St. Louis Rams Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
The 2014 NFL draft kicks off Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The St. Louis Rams possess two first-round picks and 12 selections total. After another losing season in 2013, the Rams will be looking to add impact players on both sides of the ball.
In the Rams' ultimate draft primer, we will break down everything you need to know about the team's upcoming draft. We will look at a position-by-position big board, a round-by-round breakdown of the team's options and the latest draft buzz.
List of 2014 Draft Picks
The Rams have 12 picks in the 2014 NFL draft.
Position-by-Position Big Board
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Derek Carr, Fresno State
AJ McCarron, Alabama
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Garrett Gilbert, SMU
Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Martavis Bryant, Clemson
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Jeremy Hill, LSU
Andre Williams, Boston College
Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State
James Wilder, Florida State
Arthur Lynch, Georgia
Colt Lyerla, Oregon
Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin
Reggie Jordan, Missouri Western State
Greg Robinson, Auburn
Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Joel Bitonio, Nevada
Billy Turner, North Dakota State
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Kony Ealy, Missouri
Dominique Easley, Florida
Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Jordan Tripp, Montana
Brock Coyle, Montana
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Jason Verrett, TCU
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Terrence Brooks, Florida State
Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State
Maurice Alexander, Utah State
Round 1, Pick 2
Team Needs: OT, OLB, WR, QB
With the No. 2 pick, the Rams have the opportunity to grab a transcendent talent. Johnny Manziel, Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack, Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews would all be considered slam-dunk picks if Jadeveon Clowney goes No. 1 overall.
Manziel would give St. Louis its quarterback of the future, while Watkins would give the Rams the true No. 1 they have been seeking at the wide receiver position. Mack would be a phenomenal edge-rusher at outside linebacker, and Robinson and Matthews would shore up a weak offensive line on the right side.
No matter which way you slice it, the Rams couldn't go wrong with any one of the five names mentioned above.
Look for St. Louis to settle on Robinson or Mack if it can't trade out of the No. 2 spot. Robinson could very well end up being the next Orlando Pace, and Mack could be a carbon copy of Von Miller.
Round 1, Pick 13
Team Needs: FS, CB, DT, WR
If the Rams opt for an offensive tackle with the No. 2 pick, one should expect them to address the free safety, cornerback or defensive tackle position at No. 13.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the only free safety who is worthy of a first-round selection, Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller are the only cornerbacks who are worthy of the pick at 13, and Aaron Donald should be the one defensive tackle that the Rams consider with their second first-round pick.
Why? Because he is a perfect 3-technique. And St. Louis' defense puts a lot of emphasis on a quality pass-rusher at the 3-technique spot. Yes, the Rams have Kendall Langford at the 3-technique spot right now, but he hasn't lived up to expectations.
Plus, an AFC executive believes Donald is the best defensive line prospect to come out in the last 10 years, according to Bryan Fischer of College Football 24/7. If Donald isn't there at 13, St. Louis' fallback option should be one of the two corners.
Gregg Williams' defense has a glaring need at the slot cornerback position. Fuller would fill that role and start immediately.
Round 2, Pick 12 (44)
Team Needs: WR, QB, CB, OT
The beauty of having so many picks in such a deep draft means St. Louis can grab a first-round caliber player in the second round. Two first-round-caliber players that the Rams could target in the second round are Davante Adams (Fresno State) and Derek Carr (Fresno State).
Even if the Johnny Manziel interest is real, St. Louis would be better off targeting a player like Carr in the second round. A handful of draft analysts believe he is a better quarterback than Manziel, and let's not forget the Rams worked Carr out privately.
Obviously, the Rams would have to move Sam Bradford if they picked a quarterback this early, but that shouldn't deter them from picking one. Bradford hasn't been able to stay healthy during his career, and Carr could end up being a better signal-caller than the former No. 1 pick.
As far as Adams goes, he would give the Rams offense something it has been missing. Here's what Ryan McCrystal of Bleacher Report had to say about Adams in his scouting report:
Adams put up some gaudy numbers thanks to Derek Carr, but he needs to completely reinvent himself in order to succeed in the NFL. While at Fresno State, Adams was basically a Torrey Smith-type player—a receiver who wins with pure speed. But his speed and athleticism are average, at best, by NFL standards.
He needs to transform from a speed receiver into a Greg Jennings type—a guy who wins with his routes and overall technique. Adams comes across as an intelligent player, so don't bet against him, but he also shouldn't be relied upon as an instant-impact rookie. It will likely take some time for him to develop and learn where he can win with his skill set in the NFL.
