St. Louis Rams Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Rams Can Find in Every Round
The St. Louis Rams will have a chance to compete in 2015, but the team will need to draft rookies capable of contributing instantly. A solid draft performance could transform the team into an NFC West contender.
The offense continues to be the primary concern. The unit has weighed down the entire team since the arrival of head coach Jeff Fisher in 2012. If the Rams can finally bring the offense up to the defense's level, it will transform St. Louis into a formidable franchise.
The offensive line continues to be the most glaring weakness and rightfully so, but there's not a single offensive unit that has been performing up to expectations in recent years. With such underwhelming production across the board, literally every position on offense would welcome an upgrade of talent.
This article will mock the 2015 draft and propose a potential immediate difference-maker for each round. Not every pick will go toward the offense, but every player listed has chance to make an instant impact.
Round 1: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
Many mock drafts have St. Louis selecting an offensive lineman with the No. 10 pick, and it's no mystery why. However, a top-10 selection is a chance to find a long-term franchise player, so it's important the Rams don't squander the pick just to address a temporary need.
It's that type of thinking that allowed the Rams to steal away Pro Bowler Aaron Donald from the 2014 draft instead of a lesser talent, such as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (safety was considered a glaring need at the time).
Alabama's Amari Cooper was one of the most electric and unstoppable players in the entire NCAA last season. He overwhelmed defenses with 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2015. He can't pass block, but his playmaking skills can transform an offense.
Many of Cooper's highlights include deep touchdown passes, but don't be fooled. He's not a mere deep-ball specialist. He's an excellent route-runner and has the guts to make tough catches across the middle. He's a legitimate possession receiver.
The Rams have added first-round players such as Sam Bradford and Tavon Austin in the recent past in hopes of finding an offensive superstar. The team has yet to find such a game-changer on offense, but drafting Cooper would make up for those failed attempts.
Round 2: G Laken Tomlinson, Duke
If the Rams fail to draft an offensive lineman in Round 1, as in this scenario, you can bet the house that they'll find one in Round 2.
Luckily, Laken Tomlinson could easily be considered the best player available if he's still around when the Rams are on the clock. This would allow the Rams to plug a gaping roster hole without reaching to fill a need.
Tomlinson can be a Week 1 starter at either guard position. He's raw as a run-blocker and needs some development in that department, but his pass blocking is top-notch. He'll keep Nick Foles upright and give his quarterback time to make game-changing plays.
When it comes to finding a safe second-round pick who fills a need and can start immediately, it doesn't get any better than Tomlinson.
Round 3: C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
As of now, it's unclear if the Rams will roll with third-year pro Barrett Jones at center or search for a new starter. If it's the latter, then Hroniss Grasu would make an excellent third-round addition.
Grasu is capable of pushing Jones for the starting job and could very well be a Day 1 starter. Between Grasu and Jones, one of them should be able to step up and serve as an upgrade over 2014 starter Scott Wells.
Grasu is an excellent pass-blocker and has plenty of experience with dropping back thanks to Oregon's high-octane offense. His run blocking will need to be developed, but he has the potential to improve in that area.
Even if the Rams are ready to count on Jones at center in 2015, the team should still draft a center at some point given his history with injuries.
Round 4: RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
Fisher wants to run the football as much as possible, so adding another talented back is always a possibility. It's not an immediate need, but St. Louis has drafted a running back every year since Fisher took over.
Benny Cunningham—a former undrafted rookie—has served well as the third-down back, but he can certainly be upgraded. Adding Michigan State's Jeremy Langford gives the Rams another every-down back in case Tre Mason goes down.
Langford finished with the top 40-yard-dash time at the NFL combine among running backs (4.42 seconds). He also pieced together an outstanding 2015 campaign, ending the year with 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns.
The Rams can get by just fine with the current stable of backs, but adding Langford to the rotation would instantly improve the run game and give the Rams better insurance in case of an injury.
Round 6: LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia
James Laurinaitis has been one of the few bright spots since 2009, but the acquisition of Akeem Ayers could very well make Laurinaitis the weak spot of the front seven.
Since Laurinaitis is such a popular figure among fans, this is a scenario that will inevitably bother many people. However, Rams fans should be prepared for Laurinaitis being phased out. If not this year, then sometime in the next two or three years.
Georgia's Ramik Wilson is not a threat to directly replace Laurinaitis in the middle, but his presence as a starter on the outside could force St. Louis to rearrange the lineup. If Wilson plays at strong-side linebacker, Ayers and Alec Ogletree could potentially man the other two spots (both Ayers and Ogletree are capable of playing the middle).
That might not be a 2015 occurrence, especially since Laurinaitis is still healthy and contributing. But even so, Wilson can be a Day 1 contributor on special teams.
Even if the pick is merely for depth, Wilson would make an excellent Day 3 pickup.
Round 7: S Jermaine Whitehead, Auburn
We all know general manager Les Snead is infatuated with Auburn players, so keep an eye on safety Jermaine Whitehead in the final round.
The Rams have been doubling up on strong safeties and don't even have a true free safety on the roster. Even if the team is satisfied with that arrangement, it'd still be wise to add a free safety just to diversify the lineup.
Whitehead was a three-year starter and four-year contributor for Auburn. He also finished as a top performer in three different combine events among safeties (broad jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle).
With Whitehead's athleticism and experience, he'll be an immediate impact player on special teams.