Will the Rams trade the 14th overall pick?

With a middling 2011 NFL Draft class and first round draft spot that might leave them wanting for a different pick, the St. Louis Rams seem like a prime candidate to trade down in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. 

From this vantage point it seems like that might hinge on whether or not they have a legitimate shot at Alabama WR Julio Jones. It's a weak draft class for first round receivers. Jones and fellow SEC alum A.J. Green (Georgia) are the only two players in the upper tier of their position this year. Green, who draws Larry Fitzgerald comparisons, will almost certainly be off the board in the first five or six picks. Whether or not Jones is gone by #14 remains to be seen, but it is very possible. 

That would leave the Rams in a strange spot.

They could try for an outside linebacker like UCLA's Akeem Ayers, but Spagnuolo and Co. have a documented history of preferring "system" guys who are solid in their role but not first round picks or the top tier of free agents. That's not to say that can't change. Defensive tackle would be the next most logical pick, from a needs standpoint, but there aren't really many DTs who fit that draft slot. 

Thus the trade talk. And just how difficult would it be for the Rams to make a trade down? Last year's draft had enough swapping going on to put any Marrakesh bazaar to shame. Some swaps in the general vicinity of the #14 spot:

 

  • #11- Denver had this pick from the Jay Cutler trade. They traded it to San Francisco (who picked OT Anthony Davis, whoops) for the 13th pick and a 4th round pick.
  • #12- Miami traded this pick, a 4th round and a 6th round pick to San Diego in exchange for their #28 pick, a 2nd round pick and a 4th round pick.
  • #13- Denver traded this one to Philadelphia for the Eagles' #24 and two 3rd round picks.
  • #14- This one is so bizarre that it's really hard to use here as a guidepost, it's here more as a cautionary tale. Seattle got this pick from Denver the year before when they traded it for a 2nd round pick...that they used on Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith...who they later traded for TE Dan Gronkowski. Thank God McDaniels isn't running our front office. 
  • #17- Throw this one out too...Carolina traded their first round pick to San Francisco in 2009 for a 2nd and 4th round pick. Funny, no teams traded a 2011 first rounder last year. 
In 2009, Cleveland traded the #17 pick to Tampa Bay for the 19th overall pick and a 6th round pick. Trading the 14th overall pick this year shouldn't be an obstacle, certainly not like trading the first overall pick in the draft with its gazillion guaranteed dollars. What kind of return GM Billy Devaney might get for the 14th pick just depends on how far down they want to trade. A pick in the later part of the first round, say #24 and beyond, might net them an extra pick on the second day of the draft. A pick just a few rungs down wouldn't add as much in the later rounds. 

Getting a few more picks in the middle to later rounds sounds like a great idea. It would certainly give the Rams the means to pick up some depth. However, a trade down would likely occur with the intent on grabbing a particular player, just as drafting a particular player would be the motivation for a team looking to get the 14th spot from Devaney. As far as receivers go, that might mean trading down to get someone like Jonathan Baldwin or Titus Young. Personally, I think it's more likely that they trade down to grab a defensive lineman like Corey Liuget or Cameron Heyward. Maybe they even think about trading down for an offensive lineman like Mike Pouncey or Stefen Wisniewski (who I like way more than Pouncey and he can play C). Finding a receiver would still seem to be the most obvious reason for a trade down.

After having high picks for the last three years, high picks that are hard to trade, this could be the year the Rams swing a draft day deal. Stay tuned. 
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