Mel Kiper, ESPN's venerable draft analyst has been phoning it in for years now. I'm not really sure if it's one of those situations where he used to be good at what he did and just threw it in cruise control when he got paid or if he's just an early adopter that was in the right place at the right time. Either way, the gray hair just ain't what he used to be. Still, he's a big enough name that when he farts out some content, we're required to listen.
Kiper cranked out a short look at team-by-team draft needs this week, giving us a sneak peak at what he thinks about the St. Louis Rams and their two first-round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. Let's take a look.
To the surprise of nobody that has watched the Rams this season ... or last ... or the year before that ... or anytime since 2006 really, Kiper puts wide receiver and offensive tackle at the top of the needs list. Yes, we know these needs. We know this because over the years the Rams have had a combination of Jay Zygmunt, Tony Softli and Billy Devaney running the personnel department, like a Frankenstein version of Gene Smith sewn together with the frail thread of Tye Hill's damaged confidence.
Here's where things get weird with Kiper. His third need for the Rams: running back.
Someone's not reading their notes from 2012.
Yes, the Rams are losing Steven Jackson next season. It's sad to lose super stars, but it's even worse to pay them $7 million to do things that a seventh-round pick can do. Daryl Richardson is not SJ39, let's get that straight right now.
But the Rams also drafted a running back in the second round this year. His name is Isaiah Pead. You can be forgiven if you forgot he was on the team considering he rarely plays. Mel Kiper, a well-compensated NFL draft analyst cannot be forgiven for such a mistake.
Back to Pead.
Clearly, he's struggling, but even the most cynical fan would be hard pressed to give up on him now. For one thing, with SJ and Richardson, there just aren't many touches to give to Pead. That's going to change over the next eight games, because the team has invested a second-round pick in Pead.
Sure, you can make the case that the Rams could use a do-it-all type player at running back, but not when they have Pead and Richardson on the roster.
Fine. Let's see what else Kiper had to say about the Rams' roster needs.
The Rams have made considerable progress this season, and have a very bright future given not just all the young talent, particularly on defense, but what they'll be capable of adding over the next two years because of the added first-rounders coming from the trade with Washington. While the team has hopes for Brian Quick, whom they drafted at wide receiver in Round 2 in April, they still need to find another pass-catching threat. I think they also must work to button up pass-blocking that leaves Sam Bradford constantly vulnerable to big hits. The situation at tackle isn't very good. Another value at running back will also come into play.
That's content hidden behind ESPN's Insider subscriber pay wall. Pay walls will NEVER work on the internets, and this is a pretty good example of why.
Kiper does drop a name to know, Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins. A 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior, he's been part of a productive Clemson offense, thanks in part to being paired with Sammy Watkins. Hopkins is nearing school records for touchdown catches and yardage, which speaks to his natural ability to catch the ball anywhere around his wide catch radius.