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2013 St. Louis Rams Mock Draft: Version 2.0........Post-Senior Bowl......Post-AFC Conference Championship Game.......Playmakers To The Front Of The Line!!!

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The NFL conference championships and the Senior Bowl both occurred over the last week or so. Both events have had a dramatic impact on my thinking regarding Version 1.0 of my 2013 St. Louis Rams Mock Draft. OT Eric Fisher, TE Ryan Otten and DT Brandon Williams all played in the Senior Bowl and I had all three of them mocked to the Rams in Version 1.0. (in round 1, round 4 and round 5 respectively). In addition, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl. When watching that game I couldn't help but think of three players the Ravens likely won't have back next year: WR Anquan Boldin, S Ed Reed and LB Ray Lewis. I also thought of the bold move the Patriots made in moving up from 27 to 21 in last years draft (giving up a third round pick in addition to their own first) to draft Chandler Jones.

The results from Senior Bowl week had the following effect on my mock draft: Eric Fisher's stock went up during the week, enough so that I no longer think we have a chance to draft him at 16. Ryan Otten did not have a good week. His stock has dropped and I am no longer considering him for the fourth round as a pass catching tight end. Brandon Williams played well and showed he could stand up against FBS competition. His stock has gone up and he is now a likely second day pick. With Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan going back to school and the likelihood that Fisher and Luke Joeckel are gone by our 16 pick, I have given up all reasonable hope of getting a sure-fire first round talent OT. Further, I can't see Fisher drafting a guard in the first round. It is easier to find Pro Bowl type guards in the later rounds than it is to find Pro Bowl receivers in later rounds. I do agree, however, that it would very tempting to pick him at 16, irrespective of positional value.

While watching the Ravens-Patriots game I thought of the upcoming draft. It made me think of a possible first round pick trade scenario. For weeks I have been convinced that the Rams will trade down one of their first round picks. I have seen many mock drafts where a trade down has been proposed, from a trade down of a few spots with one first round pick to trading down both first round picks right out of the first round. The trade down that I propose involves the Baltimore Ravens and is quite similar in nature to the trade up New England completed in last years draft. The Ravens will be drafting at 31/32 in the first round. They will likely be looking to replace the three players mentioned earlier. It is possible that the likes of Alec Ogletree, Manti Te'o, Kevin Minter, Terrance Williams, DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Reid and Matt Elam will be available when we pick at 22. It is a good spot for the Ravens to trade up to. The trade? The Rams trade the 22 pick to the Ravens in exchange for the 31/32 pick in the first round plus the Ravens third and fifth round picks. The trade is a logical one for the Ravens and allows the Rams to accumulate more picks in this draft. More picks across the draft, especially in the hands of Fisher and Snead, means more chances to find successful players at good value. Logical and sensible for both teams and not a terribly outrageous scenario. Although I won't go into detail, I believe the same scenario might also work with the Denver Broncos or the Atlanta Falcons, both of whom pick in the latter part of the first round.

2013 St. Louis Rams Mock Draft: Version 2.0

Round 1.16 - Cordarrelle Patterson - WR - Tennessee

Round 1.31 - Matt Elam - SS - Florida

Round 2.46 - D.J. Fluker - RT - Alabama

Round 3.78 - D.J. Swearinger - FS - South Carolina

Round 3.93 - Brandon Williams - DT - Missouri Southern State

Round 4.110 - Gavin Escobar - TE - San Diego State

Round 5.142 - Zavier Gooden - OLB - Missouri

Round 5.157 - Blaize Foltz - G - TCU

Round 6.174 - Cameron Lawrence - OLB - Mississippi State

Round 7.206 - Knile Davis - RB - Arkansas

Draft Notes

Patterson - An explosive, electrifying player who can rush, receive and kick return with skill. Prototypical size with the highest ceiling of any wide receiver in this draft. A little raw (one year in FBS) but ahead of Brian Quick in development at this time last year. A bigger and taller version of Tavon Austin, an extremely versatile playmaker.

Elam - Does not have ideal size but is a violent tackler who is solid against the run and good in coverage. Had the best year of any safety in the country. A better prospect than Vaccaro. Knows how to play the position very well, as opposed to relying more on athleticism. The first piece of the puzzle in upgrading our weakest unit on defense.

