The NFL draft is in less than 100 days, and we Ram fans are attempting to discern the perfect strategy for our team should take. With the 2nd overall pick, many of us are hoping the Rams trade down, with our trading partner being a team most willing to part ways with a bundle of picks. In the event the Rams stay at #2, we will undoubtedly select Matt Kalil, the offensive tackle from USC. While there are a few, such as draft analyst Mike Mayock, who have fellow tackle Reilly Reiff ranked ahead, Kalil is a tackle who would instantly bolster our line. With excellent athleticism and above average pass blocking, he would be an instant upgrade over bust Jason Smith. In this mock however, we will trade with the Redskins. Mike Shannahan has already made it evident they would trade up to select Robert Griffin, and will offer good compensation( was never any doubt of that with Dan Synder as owner?). The Rams will receive the Redskins 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 1st for next season.
The draft will go as follows:
Rd 1, Pick #6: Reilly Reiff, LT, Iowa. Despite Kalil being gone, Reiff is not a bad consolation prize. He is more balanced than Kalil, with a slightly lower ceiling. Still would be an upgrade at the tackle spot, which can allow Saffold to shift over to the right side. If the Rams choose to restructure Smith's contract and keep him, he could be moved inside along with Dahl, possibly eliminating the Rams need for an interior lineman. Also, Jeff Fisher recently stated he would like to build from the lines out, and looking at his draft history, this is certainly not a stretch.
Rd 2, Pick #33: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson. Although most see the Rams picking Zach Brown at the beginning of the second round, I don't believe this is the case. While Pops and Chamberlain, to mention a few, are not the answer at Olb, defensive tackle is more of a pressing need. Ranking dead last against the run is concerning, and needs to be addressed early. Look for the Rams to potentially double dip in this area, with the other DT coming from free agency(Jason Jones?). Thompson is a disruptive force, and will wreak havoc in the run game. While his pash rush isn't top notch, he will get more chances with attention going to our defensive ends, particularly on twists and stunts.
Rd 2, Pick #38: Mohamed Sanu, Wr, Rutgers. The sexy pick for the Rams would be taking Justin Blackmon, but the offensivelly challenged Browns took him fourth overall. Sanu is a very good option at the top of round 2. With an ideal body frame and good speed, Sanu has the physical traits to succeed in the NFL. He also can work all levels of the field, and is a decent run blocker. With Schottenheimer expressing the imprint of the two back system, Sanu would be a better fit than a receiever that solely stretches defenses, such as Kendall Wright.
Rd 3, Pick 66: Sean Spence, Olb, Miami: Its time for the Rams to address their need at Olb. The only knock on Spence is his size, however his production at Miami is hard to ignore. He possesses ideal speed for an outside linebacker, and flows to the ball extremley well. He also excels in the area of pass coverage, and is very instictive. Adding bulk would be ideal, as his run defense will improve and he will have a better ability to shed blocks.
Rd 4, Pick 96: Kennan Robinson, Olb, Texas: The Rams just picked an outside linebacker, but help is desparatley needed, besides better athletes are needed for Gregg William's aggressive style of defense. Robinson has been a steady producer for Texas, and is very underrated. He is fast, physical, and has a great nose for the ball. With Robinson and Spence flanking Laurinaitis, our linebacking core would be instantly upgraded, both in pass coverage and slightly in run support.
Rd 4, Pick 102: David Molk, C, Michigan: With the Redskins 4th round pick, we will select the winner of the 2011 Rimmington award. Selecting a centre is not a pressing need, however it should not be avoided. Despite being slightly undersized, Molk is a good run blocker, able to open up holes effectively. He is also an average pass blokcer, which is something Sam desperatley needs.
Rd 5 Pick was traded to Denver in exchange for Brandon Lloyd.
Rd 6, Pick 160: Cyrus Gray, Rb, Texas A&M. Although a complimentary running back to SJax is really needed, I did not slate a running back until this late because finding a running back late to produce is not uncommon. Gray is a running back who's skill set would perfectly compliment Jacksons. With a variety of moves and slashing speed, Gray could be the back we have been missing. He is also regarded as a player with a very high work ethic, recently earning some praise from coaches.
Rd 7, Pick 192: Joe Halahuni, Fb, Oregon State. The Rams will select a fullback late to upgrade over Britt Miller. Halahuni works well out of the backfeild, catching 31 passes last year. He is an ideal H-back, think Charles Clay. He also has adequate blocking skills, which would help the running game.
Rd 7, Pick 194: Janzen Jackson, FS, McNeese State. With our final pick, taking a risk on a once highly regarded safety is not a bad decision. He would add depth, with starter potential. If the off field problems clear up, Jackson could be a player the Rams would covet.
Some Free Agent Options:
Jason Jones, Dt, Titans. Jones is a solid starter, and moving back inside he should be able to contribute both in the run and pass game.
Martellus Bennett, Te, Cowboys. This signing is with the hope Kendricks pans out in year 2. Bennett has proven he can be effective as the second tight end, and with Illinois Mike injury prone, Bennett can be a solid second option.
Wesley Woodyard, Olb, Broncos. Woodyard is a young(26) outside linebacker, who may have been an acceptional starter if not for D.J Williams. He will get his opportunity elsewhere, hopefully in St.Louis.