With the fifteenth pick in the 2013 NFL Draft the New Orleans Saints select John Jenkins, NT, Georgia.
Next we address the #16 pick in the draft - The The St. Louis Rams are on the clock.
#16 St. Louis Rams. Needs - RT, S, SLB. The Rams revamped their roster this past season. They had 35 new faces on the team in 2012 and only brought back 18 players from the 2011 squad. The Rams were the youngest team in the NFL in 2012. That desperately needed infusion of youth and talent helped the Rams finish at 7-8-1. The Rams improved on both sides of the ball this past year, with the biggest improvement coming from the defense. That unit finished tied with the Broncos for 1st in the NFL in sacks with 52. The D finished tied for 14th in points allowed (21.8/game), 15th against the pass, and 15th against the run. The one real disappointment came in the turnover department, where the Rams ranked 23rd in the NFL by forcing only 21 turnovers. The INT numbers were OK (17) and good enough for 11th in the League, but the Rams only forced a paltry 12 fumbles and recovered only 4 for the season, good for 31st in the NFL. For some reason, their fumble recovery rate was 1/2 that of the NFL average, placing them with the likes of the Eagles and Chiefs in that department.
On offense, the team did improve, but still struggled for consistency and finished in the lower half of the League in passing yards (18th) and rushing yards (19th). The Rams averaged a paltry 18.7 points per game, good for 25th in the NFL. The O-line did improve as the season went on, and finished in the middle of the pack as far as QB sacks allowed, with 35 allowed for the season. But Sam was running for his life for much of the season and had little time to throw, and running lanes were hard to come by. That hurts the overall performance of the offense.
So what do the Rams do with their first 1st round pick? I've heard a lot of talk about the Rams defense being "elite", or on the verge of being so, and as such the FO needs to focus on the offensive side of the ball in the 1st round. I only offer a word of caution in saying the Rams are scarily thin on the defensive side of the ball. The D-line is probably in the best shape, as long as Hayes is re-signed. The LB corps has no depth at all. The secondary will lose Fletcher in FA, and there isn't any real depth there either. Safety is a mess. The Rams will face Kaepernick and Wilson 4 times a year, and they're going to need plenty of athletes to keep those guys in check. The Rams have some playmakers on defense, but if an elite playmaker is there at 16, I don't think they can afford to pass him up.
The offense actually has more depth than the defense, but is in more need of playmakers. The WR position is deep, but other than Givens, lacked explosiveness in 2012. Will Quick bring something to the table in 2013? Or does the FO think there is a WR that is worthy of the 16th pick that can come in and help right away? The O-line actually played OK considering all of the injuries. The FO and coaching staff did an amazing job in finding guys to step in and then coaching them up once they were in the game. That being said, the Rams need to upgrade their O-line if they want to take that next step toward becoming a playoff team. Sam and the WRs will not reach their potential without quality O-line play. They really need a RT, and could use an upgrade at both Guard positions (Watkins showed little other than his ability to be fat and out of shape & Dahl may be cut to free up cap space). So, who do the Rams take with their first 1st rounder?
Picks so far:
#1 Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
#2 Jacksonville Jaguars - Bjoern Warner, DE, FSU
#3 Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
#4 Philadelphia Eagles - Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
#5 Detroit Lions - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
#6 Cleveland Browns - Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
#7 Arizona Cardinals - Geno Smith, QB, WVU
#8 Buffalo Bills - Mike Glennon, QB, NC St.
#9 New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
#10 Tennessee Titans - Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio St.
#11 San Diego Chargers - Eric Fisher, OT, CMU
#12 Miami Dolphins - Keenan Allen, WR, California
#13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi St.
#14 Carolina Panthers - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
#15 New Orleans Saints - John Jenkins, NT, Georgia