2014 NFL mock draft: Turning two picks into gold

USA TODAY Sports

With two picks in the draft, the Rams have another shot at bringing in some cornerstone players.

The money runs out in 2014. Not real money, just the bounty of dealing away the second pick in the 2012 to Washington. And thanks to Washington's terrible coaching and wafer-thin roster, the St. Louis Rams could be looking at a top-five pick in the next draft.

As it stands now, the draft order has the Rams at No. 5 (Washington's pick) and No. 16. Obviously, that's subject to change.

So which players might be available to them at those spots, assuming the old horse trader Les Snead doesn't get the itch?

Let's take a look at what CBS Sports says in their latest mock drafts, from Rob Rang and Dane Brugler (they have the Rams picking 17th ... it's November, so we're not going to stress it).

With pick No. 5 ...

Rang: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State

To compete in arguably the most physical division in the NFL, the Rams must upgrade along the offensive line yet again. With former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long looking like his best days might have been played in Miami, the Rams might need a replacement for at left tackle sooner rather than later. Erving, a hyper-athletic former defensive tackle doesn't get the hype of others at his position -- yet.

Brugler: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

St. Louis added Jake Long in free agency last offseason, but the other tackle spot has been an issue, whether Rodger Saffold is on the field or not playing due to injuries. Matthews is not overly flashy, but he is a model of consistency with elite football character.

A couple months ago, nobody would have argued about the need for drafting an offensive tackle. The emergence of Joe Barksdale has changed the conversation. At some point, the Rams do need to identify a long-term replacement for Jake Long, whose injury issues could still resurface. Rang's wrong about how Long's played; he's turned out to be close to his former Pro Bowl status.

With so many quarterbacks in this draft, potentially, the Rams could very well have the chance to grab one of the top offensive tackles in the draft, a real steal.

At this point, guard is arguable a bigger need for the Rams than tackle.

With pick No. 16 ...

Rang: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

Sam Bradford has shown flashes but the oft-injured former No. 1 overall pick has yet to establish himself as a true franchise quarterback. With an extra first round pick due to Washington's trade for Robert Griffin III, the Rams could be in the unique position to add a talented quarterback capable of really pushing Bradford for the starting role. Mettenberger's size, arm and experience in a pro-style offense would seem a logical fit for Jeff Fisher.

Brugler: Louis Nix III, DT, LSU

Coach Jeff Fisher loves defensive linemen. The Rams could use depth on the interior behind Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford to improve their shoddy run defense.

Oh boy, I don't have the energy to weigh in on the quarterback debate today, and maybe not for awhile. Drafting a QB in the first round means he's THE GUY. Anything anyone says about competition is just lip service. Sam Bradford's under contract through 2015. There was some talk about a contract extension before he went down with a torn ACL. That could change now. The Rams may be hesitant to rush into a long-term deal, and Bradford's side may want to wait in the hopes he drive up his price next season.

Drafting a defensive tackle in the first round, two years after taking Michael Brockers, seems like a stretch. However, Kendall Langford has two more years on his contract, and he's been mostly average. He's not generating much push in the middle, but his run defense has improved. Think about a defensive line with four first-round picks starting.

The other needs are obvious, and there are more needs than you might imagine. Remember, the Rams are now getting to the point where they can use top draft picks to replace average players in their lineup.

The secondary needs help at safety and corner, especially with Cortland Finnegan's career in doubt and in decline. I mentioned the need at guard above, and that's got to be a consideration in the first-round too.

What direction would you go?

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