I know, I know... Another mock draft. In fact, by now, I'd be surprised if anyone even reads this. Mock drafts and armchair punditry are at a crescendo, so I thought I'd add to the mix. This mock might not be new, and it certainly isn't shocking or innovative, but I wanted to get an idea if I am on the right track in my own thinking about the direction of the team. One note, please take it easy on me. Might I be totally off-base? Yup. Might you also be wrong? Again, yes. Here goes...
First, I think the first five picks will go as follows:
1) Andrew Luck - Already confirmed
2) RGIII - Again, WAS didn't give all those 1st round picks for Ryan Tannehill. All but confirmed
3) Matt Kalil - This makes too much sense not to be the pick
4) Trent Richardson - Justin Blackmon also makes sense, but like Kalil to the Vikings, T-Rich makes too much sense. Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya sit atop their depth chart at RB. Enough said.
5) Morris Claiborne - Ronde is getting old, Talib might be going to jail, and they have V-Jax and Mike Williams.
And with the Rams' picks...
1st rd - Justin Blackmon, WR - Big shock. With those other top-tier prospects off the board, Blackmon makes the most sense. Many argue that he isn't a true #1 WR-type, but few will go so far as to say that he won't be good. He has the best chance of any WR in this class of stepping in and being productive from day one. And when you consider the fact that the Rams can draft a player like Robert Woods or Keenan Allen next year, that combination could be scary. He may not be Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but he'll be good, and at this point, I'll take a good WR.
2nd rd - Pick 33 - Kevin Zeitler, OG - It looks as if the team is ready to roll into 2012 with Saffold and Smith. I know that makes some of us queasy, but if this report is true, it is at the very least encouraging. The situation at LG is a bit different. No offense to Bryan Mattison or Robert Turner, but LG is clearly in need of improvement. Zeitler does not grade out as well as DeCastro, but most "experts" agree that while he lacks tremendous upside, he also lacks any downside, and should be an instant starter for the team that drafts him. He led a run-heavy attack at Wisconsin--with a nation-leading 142 knockdown blocks and 33 blocks leading to TDs--and if Fisher's past holds true, his run-blocking prowess can be utilized to great advantage by the Rams.
2nd rd - Pick 39 - Lavonte David, OLB - Like Zeitler, David does not possess much downside, and is a safe bet to be a contributor from day one. Also like Zeitler and the LG position, I'll crap if Justin Cole is our starting WLB. David was an absolute tackling machine at Nebraska, and described by his HC as "a coaches dream". Many naysayers point to his lack of size, and suggest his only real position in the NFL is at Will. Well, it just so happens we need one. If the team can acquire 2 day one starters and instant contributors in round two, I think this draft will already be a success.
3rd rd - Alameda Ta'amu, DT - Need a run-stuffer? How does a 6'3" 350 lb. beast sound? Sounds good to me, too. Long ago I thought the Rams would be lucky to get him in the 2nd round, but scouts now project him in round 3. If he falls to us, I think he will be a great addition to the D-Line.
4th rd - Robert Turbin, RB - The 4th round an on are upside picks. Turbin is the definition of an upside pick. I had the chance to watch him live this season, as he ran all over my hometown Fresno State Bulldogs for 145 yards. On the season, he rushed for 1517 yards, and 19 TDs and caught 17 passes for 171 yards and 4 TDs. He has also been noted as one of the best blocking RBs in the draft. The knocks on him are that he played for Utah St. and tore his ACL in 2010, but if he stays healthy and motivated, he looks every bit the part of an NFL RB. I see him as the 3rd best all-around RB, behind T-Rich and Doug Martin.
6th rd - Miles Burris, OLB - I'm glad to see him getting some love here on TST recently. He is another small-school product who would probably be higher up on the list if he played for a big-time school. He is another player I had the chance to see live, as among his 6 tackles were 2 sacks of Fresno St. QB Derek Carr--yes, David's brother. He is a high-effort player who will push Dunbar to start the season, and could take over for him as the season progresses. He has all the qualities one would want from a 6th round Sam LB.
7th rd - Pick 209 - Ronald Leary, OG - Already mentioned in a previous post regarding pre-draft visits to Rams Park, Leary would be a perfect project player for the Rams late in the draft. He was Co-MVP of his Memphis team, with Dontari Poe, as an OT, but most experts agree he would fit best as an OG in the NFL. Either way, he would provide flexibility for a team with a shaky RT. If Smith falters, he could play RG, with Dahl moving to RT. If he proves his chops, he could even replace Smith at RT in a pinch. Probably wouldn't be ideal to ask for much from him in year one, but could be a low-risk, high upside pick to be a future starter, or multi-position reserve.
7th rd - Pick 252 - Cliff Harris, CB - Too good to pass up in this spot. Harris hasn't played in a while, and has a drawer full of red flags. Couple that with a poor showing at the combine and pro-day, and he is now projected as a 7th round or undrafted player. Who knows if he has learned his lesson. Who knows if Fisher and co. can get the most out of him and keep his head out of his ass. With the 2nd to last pick in the draft, it is worth a shot. If he can realize his potential, the Rams will have a ridiculous CB tandem and an extremely talented KR/PR. If not, oh well.
So, for those brave souls who managed to read this far, what do you think? Am I way off base? Or, do I have something here? Either way, thanks for reading. Go Rams!