St. Louis Rams: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis

Steven GerwelContributor IIIMay 12, 2014

St. Louis Rams: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    After months and months of debating, arguing and speculating, St. Louis Rams fans can finally rest easy—the 2014 NFL draft is complete. 

    The Rams did not fill every need—no team ever does—but it's fair to say that St. Louis, armed with the luxury of two first-round selections, had perhaps the most beneficial draft out of all NFL teams. 

    If you missed the draft, this article will get you completely up to speed. Read on to see what picks the Rams made, grades for each pick, the best and worst picks of St. Louis' draft and much more.

    Use the comments section to tell us what you think of St. Louis' draft results.

The Picks

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    GM Andrews/Associated Press

    Here is St. Louis' selection in each round, as well as a letter grade for each pick: 

     

    Round 1 (Pick No. 2 overall): T Greg Robinson, Auburn

    Greg Robinson is the best run-blocker in the entire draft, which is perfect for St. Louis' run-first mentality. He has the elite athleticism teams look for in a top pick, and he'll eventually develop into a reliable pass-protector. 

    Robinson was the best player available at No. 2 overall, so this is a perfect selection. 

    Grade: A+

     

    Round 1 (Pick No. 13 overall): DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

    The Rams had one of the most frightening 4-3 defensive fronts in football last season, so this pick did not exactly fill a need, but how can anyone argue against adding a talent such as Aaron Donald? 

    This monster is a sack machine, can run the 40-yard-dash in under 4.7 seconds (at nearly 290 pounds) and posted a combine-high 35 reps on the bench press, per NFL.com. 

    Donald is the final piece to the 21st century version of the Fearsome Foursome. Not to mention, he was the best player available at No. 13 overall.  

    Grade: A+

     

    Round 2 (Pick No. 41 overall via Buffalo): DB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

    At 5'8" and 184 pounds, Lamarcus Joyner is a bit undersized, but if we've learned anything from Bob Sanders and Tyrann Mathieu, it's that big things can come in small packages. 

    Joyner is not afraid to tackle, despite his size, and he's a natural playmaker. He can jump routes, secure interceptions and even return kickoffs. 

    The Rams were hurting for cornerback depth entering the draft, so Joyner is the perfect solution to that problem.

    Grade: B+

     

    Round 3 (Pick No. 75 overall): RB Tre Mason, Auburn

    Zac Stacy emerged as St. Louis' workhorse back as a rookie last season, but there's no such thing as too many backs in St. Louis' run-first offense. 

    Mason was highly productive at Auburn—with 1,816 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns—and has experience running behind Robinson. His chemistry with Robinson in the run game will be a huge asset. 

    Grade: A

     

    Round 4 (Pick No. 110 overall): S Maurice Alexander, Utah State

    The Rams were in desperate need of a safety entering the draft, so this pick fills a need, but few experts had "Mo" Alexander as a mid-round prospect. 

    Alexander is a hard-hitter—something defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves—but the Rams needed a coverage safety more than another hitter. 

    Grade: C-

     

    Round 6 (Pick No. 188 overall): CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri

    Talk about a high-value selection. 

    E.J. Gaines was one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC last season. He has tremendous versatility as a cornerback and can line up all over the field. 

    The hometown favorite solidifies St. Louis' depth and helps turn the cornerback position into a team strength. 

    Grade: A

     

    Round 6 (Pick No. 214 overall): QB Garrett Gilbert, SMU

    The Rams picked up free-agent quarterback Shaun Hill as the team's new No. 2 quarterback, but the Rams need a better long-term option. 

    Garrett Gilbert was a underachiever for most of his college career, but he showed signs of life in his final season with Southern Methodist. He passed for 21 touchdowns, seven picks and over 3,500 yards. 

    At 6'4" and 221 pounds, he has great size for an NFL passer. With a few years of development under his belt, there's a chance the late-bloomer will eventually become a decent pro passer. 

    Grade: C+

     

    Round 7 (Pick No. 226 overall): T Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State

    Since Robinson and Rodger Saffold are both penciled in as guards for the Rams, the team needs more depth behind starting tackles Long and Joe Barksdale. 

    Van Dyk is a nice under-the-radar pickup. He'll have to outplay Sean Hooey and Mike Person for a roster spot, but he certainly has a chance.

    Grade: B

     

    Round 7 (Pick No. 241 overall): S Christian Bryant, Ohio State

    Safety Christian Bryant was one of the more alluring late-round defensive backs, so he was worth a flyer in the seventh round. 

    With Bryant and Alexander added to the roster, the Rams will have solid competition in the secondary during training camp. 

    Grade: A

     

    Round 7 (Pick No. 249 overall): DE Michael Sam, Missouri

    Michael Sam finished his 2013 season with an SEC-high 11.5 sacks and 19.0 tackles for loss. As a result, Sam was named as the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. 

