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2011 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams' Draft Take

Jake CoxCorrespondent IApril 17, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams' Draft Take

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams hands the ball off to running back Steven Jackson #39 during their game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Gre
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The 2010 version of the St. Louis Rams gave us a glimpse of the future for this football team. 

    If the Rams continue to build up the talent base of this team, then the future is very bright in St. Louis.  Sam Bradford played very well for a rookie starting quarterback and he is now the face of the franchise. 

    Bradford had an excellent season in 2010, despite not having a whole lot of weapons around him at the receiver position.  He should only continue to get better, and I expect him to have some pro bowl seasons in his future.  Steven Jackson is still one of the top running backs in the NFL, but he’s got a lot of miles on him now. 

    The Rams need to find a compliment for him that can allow him to have a break every once in awhile.  None of the receivers currently on the team are true number one targets. 

    Donnie Avery, Mark Clayton, and the rest of the receiving group are no better than decent No. 2 options.  Look for the Rams to try and find a No. 1 receiver with their first-rounder. 

    Michael Hoomanawanui showed some potential in his rookie season, but the Rams may still try to find a number one tight end in this year’s draft.  The Rams have a pretty solid offensive line overall, especially at the tackle positions where they have Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold locked up for awhile.  They could use an upgrade over Adam Goldberg at guard, but Jacob Bell is solid at the other spot. 

    The defense line was very surprising last season, as both defensive ends James Hall and Chris Long posted excellent seasons.  They also found a solid backup pass rusher in the seventh round with George Selvie. 

    Fred Robbins played very well on the interior of the line, and the other tackle spot was held down by Gary Gibson.  Gibson may be replaced next season by a more physical presence in his starting position next season. 

    James Laurinaitis is the leader of the defense and he should be a force at the inside linebacker position for years to come.  The outside linebacker spots could both use some upgrades, as they had many different players start there last season, and none of them looked like potential starters. 

    The cornerback position has some young talent, with Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher as the starters.  2010 rookie Jerome Murphy has a lot of potential and he could challenge for the starting spot in a year or two. 

    Both safety positions are in need for upgrades, as current projected starters Craig Dahl and James Butler are more suited to be backups rather than starters.

2010 Draft Recap

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 05:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams scrambles to pass the football during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeate
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    1. (1) QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma: Bradford is the face of the franchise, and he proved he was worthy of the first pick with a great rookie season.  16 GP/ 16 GS

    2. (33) OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana: He stepped in right away at left tackle, and has entrenched himself as the blindside protector of the future.  16 GP/ 16 GS

    3. (65) CB Jerome Murphy, South Florida: He still has a little ways to go, but he has the potential to be a solid starter in the future.  14 GP/ 0 GS

    4. (99) WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati:  Gilyard really struggled in his rookie season, and I really only see him as a slot guy moving forward.  11 GP/ 2 GS

    5. (132) TE Michael Hoomanawanui, Illinois: He struggled with injuries, but he showed the potential to be a future starter and a nice weapon for the Rams.  8 GP/ 3 GS

    5. (149) DE Hall Davis, Louisiana-Lafayette: He never played for the Rams, as he was traded to the Redskins before the season.  0 GP/ 0 GS

    6. (170) TE Fendi Onobun, Houston: He is a very raw player who didn’t make it through much of the season due to injury.  3 GP/ 0 GS

    6. (189) DE Eugene Sims, West Texas A&M: Sims will never be a starter in this league, but he is a solid rotational player.  9 GP/ 0 GS

    7. (211) CB Marquis Johnson, Alabama: He will get a chance to make the team next season, but I don’t see him making much of an impact.  2 GP/ 0 GS

    7. (226) DE George Selvie, South Florida: Selvie had a nice rookie season as a seventh round pick, and he will only continue to improve.  16 GP/ 0 GS

    7. (254) ILB Josh Hull, Penn State: A potential backup who missed most of the season due to an early season injury.  1 GP/ 0 GS

    Summary: The Rams didn’t necessarily find a whole lot of impact players in this draft, but it has to be considered a success. 

    They were able to fill one of the two most critical positions on the football field, left tackle and quarterback, with this draft class.

    Grade: B+

Team Need: Wide Receiver

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Mark Clayton #89 of the St. Louis Rams warms up before their game against the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Sam Bradford had a very impressive season in 2010, but he had basically no weapons to throw to.  Just imagine how impressive he could be with a true No. 1 option. 

    This team actually has some solid depth with Mark Clayton, Donnie Avery, and Danny Amendola but these guys need to stay healthy.  None of those guys are anything other than No. 2 or 3 receivers, so look for St. Louis to use a top pick on this position.

    The Rams are in a position where they could add a top receiver in this draft in Round 1, and if Julio Jones is still on the board for the Rams, he will most likely be the pick.

Potential Wide Receiver Targets

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a long reception against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Round 1: Julio Jones

    Round 2: Leonard Hankerson, Jon Baldwin, Titus Young

    Round 3: Randall Cobb, Tandon Doss, Vincent Brown, Niles Paul

    Round 4: Austin Pettis, Cecil Shorts, Edmund Gates

    If Jones is available for the Rams, he is almost certain to be the pick. 

    He would give the Rams an instant No. 1 receiver who will make an immediate impact on the development of Sam Bradford. 

    Baldwin or Hankerson could be options in round two if they miss out on Jones in round one.

Team Need: Tight End

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 05:  Tight end Billy Bajema #47 of the St. Louis Rams rushes the football against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardin
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Rams may have found a solid option with Michael Hoomanawanui, but he struggled with injuries last season. 

