The pre-draft hoopla is in full swing, and all of us Ram fans will be debating who we want the Rams to draft right up until the draft starts. And then immediately after the draft the debate will start on whether the Rams got it right or not. Whether we get it right or not doesn't really matter, but it's always fun to look back and see how your last mock compares to what really went down. Now that the Rams' 2012 season is over I decided to look back at my final mock, the night before the 2012 draft, and compare it to what the Rams actually did and grade my own "mocking" abilities. You will see that I list 2 players at each spot, the first being my #1 choice, the second being my choice if the first is already gone. "My Reasoning" is lifted straight from my mock last April.
My Reasoning - DT is the single biggest need for the Rams entering the draft. The Rams were absolutely horrible against the run in 2011. To have any chance of winning in 2012 they needed a young stud DT to help shore up the run D. But for me it's about more than just getting better against the run - it's also about not wasting the talents and shortening the career of JL55 by having him continuously clobbered by opposing O-linemen that didn't encounter much resistance from the interior of the Rams D-line. It's also about allowing Long & Quinn to do what they do best - rush the passer. By shoring up the run D the Rams not only become tougher to run on, but also protect JL55 and maximize his talents and that of their DEs. For the record, I want the Rams to take Cox/Brockers at #6, even if Blackmon is available.
Rams Pick - DT Michael Brockers
My Grade - C - I got the pick right, but rumor has it the Rams would've grabbed Blackmon were he still there at #6. So I got it right by default. I'm glad Blackmon wasn't there at #6, not only because I didn't want him, but because that's what triggered the trade that garnered the Rams an additional 2nd rounder.
#2a WR - Stephen Hill / Rueben Randle
My Reasoning - WR is the second largest need, and these two WRs are the best in the draft in my opinion - the most explosive, big play threats of the draft. Blackmon is the most NFL ready with the highest floor, but Hill and Randle have higher ceilings. Obviously the Rams passing game was poor in 2011, so Sam gets help here.
Rams Pick - WR Brian Quick
My Grade - C - I got the position right, but not the player. Frankly I was shocked by this pick. Not because I don't like Quick, because I had Quick as the third best receiver in the draft, but that was based purely on his potential, and he could have been drafted later in my opinion.
#2b OLB Lavonte David / DT Derek Wolfe
My Reasoning - As far as I can see heading into the draft, we have JL55 at LB and no one else. David is the best LB in the draft in my opinion and will fit nicely at WLB next to JL55. Wolfe can be another cog in the complete rebuilding of the D-line. He offers rotational versatility in that he could play DT and DE.
Rams Pick - CB Janoris Jenkins
My Grade - F - I whiffed on this one. Jenkins was a fantastic pick by the Rams. The #2 CB talent-wise in the entire draft in my opinion. To get a top 15 talent at #39 overall is awesome. Dunbar actually played really well at WLB for the Rams in 2012, so while I'd still rather have David than Dunbar, I'll take Jenkins over David at this point. Wolfe was off to Denver by this point too.
#2c This pick was acquired in the 1st round trade with Dallas, so I didn't mock it prior. But I was chanting - well more like yelling - for the Rams to take David, Osemele or Randle, in that order. "Come on guys, David, Osemele, or Randle, David, Osemele, or Randle..." "And with the 50th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft the St Louis Rams select... Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati." "Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!" I was stunned again. I Didn't even have Pead among my top 5 RBs. This is more about who they passed on than Pead himself for me. I'm done whining about David as Dunbar looks capable of playing at a high level for a while. But to pass on a starting RT in Osemele, who has earned high praise for his play with the Ravens this year, has produced a trickle down effect that the Rams are going to be dealing with in the 2013 draft and/or free agency. They wouldn't be worrying about needing a RT if they had taken him. Hell, if they draft Osemele, the Rams might've made the playoffs. Randle played really well for the Giants down the stretch, too. The Rams sure could've used him this past year. Now we're back to debating if the Rams need to take a WR in the 1st round yet again.... Oh, and Pead totally sucked this year and was beat out by the 2nd to last player taken in the entire draft.
