The St. Louis Rams made a lot of noise throughout the first three rounds on this draft, so it was only a matter of time before the team made a questionable selection.
The Rams grabbed Auburn standouts Greg Robinson and Tre Mason in the first and third rounds, respectively. The team also grabbed Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald with its second first-round selection, and they tabbed Florida State's playmaking defensive back Lamarcus Joyner in Round 2.
The feedback has been positive regarding the four aforementioned picks, but the fourth-round selection of Maurice Alexander has fans scratching their heads.
Alexander, a former member of the Utah State program, comes with some serious baggage.
According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Alexander was kicked off the Utah State football team after punching one of his teammates:
Alexander made "local" visit to Rams. He was kicked off Utah State team after punching a teammate.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) May 10, 2014
However, the Rams have no problem selecting players with questionable backgrounds.
In 2012, the Rams used a second-round selection to grab cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins was a first-round talent who slipped on draft day after being kicked off the Florida Gators football team for marijuana-related legal issues.
The Rams even gave Titus Young a quick tryout last season after it was made clear that the young receiver was extremely troubled, as he was banished three separate times by the Lions during his time in Detroit. The debacle did not last long, however, as Young was released days after being signed.
Perhaps Alexander's issues do not run as deep as the two above examples, though. His incident could have very well been a one-time lapse of judgement, so he deserves a fair shot.
Is Alexander a Shocking Selection?
Alexander is certainly not a name experts were discussing as a possibility for St. Louis in the fourth round.
In fact, according to Alexander's scouting report on CBS Sports, the safety was expected to be a valuable undrafted rookie free agent, or possibly a seventh-round selection at best.
Clearly, this pick will be considered a major reach, especially if Alexander does not pan out. Surely, Alexander and his camp are thrilled that he's a mid-round selection, but few saw this coming.
However, if you look a little closer, this pick was somewhat predictable.
Per Thomas, Alexander—a local talent from Eureka high school—spent time working out with the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome following his departure from Utah State:
After returning to St. Louis after his suspension from Utah State, he worked at the Edward Jones Dome _ including during Rams games.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) May 10, 2014
As a result, the coaching staff is obviously familiar with Alexander as a prospect, so this pick was always a real possibility, regardless of his lack of name recognition among draft experts.
How Does Alexander Fit In?
Another aspect that makes this a questionable pick is Alexander's skill set.
Alexander has pretty ideal size for an NFC West safety. At 6'1" and 220 pounds, he has enough beef to play physically and bring down both running backs and tight ends. In fact, he's known as a thunderous hitter and knows how to blitz the quarterback—two skills Jeff Fisher looks for in a safety.
However, the Rams already have a safety who fits that description in second-year pro T.J. McDonald. McDonald is a sizable safety and has the strong safety position locked up for St. Louis.
The Rams needed a coverage safety more than a big hitter, and Alexander is definitely not the former.
With that in mind, it's likely that Alexander is being viewed more as a backup to McDonald rather than a second starter. The Rams are likely ready to give incumbent Rodney McLeod—a weak spot on the defense—another chance as the starter in 2014.
Alexander will likely come in on defense in obvious run situations, but other than that, he's merely there to provide depth.
It's also likely that we'll see Alexander on special teams. He's a perfect gunner for the kickoff team, and he'll also have value on the punt coverage team.
Overall, this is a pretty questionable pick. This is one of those situations where the fans simply need to put their agendas aside and trust the judgement of the coaches and scouts.
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.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!