    The Rams have basically nothing behind him, and he may not even be a starting caliber tight end anyways.  Look for the Rams to target this position early to surround Bradford with another weapon.

    The Rams can find a tight end in Round 2 or 3 who can come in and start right away.  I think this is a big need, and at the very least they need to find some depth at this position.

Potential Tight End Targets

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 03: Kyle Rudolph #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs after making a catch against the Washington Huskies on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Washington 37-30 in overtime.  (Pho
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Round 2: Kyle Rudolph

    Round 3: Lance Kendricks, D.J. Williams

    Round 4: Luke Stocker, Virgil Green, Charles Clay

    Round 5: Julius Thomas, Rob Housler

    Rudolph would be an excellent pickup in the second round of the draft if he is still available. 

    He’d provide an instant upgrade to the tight end position, and would give Bradford his first serious receiving option.

Team Need: Outside Linebacker

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    SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 13:  David Vobora #58 of the St. Louis Rams looks on the field during the game against the Seattle Seahawks on September 13, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Rams 28-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Both outside linebacker spots are a concern moving forward, and both could conceivably be updated in this year’s draft. 

    The Rams had six different starters at the outside linebacker position, so they need to find some more consistency at this position. 

    All of the current players give the Rams some good depth, but none of them are starting caliber players.

    The Rams have to find at least one starter in this offseason, but I could see them taking multiple players at this position to try and improve the quality of the starters.

Potential Outside Linebacker Targets

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 11:  Linebacker Mason Foster #40 of the Washington Huskies follows the play during the game against the Syracuse Orange on September 11, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Round 1: Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston

    Round 2: Mason Foster, Bruce Carter

    Round 3: Mark Herzlich, Chris Carter

    Round 4: K.J. Wright, Nate Irving, Lawrence Wilson

    Ayers would be a solid addition, but I think the Rams will go wide receiver in Round 1. 

    Foster and Carter in round two would be excellent additions, who would immediately take over the starting job at outside linebacker.

Team Need: Safety

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    ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 31: Oshiomogho Atogwe #21 of the St. Louis Rams celebrates a sack against the Carolina Panthers at the Edward Jones Dome on October 31, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Panthers 20-10.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Im
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Now that O.J. Atogwe has moved on to another team (Washington Redskins), both safety positions are a concern heading into next season. 

    The Rams now have basically nothing at the free safety position, and it should be a priority in the draft. 

    The strong safety spot is currently held down by Craig Dahl, but he is better suited to be a backup and special teams player.

    With both safety positions in need of an upgrade, I expect that the Rams will try to find at least one starting safety either in the draft or through free agency.

Potential Safety Targets

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    DALLAS - OCTOBER 17:  Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin #84 of the Texas Longhorns runs for a touchdown against Quinton Carter #20 of the Oklahoma Sooners at Cotton Bowl on October 17, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Round 2: Rahim Moore

    Round 3: DeAndre McDaniel, Tyler Sash, Jaiquawn Jarrett

    Round 4: Jeron Johnson, Deunta Williams, Quinton Carter, Robert Sands

    Round 5: Shiloh Keo, Eric Hagg

    The Rams may have a hard time passing up Moore if he is still available, but I think that they may wait until the mid rounds to upgrade this position. 

    Guys like Sands and Williams could come in right away and fill the spot that was previously held by Atogwe.

Team Need: Running Back

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    HONOLULU - JANUARY 30:  Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams, carries the ball during the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 30, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
    Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

    Steven Jackson is a workhorse and he is one of the best running backs in the league. 

    However, he has a lot of miles on him since coming to the NFL, and the Rams really need to find him a compliment. 

    He is the focal point of their offense, and if he goes down then the Rams would be in some serious trouble.  They currently lack a backup who could step in for him if he is injured.

    This most likely won’t be the highest of priorities heading into the draft, but they can still find a solid compliment for Jackson in the mid to late rounds.

Potential Running Back Targets

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    LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 20:  Running back Kendall Hunter #24 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys carries the ball during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on November 20, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Round 2: Daniel Thomas, Ryan Williams

    Round 3: Derrick Locke, Kendall Hunter, Dion Lewis, DeMarco Murray

    Round 4: Jordan Todman, Bilal Powell, Delone Carter, Jacquizz Rodgers

    Round 5: Darren Evans, Stevan Ridley, Noel Devine

    The best-case scenario for the Rams would be to take a change of pace back in the mid to late rounds who can give Jackson a break every once in a while. 

    Rodgers and Todman would be excellent options in the fourth round, and they’d give the Rams the depth at running back that they’ve been missing in recent years.

Other Possible Needs

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    ST. LOUIS - 2008:  Jacob Bell of the St. Louis Rams poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Cornerback: There isn’t a ton of depth behind Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher, but Jerome Murphy figures to play a bigger role in 2011.

    Defensive Tackle: Fred Robbins is a solid tackle, but Gary Gibson could be upgraded by a bigger and stronger player.

    Offensive Guard: The Rams need some depth at this position, and they also may look to bring in some competition for Adam Goldberg.

Team Draft Strategy

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams stands on the field during their game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Rams almost made the playoffs last season, but they still have a bunch of needs to fill before they can make a serious run to the playoffs. 

    Sam Bradford looks to be a potential future pro bowler, but they need to surround him with as many weapons as possible at the offensive skill positions. 

    The defense also has some solid players to build around, but there are still multiple needs to be addressed, particularly at the safety and outside linebacker positions.

    This draft could be a good mix of offensive and defensive players taken by the Rams, because they have multiple holes on both sides of the ball. 

    The Rams do have a chance to win the NFC West because it is such a weak conference, but they are not close to competing for a title anytime soon.

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