St. Louis Rams' NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
The period leading up to the NFL draft is loaded with misinformation and deception. General managers do not want their true intentions revealed, so teams universally feed false information to the media in order to accomplish this.
The St. Louis Rams are no exception. And while it's impossible to fully predict the draft blueprint formulated by head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, there are clues and observations that paint a vague picture.
This article will address several slogans and concerns that have stemmed from the St. Louis fan base in regards to the draft and label these trains of thought as either fact or fiction.
Jadeveon Clowney Is on St. Louis' Radar: Fact
The St. Louis defense is stacked at defensive end, so there's an assumption that the Rams are less interested in Jadeveon Clowney than other teams. But don't buy that.
According to Jim Thomas of STLtoday.com, the Rams hosted Clowney for an official private workout—one of 30 allowed for each team.
The visit alone is not exactly earth-shattering news. But to add to the intrigue, Fisher recently spoke with STLtoday.com and seemed very forgiving of Clowney's lack of production last season. He's apparently unmoved by Clowney's low sack total:
“You see a lot of other really big plays throughout the year. Consistent big plays, whether they’re chase plays down the field or plays against the run.”
Skeptics will dismiss the comments as a mere pre-draft smokescreen. But ask yourself this... Would it really be that shocking if a defensive-minded coach drafted a player who is, by most accounts, a rare and extraordinary defensive talent?
Since the Rams have plenty of talent at defensive end, getting Clowney on the field will be challenging. But Fisher went on to address that issue:
“I’ve learned over the years that you never have enough pass rushers,” Fisher said. “And I think not only us, but other teams that are in our situation, are creative enough to find ways to get (Clowney) on the field and put him in position to make plays.”
If the Rams do pull the trigger on Clowney, there's no reason for outrage. Having too many elite defensive ends on the roster is, uh... a pretty good problem to have.
Tight End Is No Longer a Need for the Rams: Fiction
It's tough to find a mock draft in existence that has the Rams taking a tight end in the first three rounds, but don't count out the position completely.
The Rams signed Jared Cook last year and still have Lance Kendricks under contract, but this is the last year on Kendricks' deal, according to Spotrac, and that's a cause for concern.
Kendricks is underutilized as a receiver, but he's still a dependable part-time pass-catcher, and he has averaged 34 catches per year since entering the league in 2011.
However, Kendricks' best feature is his run-blocking off the edge. He was not touted as a great run-blocker upon entering the league, but the skill has been a pleasant and valuable surprise for the Rams.
If Kendricks walks in free agency, the Rams will be in desperate need of another run-blocking tight end. That's not to say the Rams will target a tight end in the first two rounds, but it would not be overly shocking to see the Rams go that route in the third or fourth round.
If the Rams ignore the tight end position, it's clear that the team either has faith in Cory Harkey (who began to blossom towards the end of last season), or that the team is simply willing to wait until the 2015 draft for a replacement.
Greg Robinson Is a Project: Fiction
There's a common belief among draft gurus that Jake Matthews is the more polished, pro-ready player, while Greg Robinson is a project who is selling mere potential. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
Robinson is every bit as pro-ready as his SEC rival. Except, unlike Matthews, Robinson possesses unlimited potential and an enormous ceiling.
Robinson didn't have as many pass-blocking opportunities as Matthews, but he had some. He made the Missouri defenders—the best pass-rushing group in the SEC—look completely useless. He took them completely out of the game.
And forget about pass blocking. That's a skill that can be taught quite easily. Robinson's strength as a brute run-blocker is what the Rams truly value, and that's a skill that simply cannot be taught.
The Debate over Who to Draft at No. 2 Overall Is Somewhat Pointless: Fact
It's true... the debate over who to draft No. 2 overall—a debate that has been raging on for months—is all likely a moot point.
According to Greg Bedard of The MMQB, the Rams are actively shopping the No. 2 pick, which is no surprise given Snead's reputation as a wheeler and dealer.
At this point, the Rams staying put at No. 2 would be more shocking than a trade down. It's more a question of "when" rather than "if."
So, if you're overly attached to a potential target at No. 2... let this be your warning. Be prepared to let it go.
Sammy Watkins Is the Only WR with True No. 1 Potential: Fiction
Rams fans are excited over the possibility of adding Sammy Watkins to the arsenal, but they tend to view the other receivers from this class with apathy.
There's little doubt that Watkins is an exciting talent and clearly the top prospect of the bunch, but this class is packed with awesome talent at the position.
Mike Evans (Texas A&M) is physical monster on the outside. He's the type of receiver the Rams were hoping to get with Brian Quick and Austin Pettis. He should not be overlooked at No. 13 overall.
Even the second round has talents that should not be overlooked—such as Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Marqise Lee (USC) and Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State).
Some feel the Rams should shy away from the so-called second-tier receivers due to past failures—Quick, Donnie Avery, Pettis—but the Rams must approach the draft logically and not steer away from a certain players due the past shortcomings of others.