    The SEC, of course, is the toughest division in college, so it's not everyday a team can draft an award-winning player from that division in the final round. 

    Sam is a tweener in the 4-3 system, but he offers tremendous value as a pick. 

    Grade: A

     

    Round 7 (Pick No. 250 overall): C Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee State

    The Rams have Scott Wells penciled in as the starting center, but the 33-year-old veteran has missed 13 starts in his last two seasons and is reaching the end of the line. 

    Demetrius Rhaney gives the Rams some solid depth behind Wells. Rhaney, at the very least, will have to prove he's a better center than Barrett Jones if we wants to make the roster. 

    Grade: B+

Best Pick: T Greg Robinson, Auburn

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    It's fairly easy to look at a team's top draft pick and hype that selection as the best pickup of the draft, but in St. Louis' case, the acquisition of Robinson is truly second-to-none. 

    Robinson is a mauling run-blocker and a rare physical specimen. The Rams love to run the football on offense, and Robinson's tenacity will open the run lanes and take the ground game to the next level. 

    Robinson is not the most polished pass-protector, but for a man who is 6'5", 332 pounds and runs the 40-yard-dash in 4.92 seconds, per NFL.com, it's obvious that he has the athleticism to eventually adapt. 

    Since the Rams have a capable left tackle in Long, Robinson will likely spend the first year or two of his career at left guard. He'll eventually make the switch to the blind side after Long plays out his contract. 

    Considering two of the main goals of St. Louis' offense are to protect Sam Bradford and run the football—two goals that Robinson will help the team accomplish—it's clear that this is the best pickup of the draft.

Worst Pick: S Mo Alexander, Utah State

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    The reviews were through the roof for the Rams when it came to the picks in the first three rounds, but the fourth round had fans scratching their heads. 

    The Rams used the selection on Utah State safety Mo Alexander, whom CBSSports.com had ranked as a seventh-round prospect or possibly even an undrafted rookie. 

    Alexander can be considered a reach, but the red flags don't end there. According to Jim Thomas of STLtoday.com, Alexander was kicked off the Utah State football team for punching a teammate. 

    And to top it off, Alexander is a hard-hitting strong safety. He's certainly not the coverage safety the St. Louis defense lacked last season. 

    In Alexander's defense, he is a monster defensive back at 220 pounds and a bone-crunching hitter. If his skills translate to the NFL, he's perfect for a Jeff Fisher defense.

Undrafted Free Agents

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Rams had four major undrafted free-agent additions last season in RB Benny Cunningham, LB Ray Ray Armstrong, LB Daren Bates and S Cody Davis. 

    St. Louis has a terrific scouting department that knows how to locate under-the-radar talent. These names might not mean anything to you right know, but keep and eye on all these players. 

    As more signings come in, this section will be updated. Here's who the Rams have picked up so far: 

     

    RB Trey Watts, Tulsa

    TE Alex Bayer, Bowling Green 

    OL Emmanuel McCray, Ole Miss

    CB Jarrid Bryant, South Dakota

    LB Johnny Millard, Cal Poly

    WR Austin Franklin, New Mexico State

    LB Aaron Hill, Minnesota 

    WR Jamaine Sherman, East Texas Baptist University

    DE Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M

    FB Kadeem Jones, Western Kentucky

    S Avery Cunningham, Central Michigan

What's Next for the Rams?

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The additions of tackle Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason brings an already respectable St. Louis run game one step closer to dominance. 

    The Rams avoided drafting a wide receiver, and that's a telltale sign of what the priorities are in St. Louis. The Rams are not a finesse team that's hellbent on throwing the deep ball all game long. The Rams players are far too big, mean and ugly for that nonsense. 

    On the contrary, the Rams want to run the football and play top-notch defense. Fisher wants his team to smack around opponents for four quarters and inflict pain, and these picks will help accomplish that. 

    Obviously, teams need some sort of a passing game to survive in today's NFL, but don't let the current group of pass-catchers discourage you. 

    Last year's receivers spent over half the season catching passes from Kellen Clemens—not exactly a decorated passer—so that alone deflates the passing statistics from last year. With Sam Bradford healthy for 16 games, the passing game will surely surprise people. 

    Additionally, all of the receivers are extremely young. At 26 years old, Austin Pettis is the veteran of the group, and most of the receivers have been in the league three years or less. This summer's training camp will give the unit some much-needed experience. 

    Overall, the Rams are an extremely talented football team. St. Louis' backup defensive linemen—William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Alex Carrington, Jermelle Cudjo and Kendall Langford—would probably be an upgrade over many team's starting units. 

    And now that the secondary has been heavily addressed in the draft, there are very few weak spots on the roster. 

    If not for the misfortune of playing in the best division of football, this exciting St. Louis team would be a lock for the playoffs. 

    It'll be hard for St. Louis to make noise in the NFC West, but this will be an extremely fun team to watch in 2014 regardless. No team in the NFL is going to play harder and play nastier football than these Rams.