I admit I haven't been able to follow the draft because I had other obligations and I'm extremely happy that I did miss it. All that anticipation over who the Rams will draft and then my heart would get deflated at another need ignored. I'm all for picking the best player available - to a certain extent. But the Rams took that mantra to the extreme the past three days.
In my honest opinion, they ignored all but two true needs. They addressed their defensive back depth with a safeties and a cornerback drafted between the 5th-7th rounds. They also addressed the need to have another pass rusher for when James Hall retired. That's it. Those are the only two needs they addressed. Make a list of Top 10 needs and they addressed exactly zero Top 5.
They needed a backup running back, a starting outside linebacker, a starting offensive guard, a starting safety, and #1 wide receveiver. They did exactly zero of these things. And if anyone wants to convince me that the 5th round safety will become a starter, well let's just say that you have too much faith in the front office. Or that Greg Salas or Austin Pettis will be #1 wide receivers. I went into the draft will the full intention of giving the front office the benefit of the doubt. But I expected them to fill their needs not clog the roster.
I'm going to go through the picks and act like it is my first time seeing them. Then I will tell you why I hate it or love it.
Round 1 - Robert Quinn
Love it: Ok, Round 1 is in and I am in full agreement with the pick. It is a Top 5 talent in the middle of the first round and we addressed a need in defensive end. While defensive end is far from our biggest need, the other possible choices are not great. Mike Pouncey at #14 is a little too high for a guard, Jones and Green are both already off the board, and I don't like Corey Liuget in the first place much less to pick him over Quinn. There are no legitimate outside linebacker prospects worth drafting at this point.
Grade - A (The talent is A+, but need is more of a B-level need than an A-level need)
Round 2 - Lance Kendricks
Hate it: What the hell? Alright, well let's just look at his scouting report. He is a pass catching tight end with no blocking skills. Ok, but don't we already kind of have a few TE options ourself. We have a potential.. pass-catching tight end in Michael Hoomanawanui. We have a project in Fendi Onobun. And we have old reliable in Daniel Fells. So we have an experienced tight end who will at least be serviceable, a potential starter with injury problems, and an all-potential no results tight end. What was wrong with that? I would have drafted Stephen Paea or Marvin Austin at DT. Let's assume the front office plans to sign Barry Cofield. What about Rodney Hudson, the offensive guard. Mikel LeShoure at Illinois for running back. You can't convince me the front office wasn't sold on any of those players. We had a surplus of options at positions of needs.
Grade - B- (Talent is B+ as he might be slight reach, need on team is C)
Round 3 - Austin Pettis
Hate it: For the record, I only hate this because I didn't want a wide receiver outside of the 1st round or one that does not have potential to be a #1 wide receiver. Pettis doesn't fit that bill. At least, he provides something different as he is tall, crafty route runner, and somewhat reliable. He'll probably become an average wide receiver and pan out. However, we do have a few of those already.
Grade - B (Talent and need are about the same at B)
Round 4 - Greg Salas
Hate it: This one I legitimately hate. Ok, maybe you can make the argument that we need a taller #2 receivers. In fact, you'd probably have a good argument. But Salas is just so repetitive and pointless. If you don't like the Pettis pick, you have to hate this pick. Now we have seven #2-3 wide receivers on our roster and still zero #1 wide receivers. I honestly don't know what Salas is. But either way I hate it. If he is like Pettis and is reliable and catch, it's repetitive. If he's like Avery and fast, it's repetitive. Either way, we already have his skillset and we continue to ignore our biggest needs.
Grade - D (I have need at F-, but apparently he was a steal in the 4th - So was Gilyard though...)
Round 5 - Jermaile Hines
TBD: I don't love this pick, because he sounds like Craig Dahl 2.0 and because he was a big reach according to Walter Football. I don't hate this pick because we did needed to draft a safety. Hines is a reliable tackler with coverage issues. Holy cow that sounds exactly like Dahl. Granted, I have no problem with getting Dahl-type player in Round 5, but we did kind of pass up on Rodgers and we still have not solved any of our needs.
Grade - C (Talent is D for when we picked him, Need is a B)
Round 7 - Jabara Williams, Jonathan Nelson, Mikail Baker
Love it: Loving picks in Round 7 does not absolve you from the draft. I'm kind of weirded out that this is the second year in a row where the Rams have gone defensive back and OLB in the 7th. That said we got a solid OLB-type, and depth at defensive back which is all you can ask for in Round 7. Unfortunately, we still need a starting OLB, starting offensive guard, #1 WR, and a starting caliber safety (which I don't think Butler, Dahl, or Stewart is).
Grade - B (I can't give them an A because this is the seventh round)
Overall Grade - C+
I think this grade is generous to be honest. What other team could honestly ignore the five biggest needs and be given a C+? None of the picks except for Salas is terrible, but combined the draft produced little in the way of filling needs. I'm more of a person who likes for holes to be filled so when I found out who we drafted, you can understand why I might be disappointed of our picks.
I expect a few comments about how we are supposed to wait and see how they pan out, but the problem that it's a fan's duty to grade a draft immediately after and see how dumb we look later. I want to look like the biggest moron in the planet in 1-2 years. I'm sorry I just cannot fully trust a FO that has never had a draft where they picked in the middle. If they hit on a few picks this year, then I will fully trust them. But I hate to say this: Ramchop has a good point that in recent year's they've been given Top 5 picks so the talent is there. There's something to be said about drafting a player that doesn't bust, but they haven't really proven to be excellent drafters. They aren't the Patriots.
So Kendricks, Pettis, Salas Hines... make me look like an idiot. Because if I'm smart, then the Rams will have some future problems.