Why the St. Louis Rams Will Have the Best 2014 NFL Draft

Luke EasterlingCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2014

St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead, left, and head coach Jeff Fisher discuss the Rams' prospects in the upcoming NFL football draft on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, at the teams' training facility in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Okay, so I'm not exactly going out on a limb here.  With two of the top 13 selections in the 2014 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams are expected to score big come May.  But it's the track record of general manager Les Snead and their potential to swing another blockbuster trade that make the Rams my pick to "win" this year's draft.

Snead committed highway robbery in 2012 by acquiring three first-round picks and a second-round pick from Washington just to move down four spots.  He then moved down even further to the 14th overall pick, where the Rams drafted the player they were prepared to take at No. 6, DT Michael Brockers.  These moves provided Snead the flexibility to move up for wide receiver Tavon Austin last year, and have put them in an extremely advantageous position heading into the 2014 draft.  

Just as they did in 2012, the Rams currently hold the 2nd overall pick in this year's draft and could have yet another opportunity to move down and stockpile premium draft picks for the future.  With the team likely to stick with current starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the time being, Snead & Co. could end up luring a QB-needy team into trading up for one of the top signal-callers in this year's class.  With the likes of Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, UCF's Blake Bortles, and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel available, the bait is there, even if the Houston Texans take a quarterback with the top overall pick.  

A quick look at the rest of the teams picking in the top 10 reveals plenty of weak quarterback situations.  The Jaguars, Browns, Raiders and Vikings are all prime candidates to make a splash by moving up to grab a franchise QB.  Even a team like the Falcons, who currently hold the 6th overall pick, could be interested in moving up to No. 2 to grab South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.  After all, the Falcons are no stranger to the blockbuster draft-day deal.

With the Rams primary need being a left tackle, trading down into the latter half of the top 10 would more than likely still give them a shot at either of the top two tackles in this year's class, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews or Auburn's Greg Robinson.  The Rams would then be free to address their other glaring need at safety with the 13th overall pick, where they'll surely have their pick of the litter at the position.

The Rams are clearly a franchise moving in the right direction, especially if Bradford can step up and prove himself as a true franchise QB (staying healthy would be a good start).  This year's draft should give them yet another opportunity to add a class of players who can both make an immediate impact as well as provide vital depth.  If they hope to stay competitive in one of the NFL's toughest divisions in 2014, winning this draft will be a necessary first step.