It's safe to say St. Louis could use a Torrey Smith-esque player.
Round 3, Pick 11 (75)
Team Needs: QB, OT, OG
If St. Louis missed out on a quarterback in Rounds 1 and 2, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report believes the Rams should draft Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois. In Miller's latest mock draft, he has the organization using the 75th pick on Garoppolo.
It's hard to tell if St. Louis has interest in him considering he didn't work out or visit with the Rams before the draft, yet that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a good fit for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense.
Based on the attributes listed in Ryan Lownes' scouting report, the Eastern Illinois quarterback appears to fit St. Louis' offense:
A highly decorated four-year starter at Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Garoppolo caught the attention of scouts with a record-breaking senior season. His success at the FCS level earned him a chance to participate at both the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, where he certainly proved he belonged.
An accurate passer with a quick release and the arm strength to make NFL throws, he looks to have starter upside if he can improve his footwork and poise.
While upside exists, pocket presence issues and struggles against pressure mar his tape.
In the long run, he would be best-served as a backup early in his pro career. He fits most naturally in a West Coast offense that would emphasize his abilities to get rid of the ball quickly and deliver accurately to the intermediate level.
Garoppolo being a backup with St. Louis would allow Bradford to finish out his contract. Once his contract was up, Garoppolo could then take over the Rams offense.
Round 4, Pick 10 (110)
Team Needs: RB, OG, OT
As good as Zac Stacy was as a rookie in 2013, head coach Jeff Fisher wore him into the ground. In 14 games, Stacy carried the ball 250 times. This, in turn, means he averaged 17.8 carries per game. In today's NFL, that's too many carries.
With that being said, St. Louis should do everything in its power to add another running back to the mix to take some of the pressure off Stacy. One back who would be a perfect fit for the offense is Jerick McKinnon of Georgia Southern.
He would not only give the Rams another body at the running back position, he would give them something they don't currently have—speed. At the combine, he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash, per NFL.com. Lownes of Bleacher Report believes he would be best utilized in a scheme that allows him to hit outside run lanes:
A former option quarterback that even played some cornerback before earning a full-time role in the backfield, Jerick McKinnon was one of the most versatile players in all of college football. He dazzled onlookers at the NFL Scouting Combine, displaying speed, strength and explosiveness.
Though lacking power to grind out the tough yards between the tackles, he could excel in a scheme that allows him to use his speed and run outside.
He may be a bit of a project, but his work ethic, versatility and athleticism should allow him to compete for a roster spot.
Some of you may be thinking that he sounds a lot like Isaiah Pead. You might be right about the comparison, yet I think we can all agree Pead's ship has sailed. It's time to move on from the second-round bust.
Round 5, Pick 13 (153)
Team Needs: OG, OLB, DT
The offensive guard position isn't necessarily top-heavy in this year's draft, but it does provide good depth in the later rounds. With a vacancy at the left guard position, the Rams should take advantage of that depth on the third day of the draft.
One guard who would be available with the 214th pick is Zach Fulton of Tennessee. Another guard who should pique the Rams' interest in the fifth round is Anthony Steen of Alabama. Both linemen played in the SEC and possess monster frames.
And if we know anything about Jeff Fisher, he likes his interior offensive linemen to be large. Fulton tops the scales at 316 pounds, and Steen weighs a cool 314 pounds. Miller of Bleacher Report ranks both prospects very closely, so the Rams will have to decide which player can come in and challenge for a starting job right away.
Based on the tape, Fulton appears to be the more polished prospect. Here's what Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post said about Fulton's skill set:
He usually plays from a 3-point right-handed stance. He shows good initial quickness and can get to his blocks quickly and efficiently. He plays with bend and shows some explosion on contact. He is a good technician and runs his feet on contact. He shows the ability to generate movement with his run blocks, and he consistently looks to finish. He is consistent getting to the second level and is also consistent with his pulls. He has the athleticism to adjust on the move and make a productive block. He shows good hand placement with both run and pass blocks.
In pass protection, he can set with good quickness and has the feet to slide and recover and the bend to anchor. He has a good punch and shows good ability to mirror his opponent. He is patient and alert in pass protection and does a good job with stunts and blitzes. Overall, this is a solid player who will eventually start in the NFL.
By the sounds of it, Fulton could beat out Brandon Washington for the team's starting left guard position.
