The St. Louis Rams are looking to take the next step in 2014, and that won't be possible without a successful draft.
The NFC West is a defensive powerhouse. The Rams need to keep up with the defensive arms race by upgrading the secondary, but St. Louis must simultaneously address its No. 1 concern: Fortifying the offense.
This mock draft will demonstrate how both objectives are within reach with proper decision-making and, of course, a bit of luck.
In this scenario, the Rams trade down from the No. 2 overall selection and pick up Atlanta's No. 6 and No. 37 picks (as well as future draft picks in 2015).
I don't typically explore trade possibilities in mock drafts, but I feel St. Louis will do everything in its power to move out of that No. 2 slot. Atlanta needs a defensive playmaker, so the hypothetical trade proposed in this article seems feasible.
So go ahead and sort through my picks and let me know in the comments section if you feel this draft covers all of the Rams' needs this offseason.
Weight: 205 Pounds
If the Rams stay put at No. 2, I strongly feel they'll take Clowney in an effort to create the top defensive front in all of football.
However, since the Rams already have a reasonable amount of star power on their defensive line, they'll attempt to trade out of the No. 2 pick and upgrade more desperate areas on the roster.
At No. 6 overall, it's hard to find a better option than Clemson's Sammy Watkins. He's arguably the best player available at this slot and provides St. Louis with something it has been sorely lacking since Torry Holt was in town—a No. 1 wide receiver.
I'm not convinced that Watkins is a truly unique talent. He's a perennial prospect in my opinion—meaning a receiver of his caliber comes along every year—but that's not to say he won't be an excellent NFL receiver at some point.
Watkins has terrific speed and can make big plays. When he makes a reception, he turns upfield and carries the ball like a running back. He'll be an immediate starter on the outside for St. Louis.
On the downside, Watkins is not an established downfield weapon. Most of his catches come on short routes just a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He plays bigger than most 6'1" receivers, but he's still far from the beastly downfield weapon most St. Louis fans are hoping for.
Having said that, the Rams need another offensive weapon, besides Tavon Austin, capable of turning a small catch into a monster gain. Watkins is no Calvin Johnson, but he's still a productive weapon capable of upgrading St. Louis' aerial attack.
Weight: 201 Pounds
Rams fans who also follow Missouri Tigers football remember Justin Gilbert as the guy who gave Mizzou receivers fits throughout the Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma State lost the game, but Gilbert stood out as a physical presence and deserves to be one of the top corners drafted in 2014.
The St. Louis secondary consistently displayed sloppy tackling throughout the 2013 season, so adding a tough corner such as Gilbert will help eliminate the issue.
The Rams already possess two promising young corners in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, but Cortland Finnegan is a likely cap casualty this offseason and Brandon McGee was a disaster in his limited playing time. As a result, the Rams need another corner to complete the trio.
Adding Gilbert will immediately transform the cornerback position into a team strength.
Weight: 207 Pounds
The Rams used the No. 13 pick on a physical corner in Gilbert, but there's no need to stop there. The team also requires another hard-hitting safety to team up with T.J. McDonald.
As mentioned in the introduction, the NFC West is a defensive arms race. If the Rams do not field the first- or second-best defense in the division next season, they will once again go nowhere and watch the playoffs from home.
As a result, the Rams need to build a secondary capable of standing up to the hard-nosed rivals of the division.
At 6'2" and over 200 pounds, Calvin Pryor is an impressive physical specimen. He's the type of safety who makes receivers dread going across the middle and makes running backs pay a price for breaking through to the next level.
In other words, he's destined to play in the NFC West.
If St. Louis can add Gilbert and Pryor in the same draft, they'll be fielding their very own "Legion of Boom" in 2014.
Weight: 327 Pounds
The Rams have two starting-caliber tackles in Jake Long and Joe Barksdale, but St. Louis needs a third option just in case Long is not healthy in time for Week 1.
Rodger Saffold could possibly be that third tackle if he's re-signed, but the offense is better with Saffold at guard, so that's likely where the coaching staff wants to keep him.
Adding a second-round prospect, such as Tennessee's Antonio Richardson, not only gives the Rams immediate offensive line depth, but it gives them an eventual replacement for Long.
Richardson is not an ideal Week 1 starter, as Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson might be, but he's capable of holding the fort for the first game or two until Long returns from his knee injury.
The injury to quarterback Sam Bradford prematurely ended St. Louis' season last October. With Long's questionable status for Week 1, the Rams cannot afford to expose Bradford to another injury with poor offensive line play.
They must find a fallback plan at tackle in the draft.
Weight: 340 Pounds
Cyril Richardson's stock is slipping due to his slow footwork and poor technique against speedy defensive tackles.
But if Richardson falls to the third round, he'll be hard to pass up regardless of those concerns.
Paul Boudreau, St. Louis' offensive line coach, is one of the best in the business and will have Richardson ready to start come Week 1. If Boudreau can tap into Richardson's natural talent, the Rams will have a bargain on their hands.
In this scenario, the Rams earlier grabbed Tennessee's Antonio Richardson in the second round. Adding Baylor's Richardson to play guard opposite Saffold completes the offensive line and remedies any weakness in the starting lineup.
Competing in the NFC West requires not only a top-notch defense but also a stout offensive line. The Richardson-Richardson combo brings St. Louis up to par with the offensive lines belonging to Seattle and San Francisco.
Weight: 317 Pounds
The Rams certainly want Kendall Langford back in 2014, but if that's not possible, they'll need to find a viable starter to play alongside Michael Brockers.
DaQuan Jones is a monster run-stopper who can penetrate the line and make tackles in the backfield. Jones had 11.5 tackles for loss in 2013.
Jones may need a year or two to reach his full potential, but that won't hurt St. Louis in 2014. The Rams play plenty of three-defensive end sets, so Jones will not be counted on as a full-time player. Also, Matt Conrath and Jermelle Cudjo are effective in small doses, so they'll back up Jones as well.
Jones is a monster prospect with starter potential. If the Rams are lucky enough to grab him in the fourth round, they'll have no regrets.
Weight: 236 Pounds
The Rams are satisfied with Zac Stacy as the No. 1 running back in 2014, but the team needs a backup plan in case Stacy goes down.
Benny Cunningham was productive at times but has some ball-security issues, so the Rams need another back to compete with Cunningham for the No. 2 job.
Jeremy Hill had a breakout year for LSU in 2013 with 1,406 yards and 16 touchdowns. He's a powerful runner who can bulldoze through defensive fronts and fight for extra yards.
Even if Hill cannot win the No. 2 job, he'll still be useful as a back in goal-line situations.
Weight: 209 Pounds
Shaw was remarkably efficient at South Carolina. He completed over 60 percent of his passes in each of his four seasons and finished with just one pick in 284 attempts as a senior.
Shaw also boasts impressive mobility. He rushed for 558 yards as a senior and finished his career with 17 rushing touchdowns.
In many ways, Shaw is a more efficient version of Kellen Clemens, so it's only fitting that the Rams bring in Shaw to compete with Clemens for the No. 2 job.
Weight: 205 Pounds
The Rams already grabbed Sammy Watkins in Round 1, but that's not enough. St. Louis needs yet another large receiver to compete with Austin Pettis and Brian Quick for playing time.
L'Damian Washington will need some time to develop as a intermediate receiver, but he'll contribute immediately as a red-zone threat thanks to his 6'4" size.
Washington is also a speedy deep threat. He'll provide the St. Louis offense with another downfield option besides Chris Givens and Jared Cook.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.