Since the mock draft season has once again come early to us Ram fans, I feel like something needs to be addressed.
We're the youngest team in football... We also, believe it or not, have quite a bit of talent on this roster. Some of it hasn't, and may not ever, come to fruition. But it's definitely there.
That's what this post is about: Evaluating the roster, finding the areas that lack talent, and finding the talent that has lacked development. I'll follow up with a mock-draft based on these things.
Sam Bradford is a competent NFL starter. That's a compliment, seeing as there aren't 32 of those in the NFL; but also an open statement, because we really haven't seen enough to say that he's great or that he's just average.
Kellen Clemens is a reliable veteran, who knows the system, and can likely teach it to other QBs. He doesn't have much talent, but is a guy that you keep on the roster when you have a young QB who is still trying to master the system.
The fact of the matter is, we don't have 2 quarterbacks that we could trust to lead us to victory on a consistent basis... And with Bradford's ACL injury, along with previous injuries, we could potentially not have 1 if he goes down. We definitely need an influx of talent here.
Zac Stacy has emerged to be potentially one of the premier backs in this league.
Benny Cunningham has shown that he has NFL talent.
Daryl Richardson has shown that he can be a very good complimentary back.
Isaiah Pead has a ton of talent, but hasn't been able to put anything together on the field.
This is definitely an area that we don't need to target in the draft. We're set here for at least a few years.
Jared Cook is one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL. However, he also appears to be one of the worst blocking TEs in the NFL. He's also been anything but consistent in his first year here. But no one would say that he's short on talent.
Lance Kendricks is a staple of this offense. That's weird to say, but he's a complete TE... He's a guy who will likely go unnoticed by the casual fan, but is very vital in that he's both an effective blocker and receiver.
Cory Harkey has shown that he can be a role player in this offense, too. He's done a good job as a FB/TE hybrid.
While I don't have the confidence about this unit that I do about our halfback unit, I still don't think that this is an area where talent needs to be added. Maybe in two years, depending on how Cook plays.
Austin Pettis is the most tenured member of the Rams receiving corps... And he's only in his third year. He's obviously not a game-breaker, but he's a guy that you want to keep on your team. Whether as your 3rd, 4th, or 5th WR, he deserves a roster spot... Great hands, reliable in the clutch, and reliable in the red zone.
Brian Quick is a talented wide receiver... Yeah, I said it. He's big, fast, and strong. He high points the ball well. However, he's very far from reliable at this point. But are we really going to give up on a guy in two years? He hasn't been that bad, he just hasn't been that good.
Chris Givens was a stud as a rookie. He hasn't been utilized nearly as well in year 2, mostly due to the introduction of Tavon Austin into our offense. Givens has shown that he belongs in this league, and that he belongs on the field.
Tavon Austin is one of the best athletes I've ever seen... His footwork is so clean, that it makes watching tape of other speedy receivers look sloppy. It was silly for people to think that Austin was going to fill the Danny Amendola role... That's not who Austin is. Austin is a DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin type player... Not a Wes Welker, Danny Amendola type.
Stedman Bailey is gaining a lot of fans. He plays hard both on offense and on special teams. He's shown that he was a steal to grab in the third round. He looks as though he could be a WR2 or WR3, and hopefully will stay with this organization for quite some time.
Drafting another WR just seems silly to me... Do we have a "true WR1" on our roster? Maybe, maybe not... But there isn't a guy in our corps that needs replaced. We have the perfect combination of skill sets in our corps, and they just need a year or two more to develop and be given a chance.
Jake Long is the most talented left tackle that our franchise has had since Orlando Pace. If he can stay healthy, we have no reason to replace him for the next 5+ years.
Rodger Saffold has played well when healthy at both RT and RG. However, there's a good chance that we won't be able to retain him.
Harvey Dahl has given us a few good years. However, he's expensive and doesn't really play up to his pay at this point in his career.
Scott Wells is one of the better pass blocking centers in the game when healthy. However, he hasn't stayed healthy. He also costs a lot of money.
