St. Louis Rams' Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades

Steven GerwelContributor IIIMay 7, 2014

St. Louis Rams' Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The NFL draft is the most vital weekend of the offseason, and it's particularly important for middle-of-the-pack teams with playoff aspirations, such as the St. Louis Rams

    Not everyone will be pleased with the direction the Rams take in the upcoming days, but if done right, this draft can elevate St. Louis to the next level. 

    With two first-round selections—No. 2 and No. 13 overall—the Rams will put on a show in the first round. Every single St. Louis pick will be covered live in this article, and up-to-date analysis will accompany each slide. 

    So stick around, and as you follow the draft, check back periodically to read my thoughts. Feel free to post your own comments and thoughts below.

Round 1 (2): T Greg Robinson, Auburn

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    Grade: A+

    After months and months of debating the best route for the St. Louis Rams' top pick, the decision is finally official, and the team has settled on Greg Robinson at No. 2 overall. 

    Jeff Fisher has never selected a tackle in first round, but Robinson was intriguing enough to warrant a selection. As a prospect, Robinson was the best player available at the No. 2 slot. 

    The Rams love to run the football, and Robinson's elite run blocking will greatly benefit the run game. As a result, second-year pro Zac Stacy is undoubtedly one happy customer.

    Robinson will begin his career as a left guard, and he'll eventually make the transition to left tackle after Jake Long plays out his contract.

    Robinson has unbelievable athleticism and is nothing short of an All-Pro in the making. As a result, it's hard to find a logical complaint against this pick. 

    Robinson will be a key part of the offense for years to come. 

     

     

Round 1 (13): DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

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    Grade: A+

    The Rams are a gritty football team, so it should come as no surprise that St. Louis is making an effort to beef up the lines. 

    Robinson gives the Rams muscle up front on offense, and Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald—the No. 13 overall selection—adds another threat to an already dominate defensive line. 

    Donald is a proven asset as a pass rusher. He recorded 11 sacks in 2013 and 29.5 sacks in his career at Pittsburgh. As a result, the Rams will field perhaps the most menacing defensive line in all of football next season. 

    Donald, combined with Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn and Chris Long, gives St. Louis four first rounders on the defensive line. 

    Defensive tackle was not an immediate need entering the draft, but there's not denying that he fits into what the Rams want to do on defense. 

Trade from No. 44 to No. 41 Overall

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Rams owned the No. 44 overall pick in the second round, but the team traded up to No. 41 overall with the Buffalo Bills

    The Rams sacrificed their fifth-round selection (No. 153 overall) to secure the move. 

Round 2 (41): DB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

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    Grade: A-

    Rams fans have been debating all offseason whether the team should use a high pick on a cornerback or a safety. 

    What did the Rams do? Both. 

    Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner was selected with the No. 41 overall pick, and the exciting young defensive back has the ability to play either cornerback or safety, making him an extremely valuable asset. 

    The 5'8", 184-pound Joyner is a bit undersized for the NFL, but defensive backs of the past, such as Bob Sanders and Tyrann Mathieu, have made it clear that small players can have an incredible impact. 

    It's difficult to determine what the coaching staff has in mind for Joyner, but the more pressing need is at safety, so it's a safe bet that he'll find a home up top. 

Round 3 (75): RB Tre Mason, Auburn

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    Grade: A

    The Rams selected monster offensive lineman Robinson out of Auburn in Round 1, and St. Louis added another key member of the stout Auburn run game in running back Tre Mason. 

    At 5'8" and 207 pounds, Tre Mason is virtually a clone of Zac Stacy. He's a bit undersized, but he's great out bouncing off tacklers and gaining yards after contact. 

    Mason does not have elite speed for his size, but his 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash indicates that he has just enough speed to break into the next level and rip off a big gain. 

    Mason and Robinson made Auburn's run game into the dominate unit it was. The Rams now have both of those pieces in St. Louis, and it's a perfect fit for a team that prefers to run the ball. 

Round 4 (110): S Maurice Alexander, Utah State

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Grade: C+

    The Rams entered this draft in desperate need of secondary help. 

    The team grabbed Joyner in Round 2, who has the ability to play either safety or corner, but Fisher said he'll primarily play slot cornerback, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner

    As a result, the Rams were still in need of a safety entering the fourth round, hence the selection of Maurice Alexander. 

    Alexander fills a need, but is a questionable acquisition in Round 4. CBS Sports had him ranked as seventh-round prospect. 

    According to Jim Thomas of STLtoday.com, Alexander was kicked off the Utah State football team after punching a teammate, so Alexander comes with some baggage as well. 

    Also, Alexander plays strong safety, just like T.J. McDonald. He has great size at 6'1" and 220 pounds, but the Rams need a coverage safety more than a thumper. 

    It's an odd selection, but this is one of those situations where the fans need to trust the judgement of the coaches and scouts. 

Round 5 (153): Traded to Bills

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    According to USA Today, the Rams sent their fifth-round selection to the Buffalo Bills. In exchange for the pick, the Rams were able to jump up from No. 44 to No. 41 in the second round to select Joyner. 

Round 6 (188): CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Grade: A

    The Rams added Joyner in the second round to solidify the cornerback position, but the team was still in need of additional cornerback depth. 

