Hey guys, first off want to wish everyone a happy new year, hope it turns out to be a great year for us all.
Going into next season, the Rams have a number of free agents which they must make decisions on:
Kellen Clemens- I believe the Rams need to resign him, although only if he can be kept relatively cheap, and if Schotty is retained as the OC. Austin Davis showed decent flashes, however he is still an unpolished quarterback. Also, Clemens started in Schotty's system while with the Jets, so keeping him is like having an extra quarterback coach for Sam.
Steven Jackson- This is the big one, as Steven has been the heart and soul of our team for a while now. His $7 million option is expected to be voided, however I fully expect him to be back if a "hometown discount" can be reached. If he leaves in hopes of solidifying a contending team there would be no hard feelings, as he deserves it if that's what he chooses.
Danny Amendola- Another tough one; the boom-or-bust of our free agent class. I say bust in relation to his dubious injury history. I don't think the Rams should break the bank for him, however Sam needs his security blanket, and Amendola has proven to be an elite slot weapon when he is healthy. He most likely will be back, however I think it will be a mistake if the Rams hand him a long term deal.
Brandon Gibson- The preseason all star, Gibson has actually been playing some decent football in recent weeks, showing a developing connection with Sam. That being said, I believe they should only give him a one year deal, as he needs to prove he's consistent before anything else.
Steve Smith- Nothing to say here, he will not be back
Mike McNeill (Exclusive Rights FA)- Still young and cheap, McNeill will be brought back with the intention of providing depth only
Barry Richardson- Richardson is not a starting tackle, however the Rams could do worse for depth. That being said, I prefer Wayne Hunter as our swing tackle, meaning they should only bring Richardson back on a one year insurance deal (which hopefully they choose to move on from)
Robert Turner- Turner more then held is own starting at center when Wells was out, and then at left guard when he came back. Turner should be brought back as depth, and an interior spot starter when somebody goes down or is playing rather poorly.
Chris Williams- Coming over from Chicago midseason, he has potential as a former first round pick, however I do not see him being resigned, the Rams already have Shelley Smith and Rok Watkins as other depth players at guard.
Tim Barnes (Exclusive Rights FA)- A practice squad favourite of the front office, Barnes will be back as a backup centre
Jermelle Cudjo (Exclusive Rights FA)- Cudjo was a decent rotational d tackle this year, and the Rams can bring him back on the cheap.
Trevor Laws- Injured before the season even started, Laws, the former second round pick, should be open to a new one year deal, and could provide value as a quality depth player.
William Hayes- Hayes has enjoyed a breakout season this year, raking up 7 sacks and grading out as the 11th best 4-3 d lineman against the run, according to pro football focus. Hayes should definently be resigned, as he provides quality depth while servicing as a great situational pass rusher as well.
Justin Cole(RFA)- Cole should be brought back as a special teamer and depth
Mario Haggan- Despite being a serviceable backup and decent special teamer, the Rams should move on from Haggan, as he can be replaced through the draft.
Rocky Mcintosh- Rocky should be resigned on a one year deal, as he has proven to be a decent starting outside linebacker, who will be the fourth linebacker if the Rams choose to address the position during the draft.
Darian Stewart(RFA)- Stewart has personally been a favourite, however has fallen into the doghouse of Jeff Fisher, as he couldn't even beat out Craig Dahl. I think he should be brought back, as he has the potential, and will provide some quality depth.
Craig Dahl- Ahh Craig Dahl, not much to say on him, we all know how much he struggles. The only way he'd be back is as a special teamer (he is pretty good in that area) however Matt Daniels will be back from injury, and Dahl is not needed.
Bradley Fletcher- Fletcher is not a bad corner, however has struggled to find playing time and is number four on the depth chart. I think the Rams move on from it, as cheaper alternatives can be had to play in obvious past situations.
After a successful first season under Jeff Fisher, the Rams end up with the sixteenth pick in the upcoming draft. For this mock, we will assume Washington is bounced from the first round by Seattle, and we have the 21st selection as well.
1.16-TRADE! I know many of you may disagree with this notion, however this is a mock draft, where anything can happen. Chicago trades their first rounder (#20) and their second (#50) in exchange for #16. This happens because the three teams picking between the Rams and Bears (Steelers, Cowboys, and Giants) all have offensive line woes, and the bears are not willing to risk losing out on either Warmack or Eric Fisher (Joeckel, Lewan, and Matthews have already been drafted by the Eagles, Cardinals, and Dolphins respectively)
1.20- Matt Elam, S, Florida. This may seem like a reach to many, however with the new rookie wage scale the Rams can afford to take these gambles. Elam is an underrated safety, as he is rangy when covering the pass, and is not afraid to lay a big hit in the run game. Elam will form a solid duo with Quintin Mikell, and will be an ideal fixture at our safety spot for years to come.
