After hoping until week 12 for the Rams reaching the play-offs reality stroke back and makes me concentrate my thoughts on the 2014 off-season and draft.
My upcoming thoughts are purely based on business thinking rather than emotional ones, because the last ones threaten the projects in my job more than functional, technical or any other circumstances.
The mentioned "draft need" ranks from A (highest need) to F (no need).
Before starting with a look at "our" Rams' team parts first I give one hint of my thoughts concerning the 2014 draft:
If Teddy Bridgewater is available/reachable, got get him. To silence discussion I like Sam Bradford (but that is emotional).
Checking the current Rams roster
Kellen Clemens is a backup but not more. I wouldn't bet on him leading a trailing team to victory in the last quarter.
Austin Davis didn't get a chance so far to display his capabilities ("play him now").
Brad Samford had a nice season start but went down with an injury again - and he is counting a lot against the cap. And his movement inside and outside the pocket is the worst of all three in my opinion.
So I am not very happy with the current situation and want the Rams at least being prepared for the era after Bradford.
Draft need: B/C (C for addressing the contract and cap situation of Bradford more)
So far this unit played better than anyone expected.
If Tim Barnes is able to keep the center job will be one of the interesting parts of the remaining games.
Roger Saffold played amazingly good at guard, but if he will suit up as a Ram in the next season is questionable.
Harvey Dahl and Scott Wells are old and injury-prone so I expect them to split ties with the Rams (would help with the salary cap).
Joe Barksdale and Jake Long played solid but the latter cannot be counted on for too many years injury-wise.
Despite my first statement for this group the Rams should become a real strength here. Any offensive success starts with this line and even late round running backs can flourish behind one - look at Denver and their 7th round picks.
Draft need: A
After Steve Jackson departing everyone was talking about dark ages to come at this position for the Rams.
But for me Stacy and Cunningham did a good job if I take the Seahawks game out of the equation.
Pead is a no-show for me and should be released after becoming a RFA. I do not expect anyone being interested in trading for him.
Darryl Richardson is the last to talk about. After a promising rookie campaign he declined in 2013 and due to injury his future is in jeopardy.I know there is a lot of talk (outside Rams fans) about drafting a RB but I give them a chance next year.
Draft need: D
Tavon Austin was promising the last games and I want to see Stedman Bailey on the field because I think, he can do a lot out there.
On the other hand Chris Givens needs some glue on his hands to avoid drops, Brian Quick is developing too slow and Austin Pettis did not make much out of his given chances (and cannot block).
But with the situation at Quarterback it is hard to evaluate this group.
If there are any thoughts to strengthen this group the Rams will have to use a first rounder on Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans.
Any other pick makes no sense to me.
Draft need: C
Satisfied with the play of Jared Cook? Not me, maybe he is underutilized but I do not think so.
Lance Kendricks wasn't a rock too and seems to have blocking issues.
That would make everyone thinking of a high need, wouldn't it? But I stay with these two at the moment expecting them to play better next year.
Draft need: C
I like the front four although there could be an upgrade over Kendell Langford.
Gerald Hayes and the other backups are (more than) nice complements and despite a new DT I wouldn't change that group.
Draft need: D
James Laurinaitis played nice so far, Jo-Lon Dunbar's return was vital for defending the run and Alex Ogletree may be the leadin tackler after the season. But the latter showed some easy errors and has to improve pass coverage.
And after these three there isn't much for me.
For the rest of the season Ray-Ray Armstrong should play some regular downs to show what he is able to do.
But nevertheless the Rams could use an OLB capable of covering TEs/RBs swarming out for a catch and taking some pressure of the secondary.
Draft need: B-
It's aching seeing a promising secondary in 2012 declining that much.
Maybe Cortland Finnegan was a heck of a player - but no longer. I think his bad play made a lot of fans crazy.
Janoris Jenkins uses too much soft coverage and especially on 3rd down and 7 lining up 12 yards is a no-go.
Trumaine Johnson played not bad and I have hopes he is able to develop at least as a pretty solid 3rd corner.
So for me I want a real shutdown corner as we had about 14 years ago.
Draft need: B
T.J. McDonald will become a good safety - bet on this ;-).
But the rest did not look like starters so the Rams barely need one who can defend from sideline to sideline.
Draft need: A
You're still here? Thank you for reading.
The future of the Rams roster
If I could pick anything I want next year it would be:
- a pretty good referee and
- tons of pills to avoid penalties.
But let's get back to reality now.
First I would part way with the following players due to bad play, age and/or cap reasons (that's the business part I like that much):
Cortland Finnegan, Harvey Dahl, Scott Wells (if Tim Barnes pans out).
Jared Cook would not make much sense (look this pretty nice article from Ramnfan1313: salary cap)
For the draft i would like the following strategy:
#1: Go for Teddy Bridgewater if available AND trade Sam Bradford away
#2: If not #1 go for OT Jake Matthews - trading back is risky but a few spots maybe possible (that's the Washington pick from the RGIII trade, thank you)
#3: Take the best safety (Ha#Sean Clinton-Dix), if not available the best shutdown cornerback with the own 1st round pick
#4: Take a Guard
#5: Take a QB (if not #1)
#6: Take an OLB
#7: Take no other late round WR because I am getting sick from that "hope move"
Number #4 to #6 do not have fixed ranks and depend on available players and offseason movements.
Being at the end of my point of view I am looking forward to your opinions.