.J. Fluker and Jonathan Cyprien all off the board prior to No. 22 in my mock, I have the St. Louis Rams eventually trading out of the first round. Failing that, Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins would be an intriguing fit here.
St. Louis doesn’t need any more projects at the wide receiver position; the average age of wideouts on the Rams roster who caught a pass last season is about 23. Cheap veterans like Domenik Hixon (one year, $1.2 million) and David Nelson (one year, $680,000) changed zip codes this offseason, but didn’t trade their old uniforms in for blue and gold.
Hopkins isn’t huge (6’1”, 214 pounds) or a burner (4.57-second 40-yard dash), but he’s productive: He hauled in 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior at Clemson.
Alec Ogletree would offer the St. Louis Rams a lot of speed (4.70-second 40-yard dash at the combine) at an outside linebacker position for the modest price—given that his talent has been described as top-10—of a second-round pick.
The risk of his off-the-field history might just be outweighed by his on-the-field potential by the middle of the second round. He was arrested for DUI in February.
All 32 teams are going to have a different opinion on when’s a good time to gamble on him. For some, it could be the first round—which would mean Ogletree would be off the board long before St. Louis gets its third shot at him in the 2013 NFL draft.
The St. Louis Rams would like to have had a top-flight offensive lineman locked up prior to the third round. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it’s worked out so far.
Les Snead preempted the situation and signed former Miami Dolphins left tackle (and No. 1 overall pick) Jake Long in free agency. The line could still use more help, though, so the versatile Dallas Thomas—who has drawn comparisons to the Rams’ own Rodger Saffold—gets slotted here in Round 3.
The time to draft a running back is not on Day 1 if you’re the St. Louis Rams. It might not even be Day 2. If Le’Veon Bell is on the board in Round 4, though, he’ll be hard to pass up.
Maybe we’ll all grow tired of the Le’Veon/Steven Jackson comparisons as the 2013 NFL season approaches—especially if Bell proves to be Jackson’s successor in St. Louis—but both men see their similarities.
USC offensive lineman Khaled Holmes has played with a presumably professional quarterback for a long time now, having blocked for Matt Barkley since high school. He would provide developmental depth along the St. Louis Rams’ offensive front.
Starting center Scott Wells and starting guard Harvey Dahl will both be 32 by the start of the 2013 season.
Going back to the USC well in Round 6, if the 2013 NFL draft resembles NFL.com’s Josh Norris' board, could net the St. Louis Rams safety T.J. McDonald.
McDonald tested well at the combine, earning top performer honors in the bench-press, vertical jump and broad jump workouts.
He’s 6’2”, 219 pounds and ran a 4.59 40—not exactly Taylor Mays’ level of athleticism, but having a father who played in the league should be advantageous for McDonald on Day 3.
The St. Louis Rams have been connected to a couple of wide receivers who are expected to be Day 3 picks, if they’re drafted at all. Ace Sanders of South Carolina and T.J. Moe of Missouri have received some attention from Jeff Fisher and Co. in the pre-draft process.
Sanders’ appeal is as a return man, but he was also more productive in the receiving game (45 receptions, 531 yards, nine touchdowns) than Moe (40 receptions, 399 yards, one touchdown) was in 2012.
Moe killed the combine and is bigger (5’11”, 204 pounds) than Sanders (5’7”, 173 pounds). Maybe his potential as the next great slot machine earns him a draft selection.
Moe’s would be one of the first phones to ring after the draft if that scenario takes place and he ends up undrafted.
Jamal Collier is the St. Louis Rams draft correspondent for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @StatManJ.