2013 NFL mock draft: Change of plans

John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Upon further review, the Rams may want to rethink their approach to the 2013 NFL draft.

Every day of every week this time of year bring a new take on the 2013 NFL Draft. New mocks are dropping all the time. Like pop singles on the Billboard list, they're usually pretty predictable and don't have legs to stick around for a long time. The conventional wisdom for the St. Louis Rams is taking an offensive lineman with the first pick, either a tackle or someone like Alabama guard Chance Warmack. We might need to rethink that.

That's the direction things go in the two new mocks from CBS Sports, from Rob Rang and Dane Brugler. Rang gave the Rams Warmack. Here's his take:

Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama: Just a few years ago using a top-20 pick on an interior lineman might have seemed silly. The need to protect the quarterback, however, has changed everything and few understand that better than St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher. Warmack is viewed by some talent evaluators as the safest prospect in the 2013 draft.

Here's Brugler's pick:

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: The Rams still have hopes that Sam Bradford will get back on track, but the front office will need to add blockers in order to protect the former No. 1 overall pick. Johnson is a former QB, TE and DE who is still growing at the offensive tackle position, but he showcased top-20 ability in Mobile.

A Boomer Sooner for Sam. Appropriate, no? We have a pretty sizable contingent of Oklahoma readers here, so I'll be interested to hear your take on Johnson.

The second pick in each of those mock drafts is a safety. Brugler goes with Kenny Vaccaro, and Rang goes with Matt Elam. I'm not starting to wonder if safety shouldn't be the first pick the Rams make in the first round of the draft this year.

We'll see how things change, but the impact of rookie safeties like Mark Barron and Harrison Smith, could add value to the position, one that's usually undervalued. More and more analysts are thinking that Vaccaro is a top-20 pick, and the consensus is that he's the best safety on the board.

Here's Chris Burke from SI.com on Vaccaro:

I have every expectation that Vaccaro will come off the board in the top 20, because he is a counter to the NFL's ongoing offensive revolution. He can tackle, defend the pass, drop down on tight ends and help with running QBs.

I've said before that defending young QBs like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick is going to be a big part of the Rams strategy from here on out. They need a safety, and they shouldn't skimp on the position.

The Rams defense is really close to being something special. The front line and the corners are already very good units, and the linebackers are ready to take a jump forward in 2013. Beef up the safety position, and this group could be on the verge of dominance.

But, but, but ... yes, the Rams need offensive linemen, the best they can get, but this draft class is deep with offensive linemen. Blue chip safety prospects are harder to find that capable offensive linemen, and finding a safety most likely to contribute from day one will be essential for the Rams to keep the defense chugging along.

Look no further than the two teams in the Super Bowl; both have elite safeties in the secondary. That's not a coincidence. With free agent dollars limited for the Rams this year, drafting a safety seems like the best route to upgrading the position. Let's not forget Fisher's decided preference for selecting defensive backs in the first round either.

The Combine isn't too far away, and individual player workouts will follow that. Keep an eye on the buzz around Vaccaro and the other safety prospects. By the time April rolls around, conventional wisdom could get flipped on its head, as it usually does.


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