*P.S* Remember, the Rams traded down last year and ended up with Brockers; many of us disagreed with that but he has turned out to be a solid selection, and I'm sure nobody regrets it now
*P.P.S* I know many Rams fan think we need a left tackle, however not this year. Saffold is an above average LT who would struggle on the right side. Plus with propsects like Alabama's Cyrus Kouandijo and Stanford's David Yankey in the 2014 draft, the Rams will have another year to evaluate if Saffold can build on this year's success and is the answer.
1.21- Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina. With plenty of OLB's and RT's available for round 2, the Rams select the second best guard in the draft, who along with Harvey Dahl and Scott Wells will solidify the interior of the Rams line. Cooper is an extremley quick and athletic guard, who thrives in run blocking and can more than hold his own in pass protection.
2.47- Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers. The Rams address their need for outside linebacker with this selection. The Rams will have many to choose from, notably Greene, Stanford's Chase Thomas, K State's Arthur Brown, and Penn State's Gerald Hodges. While all are exceptional, Greene sticks out as the linebacker who could most help the defense. Speed is the name of Greene's game, and he is a linebacker who has a nose for the football, and flys all over the field. Greene is also a former safety in his first two seasons; he has the ability to match up well with any releasing tight end as well as running back.
2.50- Oday Abuishi, RT, Virginia. Aboushi is an elite pass protector, while being above average on the ground. With underrated athleticism and long arms, he is able to mirror his opponent perfectly, and stonewall any rush which comes his way. He will also be an asset in opening up run lanes, and help solidify the offensive line.
3.79- Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. The younger brother of Marcus, Desmond can be a solid cover corner for the Rams, coming in on obvious passing downs. Fisher has already stated his desire to move Finnegan to safety, which will most likely occur in two years, after Mikell's contract expires. Trufant's biggest knock is his consistency; by the time Finnegan shifts position he should have the position learned rather well, and form a remarkable trio with Jenkins and Johnson. Besides, in today's NFL, you can never have enough good corners.
4.111- Connor Vernon, Wr, Duke. The senior is a propsect who has a nice combination of size and quickness, along with a pair of reliable hands. The Rams don't need a wideout who can stretch the field, or man the slot. Along with the development of Quick and presence of Gibson and Pettis, I believe Vernon can work his way onto the field for the Rams, as a possession type #2, who will be an upgrade over Gibson
5.143- Nico Johnson, MLB, Alabama. Johnson is a quality run defender, who needs a little bit of work when covering the pass. He also has experience coming of the edge, however he would not be able to cover in those situations. He is a bit underrated due to the immense talent on the Alabama defense, and can provide solid depth to James Laurinaitis in the middle
6.175- Dri Archer, Wr/Rb/Kr/Pr- Kent State. Rumoured to run a 4.2 forty, Archer is drafted by the Rams solely to return kicks and punts. The Rams are not very good in that department, and Archer would be able to fix that rather quickly.
7.207- Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami. This year's version of Bryce Brown, Henderson was the #1 recruit coming out of high school, and is an athletic freak. He's worth a flier in the seventh round with hopes that he can develop into a quality NFL tackle.
NFL Free Agents
Jared Cook JR- A former player under Fisher, Cook reunites with him back in St.Louis. Immensely talented but heavily underused in Tennessee, Cook will form a solid 1-2 punch with Kendricks as the receiving tight end, although Kendricks himself is becoming a pretty solid wideout.
Max Starks, OT- if Richardson is not resigned, Starks can be brought in inexpensively on a one year deal; the Rams cannot go into the 2013 season with just one experienced tackle as a depth player.
Darryl Tapp, DE- Bring in another situational pass rusher, you can never have enough.
Jordan Senn, LB- A special teams ace, the Rams need one to replace Craig Dahl, and he won't have to play defense either
Ryan Mundy, S- Not a terrible safety, and can be used just as depth at the FS position
Projected Depth Chart
QB- Sam Bradford/Kellen Clemens/Austin Davis
FB- Lance Kendricks (When formation calls for)
LDT- Brockers/Sims(passing downs)Cudjo/Laws
Thanks for the read guys, let me know what you think!