#3 CB Trumaine Johnson
My Reasoning - The Rams secondary was a MASH unit in 2011 and needs a overhaul. Finnegan and Fletcher are the only viable CBs on the roster, so this pick makes sense. He played with Fisher's son at Montana. He's also a big, physical, ball-hawking CB, which is the type of CB I love.
Rams Pick - CB Trumaine Johnson
My Grade - C- Yes, I hit it dead on, but as you'll notice, I didn't even bother to pick another player here. Other than who the 1st four players drafted were going to be, this was the worst kept secret in the entire 2012 draft. Did anyone not know the Rams were taking Tru?
#4 RB Bernard Pierce / Robert Turbin
My Reasoning - SJax is getting old and it's time to draft his eventual replacement instead of signing crappy free agent has-beens or never-weres. A rotation at RB will keep SJax fresh, and he can also tutor the youngster. Pierce is more explosive, but Turbin has more power. Either will make me happy.
Rams Pick - WR Chris Givens
My Grade - F - Whiffed completely. Pierce was gone in the 3rd round. The Rams didn't want Turbin. I was ecstatic when the Rams drafted Givens, as I thought he was a good WR prospect, but I had no idea he would have the impact he did.
#5 CB Omar Bolden / S George Iloka
My Reasoning - The Rams need DBs, particularly CBs, and I love Bolden from ASU (knee injuries aside). The kid is a ball-hawk and top-notch playmaker when healthy. If it weren't for the injury history he'd be a 2nd rounder. Iloka can come in and compete for a Safety spot.
Rams Pick - G Rok Watkins
My Grade - D+ - I missed this pick, although as you'll see next, I still had Rok on my list, so I'm not giving myself an F. Bolden was gone by this point. Iloka was still there, and I think I would've liked to see him on the team maybe pushing Dahl out of the starting lineup rather than a fat and out of shape Watkins sitting on IR. And no, right now I don't see Watkins as the answer at LG - anyone who takes for granted being 1 of only about 250 people in the world who gets drafted into the NFL is an idiot. Maybe he'll grow up and prove me wrong.
#6 G Senio Kelemete / Rok Watkins
My Reasoning - The Rams O-line sucked in 2011, and needs an infusion of youth. Late round OGs that can play in the NFL are commonplace, and as a UW fan I saw Kelemete play a bit and I like him here. Watkins has versatility that intrigues me, having played T as well as G.
Rams Pick - PK Greg Zuerlein
My Grade - D+ - Hey, I picked Watkins, just a round later than the Rams did. Kelemete was long gone by this point. I don't like this pick by the Rams. I don't think GZ was going to be drafted. He could've been signed as a UDFA most likely. I'm still not sold on him. I don't like drafting kickers anyway.
#7a LB Vontaze Burfict / Najee Goode
My Reasoning - The Rams, even if they take David, still don't have anyone to play SLB on the roster. I figure this is the place to take a chance on Burfict. Hell, 7th rounders don't do much most of the time anyway so why not take a risk on him here? Najee Goode is a big, fast kid who can be a sideline to sideline LB. He played OLB before moving to the inside this past year.
Rams Pick - LB Aaron Brown
My Grade - A+ - Brown was cut, and Burfict is a stud for the Bengals. Goode is a back-up MLB for the Bucs. I get an A+ even though I whiffed on the pick because my picks are at least still in the NFL.
#7b CB Jeremy Lane / S Matt Johnson
My Reasoning - Heard the Seahawks like this Lane kid a lot through my friends in Washington. Don't know much about him other than he played at NW St, wherever the hell that is, but if the Seahawks like him, he's probably pretty good. Matt Johnson is also another tip from some buddies of mine down in Eastern Washington. They love the kid and say he can really play. Special teamers if nothing else - Good enough for me for the second to last pick in the draft.
Rams Pick - RB Daryl Richardson
My Grade - F- My buddies were on to something. Lane played really well for the Hawks, but he was gone by the 6th, and Dallas took Johnson in the 4th, which surprised me. Oh yeah, that Richardson guy was an awesome find by the rams FO.
So there it is, proof of my accuracy, or inaccuracy rather, in predicting what the Rams will do in the 2013 draft. I do have to say though, that I would've liked my draft if the Rams had gone that route too.