Jeff Fisher built a defensive juggernaut in Tennessee. In his first year leading the Rams, he’s upgraded our defense, and inspired a new level of nastiness uncharacteristic of previous St. Louis Ds. I believe he and Snead will use our 2013 first round picks to continue building our defense.
The following mock draft is based on several key assumptions. First, Jeff Fisher is a defensive minded coach. Second, the Rams will be able to successfully address its OL deficiencies through free agency. Third, Fisher and Snead will re-sign Amendola, and give Quick and Givens another year of development before potentially drafting more receivers.
True to form, Jeff Fisher’s focus proved to be defense using his first overall pick in last year’s draft to select Michael Brockers. In his 16 previous drafts with the Titans, a defensive player was selected in the first round 9 times. The instances that the Titans went offense with a first round pick, the player was a virtual lock. Past Titan’s offensive first rounders during Fisher’s tenure include Steve McNair, Eddie George, Chris Johnson, and Vince Young (seemed like a lock at the time).
Based on Fisher’s draft history of not selecting offensive linemen early, and the fact that the Rams have a decent amount of cap space going into 2013, I believe OL is more likely to be addressed through free agency. Enter right tackle, Andre Smith. Smith is a former first round pick (2009). The Bengals declined a two year option on Smith in 2011, making him a free agent after this season. He is a major reason Benjarvus Green-Ellis was able to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark this season, and would be a nice upgrade from Wayne Hunter at right tackle. 2013’s starting OL could be Saffold – LT, Watkins – LG, Wells – C, Dahl – RG, Smith – RT. This band of brothers should be able to keep Bradford on his feet better than any OL Sam has played behind.
Wide receiver has been the other soft spot for the Rams this season. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Amendola, whom the Rams will likely re-sign. We’ve also been surprised by the fast-paced development of Givens, who provides a viable deep threat. I’m still optimistic that Quick will take major strides with another off-season to learn the play book. I was certainly encouraged by his end-zone catch this past week against the Vikings. That’s exactly the kind of play the Rams drafted him to make. By the way, for someone who only has 11 receptions this season, two went for TDs.
Rd. 1a. Sheldon Richardson – DT/DE – Mizzou. Can you imagine how ridiculous our D-line would be with Quinn and Long on the outside, and Brockers and Richardson in the middle? Wow! Richardson is a strong pass rusher who would compliment Brockers’ run stopping ability well. He’s also said to be a fiery player with the potential to be a leader in the locker room.
Rd. 1b. Kenny Vaccaro – S – Texas. Vaccaro is said to be the complete package. Good run supporter, good tackler, and he can cover. He also has a high football IQ, and can be ready to play safety in the NFL day one.
Rd. 2. Tyler Eifert – TE – Notre Dame. Eifert could be the TE we thought we had when we selected Kendricks in the second round two years ago. Eifert will be a match-up nightmare for linebackers because of his quickness, and corners because of his size. Yes, please.
Rd. 3. Khaseem Greene – OLB – Rutgers. Former safety who will need to bulk up beyond 230 lbs. to be an effective OLB in the NFL. He’s an excellent tackler, and as a former safety, his speed could be helpful in covering TEs. Anyone remember Gronkowksi in London? Jaysus.
Rd. 4. Cyril Richardson – OG – Baylor. Richardson was named to AP All American’s 2nd team. At 6’5", 335lbs. this run blocker will add depth at the line.
Rd. 5. Kyle Long – OT – Oregon. Has NFL bloodlines as Howie Long is his father. That makes Chris Long his big brother. At this point, we’re simply adding depth at OT.
Rd. 6. Christine Michael – RB – Texas A&M. At 5-11, 215lbs he has good size for a running back and is described as a hard runner. His durability is an issue, but paired with D. Rich, we could have a nice pair of backs post-S.Jax.
Rd. 7. Russell Shephard – WR – LSU. He was an All-American QB in highschool and highly recruited by several D – I programs. He ended up solely playing WR for the Tigers, and hasn’t really produced. However, he’s versatile and could be a secret weapon for Fisher's bag of tricks. Basically it’s round 7, what the hell?
This free agency and draft scenario certainly fortifies and adds depth to our OL. It instantly makes our DL one of the best in the league, and strengthens a major weakness in our secondary. This draft also gives several of our young receivers a chance to develop for one more year under Fisher and Schotty. Plug in these players and the Rams will take another major step to becoming one of the dominate teams in the NFC.