Fluker - Many think he won't fall this far. I think he will. Much the same was said of Martin and Glenn last year and both fell into the second round. Would he even be considered for the first round if Matthews and Lewan had come out? An absolute road grader who needs to be coached by Boudreau in pass pro. Has the tools and quickness to be a good pass blocker but needs to work on footwork and technique. Plays with a mean streak. At worst, can be moved inside to guard, where he would be a powerful force.

Swearinger - Fisher doubled down at CB, RB and WR in last years draft and could do so again in this years draft. Swearinger is the other piece of the puzzle in upgrading the safety position. A tough, physical defender who is good in coverage. An underrated prospect in a class that is deep at the safety position.

Williams - A gigantic defensive lineman who boosted his stock during Senior Bowl week. Proved that he could play at an FBS level. Played for a Division 2 school throughout his career. Recently named conference defensive player of the year. Adept at both pass rushing and stopping the run, he is versatile and can play many positions across the line. Suited for nose tackle and 3 tech. He dominated at his level but did not play against elite competition until the Senior Bowl.

Escobar - Seam stretching, physical target and red zone threat. Big and athletic (6'6",255). Nice pass catcher with good hands and a more than adequate blocker. High upside. Will add another dimension to the Rams passing attack.

Gooden - 4.49 speed. Excellent athletic traits that need to be coached into being a more consistent football player. A physical and feisty player, he has good upside and experience at the safety position as well. Upgrades the linebacker depth and could be Dunbar's replacement if he is not re-signed after the coming season.

Foltz - Had a nagging ankle injury for most of his senior season but played better later in the year. A big, strong player (6'4', 329)(I think the strongest guard in the draft), who has bench pressed 580 pounds and squatted 800 pounds. A good drive blocker who needs to be coached up in pass protection and in blocking technique. Could surprise at the next level and start in his first season.

Lawrence - A tackling machine who is still learning the finer points of the position. 111 tackles, 10 TFL, and four sacks in 2012. A good player and a sleeper prospect who can also excel on special teams. Has upside and is another player who could surprise at the next level. The second piece in making the Rams linebacker's younger and more athletic.

Davis - Ankle injuries have derailed a once-promising career. Two years ago he tore through the SEC for 1300 plus yards and 14 touchdowns. He missed the 2011 season due to injury and struggled to return to form last season, partly because of the Bobby Petrino mess at Arkansas. Very talented and could become a feature back, although durability issues are a major concern. Worth taking a chance on this late in the draft.

Summary

This mock draft incorporates some of the strategies/tendencies used by Fisher and Snead in last years draft: trading down, picking players from small schools, picking players with high upsides/ceilings, doubling down and drafting to upgrade particular units. The focus of my mock was in drafting playmakers, balancing the needs of both offense and defense and picking players who are big hitters. It is also no coincidence that 7 of the players in my mock were with teams in the SEC. The final consideration was spending early picks to revamp the safety position. With Quintin Mikell turning 33 and having a 9 million dollar cap hit and Craig Dahl's mediocre play I felt it was necessary to strongly address the position in depth. Especially given the presence of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick in our division.

As a footnote, for those that will insist that D.J. Fluker will not fall to us in the second round, I have an alternate plan. I would not draft Fluker or Brandon Williams and instead draft DT Sylvester Williams in the second round and one of RT's Menelik Watson, Brennan Williams or Chris Faulk in the third round. Although I still secretly wish that Eric Fisher would fall to us in the first round.

There will likely be comments as to why I am not considering drafting an OL in the first round anymore. I will give you the quick version: Matthews and Lewan aren't there, Joeckel and Fisher won't fall to us, I don't see Fluker as a sure-fire first round prospect, Cooper is better suited to a zone blocking scheme (perhaps even center), I am not convinced that Johnson is a legitimate top 20 pick and, while Warmack is a great prospect, he does not play in a position that is game-changing. Great guards can be found in rounds 2-5 (Larry Warford is a good example). Let's not forget that Fisher has stated that getting playmakers and game-changers was of prime importance this year.

Please vote in the poll. Your comments and opinions are always appreciated!! Would love to hear what you would do differently.

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