    E.J. Gaines out of Missouri is a phenomenal sixth-round selection and instantly turns St. Louis' cornerback depth into a team strength. 

    Gaines was one of the most dominate corners in the SEC last season. He's an incredible tackler and finished with 75 total tackles in 2013, and he's also a playmaker—he recorded five picks last season and eight throughout his career. 

    Gaines was initially mocked as a Day-2 player. He does a little bit of everything, but there's not one clear dominate trait to his game, which is why he slipped to the sixth round. 

    However, Gaines' versatility as a corner makes him an ideal backup. He can play outside, in the slot, and possibly a little bit of safety. 

    This is a great pickup for the Rams, and Gaines is a hometown favorite as well. 

Round 6 (214): QB Garrett Gilbert, SMU

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Grade: C

    The Rams signed veteran backup Shaun Hill of the Detroit Lions in free agency, but the 34-year-old veteran has just another year or two left in the tank, at best. 

    Hill will replace Kellen Clemens as the team's No. 2 quarterback, but the team needs a young, long-term backup, and SMU's Garrett Gilbert is a sensational fit. 

    At 6'4" and 221 pounds, Gilbert has ideal size for an NFL quarterback and has the physical aspects of a pro passer, but he lacks production. 

    Gilbert spent three years with the Texas Longhorns before transferring to Southern Methodist. 

    In his first four college seasons, Gilbert struggled with a combined 28 touchdowns and 38 picks in 37 games. Nothing about his play suggested he was a future NFL prospect, but his final season changed everything. 

    In 2013, Gilbert bounced back with 21 touchdowns, 3,528 yards and just seven interceptions. He also finished with a career-high 66.5 completion rate. 

    Gilbert's number would have been even more impressive had he not missed two games with an injury, according to The Dallas Morning News

    Clearly, Gilbert is a late bloomer. With a few years of coaching, he has the ability to be St. Louis' long-term backup. 

Round 7 (226): T Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Grade: B-

    The Rams grabbed Robinson with the top selection, but the Rams apparently still in need of offensive line depth. 

    With the team's first seventh-round selection, the Rams grabbed the monster tackle Mitchell Van Dyk out of Portland State.

    Van Dyk is a light for an NFL tackle at 299 pounds, but at 6'7" he's surely has the frame to add another 10 or 15 pounds. 

    Van Dyk is a long-shot when it comes to making the final roster, but he'll push some of St. Louis' low-end tackles, such as Sean Hooey and Mike Person, for a spot on the final depth chart. 

    It's also possible that Van Dyk will earn a spot on the practice squad, where he'll be free to develop for a few years before seeing any action. 

Round 7 (241): S Christian Bryant, Ohio State

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Grade: A-

    The Rams are not messing around when it comes to improving the secondary. Both cornerback and safety were positions in need of help entering the draft, and St. Louis has turned the secondary into a team strength. 

    The Rams added Joyner in Round 2, Alexander in Round 4, Gaines in Round 6, and the latest addition is seventh-round talent Christian Bryant. 

    Whereas Alexander is more of a booming, hard-hitting strong safety, Bryan is more of finesse coverage safety, which is exactly what the Rams need. 

    Bryant missed the majority of 2013 with an ankle injury and struggles to stay healthy, according to ESPN, but he'd be rated much higher if it weren't for those health concerns. 

    Bryant was a team captain for the Buckeyes and is a natural leader. If he makes the team, he'll be a tremendous addition to the secondary. 

     

Round 7 (249): DE Michael Sam, Missouri

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    Grade: A

    This is a bit of a game-changing pick, for obvious reasons, but that did not scare off the Rams 

    Months ago, Michael Sam announced to the world that he's a homosexual, making him the first openly gay prospect in NFL history. 

    With that aside, there should be no doubt that Sam is a tremendous value in the final round. It's not exactly common to draft the SEC defensive player of the year in the last round. 

    It can be argued that Sam's stock plummeted for reasons beyond his personal like. He ran a modest 4.91-second time in the 40-yard-dash and only recorded 17 reps on the bench press. 

    He did not shine at the combine, but his production speaks for itself. 

    Sam was the biggest playmaker on the Mizzou defense last season. He came up with 11.5 sacks and had 19 tackles for loss—both career highs. 

    Adding Sam's pass-rushing skills to a group that already features Robert Quinn and Chris Long is a frightening thought, and Sam has the talent to eventually contribute in a big way.  

    It's still unclear if this pick will bring an unwanted media storm, but there's no question that the Rams acquired a tremendous football player.  

Round 7 (250): C Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee State

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: C+

    The Rams were certainly able to locate offensive line help with Robinson and Round 1 and Van Dyk in the final round. Both picks strengthen the tackle positions, but the St. Louis' biggest weak spot on the line is at center. 

    Veteran Scott Wells is St. Louis' current center, but he has issues with staying healthy. Third-year pro Tim Barnes has experience as the starter, but he can certainly be upgraded. 

    Demetrius Rhaney—St. Louis' final pick of the draft—is not a flashy selection, but he'll improve the competition at center. 

    Rhaney has two years of experience as a starter, but he played against weak competition at Tennessee State. The NFL will certainly be a tough transition for the rookie.