Round 6, Pick 12 (188)
Team Needs: OLB, CB, DT
Drafting an offensive tackle early in the draft would mean the Rams have to snag an outside linebacker later.
The crop of outside linebackers in the draft tends to fall off after the first 100 picks, yet value can still be found in the sixth and seventh rounds. Two names Rams fans should remember are Shaquil Barrett and Prince Shembo.
Barrett is an outside linebacker from Colorado State who has been overlooked because of his 6'1", 260-pound size. But don't let his measurements fool you. He was the best player on the field in most of his showings, and his first-step quickness and flexibility as a rusher stand out on tape.
Shembo, on the other hand, possesses all the tools to be an explosive player, but he didn't live up to expectations in 2013 for Notre Dame. With the right coaching, he could develop into a solid backup.
Either player would prove to be a smart pick in the sixth round, but it's clear that Barrett is the sounder player at the moment. For that reason alone, he could challenge for playing time at outside linebacker and start on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 38 (214)
Team Needs: OT, DT, OG
Don't be surprised if St. Louis adds more than one offensive tackle in the draft. Left tackle Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL, and the depth at both tackle positions is less than impressive. As it stands right now, Mike Person and Graham Pocic are the backup left and right tackles, respectively.
Person and Pocic aren't bad players, but there's no question Cornelius Lucas of Kansas State would be an upgrade over both tackles. He has incredible size (6'8", 316 lbs) and is an impressive run-blocker at the point of attack.
Sure, he is an inconsistent pass-protector at times, but that's OK. The Rams have one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. St. Louis' staff can coach Lucas up with the hopes of him improving in a short period of time.
Another offensive tackle that the Rams could target in the sixth round is Michael Schofield of Michigan.
Round 7, Pick 11 (226)
Team Needs: OG, DT, ILB
As I mentioned before, left guard is a position of weakness right now. If the season started today, Brandon Washington would be the starter on opening day. Despite his potential, there's no way the Rams should bank on him starting 16 games.
Even in the seventh round, there is talent to be had at the guard position. With the 226th pick, St. Louis should take a long, hard look at Kadeem Edwards. He played at Tennessee State and is known for his long, athletic frame.
Per Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Edwards had the longest arms of any of the athletes who measured in at the Senior Bowl.
Round 7, Pick 26 (241)
Team Needs: ILB, DT, TE
With the Rams' second pick in the seventh round, they will need to address the inside linebacker position.
Even though James Laurinaitis is the unquestioned starter at middle linebacker, St. Louis needs to add depth at the position. At the moment, the Rams don't have a backup middle linebacker on the roster, which means they should target James Morris of Iowa or Andrew Jackson of Western Kentucky.
Neither player would garner any playing time on defense, but both would contribute on special teams. Moreover, they would most likely be guaranteed a roster spot based on the fact the position has no depth.
Round 7, Pick 34 (249)
Team Needs: DT, TE
The Rams may have a ton of depth at the defensive tackle position, yet that doesn't mean they won't take a late-round flier on a player with upside.
Two defensive tackles who are worth late-round fliers are Tenny Palepoi of Utah and Chris Whaley of Texas. Of the two prospects, Palepoi is the more consistent pass-rusher, but Whaley has the required skill set to make more plays in the backfield.
The only problem is that Whaley can't stay healthy. He hurt his knee as a senior and may never play in the NFL because of it. However, if his medicals check out prior to the draft, the Rams could plug him in as a rotational 3-technique.
Round 7, Pick 35 (250)
Team Needs: TE
Without a doubt, St. Louis is set at the tight end position. It has Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks and Cory Harkey. Yet, the Rams might use the 250th pick on Reggie Jordan of Missouri Western.
Jordan had a predraft visit with the Rams, and odds are he impressed them with his speed. According to NFL Draft Scout, he ran a 4.65 40-yard dash. Moreover, he bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times and posted a vertical jump of 30 inches.
Jordan is a small-school product who would be an H-back in the Rams offense.
Latest Draft Buzz
Here are the latest rumors that concern the Rams as the NFL draft approaches:
- Gayle Saunders of Rotoworld did a phenomenal job of tracking all the prospects the Rams worked out or met with.
- Extremely reliable sources told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Rams are not shopping quarterback Sam Bradford.
- On CBS Sports' 920 The Morning After show, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports said he believes the Minnesota Vikings and Rams have discussed a potential Bradford trade.