Chris Williams and Shelley Smith could both be decent backup LGs... Can't really give them much higher compliments than that.
Joe Barksdale has played well this year. In fact, Bourdreau has done a great job not just with the OL in general, but with the RT position... That position has consistently outperformed its talent level for the past two years.
Barrett Jones is the biggest unknown in the group. He was an all-world college player, and definitely has the football IQ to make it in this league.
This area is where we need the biggest influx of talent. Would anyone really be that upset if we used ALL of our draft picks on offensive linemen? (hyperbole... but seriously) This offense's greatest weak link is the offensive line... Hands down.
This is probably our strongest unit.
Robert Quinn is playing like people expect Jadeveon Clowney to play. He's been an absolute monster at RE.
Chris Long hasn't had his best statistical year, but consistently gets the job done and leads this unit.
Michael Brockers has shown why he was a first round pick.
Kendall Langford? Meh... Not great, not terrible.
And William Hayes would win the "6th man of the year" award if this were a basketball team. He's a defensive weapon.
Another DT could definitely be added... Maybe a talented but raw mid-rounder that could take 1-2 years to develop.
James Laurinaitis is the leader of this defense. He's extremely intelligent, and has played very well this year.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar does what he does very well. He plays with intensity and covers a lot of ground on the field.
Ray Ray Armstrong could turn out to be the most talented member of the group. However, he's obviously still very underdeveloped.
We could certainly use some depth here, but our top-end talent is set for the foreseeable future.
We're one year removed from viewing our CBs as a top-5 unit in the NFL... They all seem to have underperformed this year.
Janoris Jenkins has elite talent... However, he obviously hasn't put it all together yet mentally.
Trumaine Johnson has shown that he belongs in this league. It's no wonder that the Rams drafted him.
Cortland Finnegan had a horrible year. But as of right now, it's just one horrible year. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater... He's still a feisty leader on this defense.
Brandon McGee hasn't had much of an opportunity to play, but he definitely has a lot of athletic talent.
We could probably use a bit more depth, but do you really think that an early round CB would help this unit? To me, the problem has been all coaching. This unit performed much better last year, and people don't just all of a sudden become untalented.
Jeff Fisher must not value safeties all that highly, because we've had an opportunity to grab some good ones and have let them pass by.
T.J. McDonald has a lot of talent, but has definitely played like a rookie.
Rodney McCleod has played valiantly, but doesn't appear to be a long-term starter on this team. Could make a GREAT backup, though.
The rest of this unit is, in large part, underwhelming. Next to the Offensive Line, this appears to be the area in largest need of an influx of talent
Now for the Mock Draft
This really seems to be the year to cash in the chips in the draft. This class looks like it will have more talent than many in recent memory. So while swinging another RG3-style deal looks appetizing, I'd rather us trade around to grab more picks in this year's draft. Seeing as those are difficult to predict, I'll just stick with the picks we already have.
Round 1a) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
And now that I've lost most of my readers, let me explain. Bridgewater has a tailor-made skill set for our offense. He has run a pro-style system at Louisville, and thrives off of play action. Play action is something that Sam Bradford has struggled with, but something that should be a huge part of our offense. He's going to be a star in this league, and I hope it's for us.
Round 1b) - HaHa Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabam
Hopefully Snisher finally decides to do something about our dismal safeties. Clinton-Dix is the premier safety in this class, and would make a great fit for our defense in which the safeties are asked to be interchangable.
Round 2) - Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi St.
Gabe Jackson (unless I'm mistaken) hasn't been charged with allowing a single sack in his entire collegiate career. He's a bit slower than most teams want their LG to be, but could be a staple on this line for years to come.
Round 3) - David Yankey, G, Stanford
I really hope that we double-dip in the guard department. I'm sick of watching interior D-Linemen collapse the pocket and murder our QB.
Round 4) - Derrick Hopkins, DT, VIrginia Tech
There's that mid round DT I was mentioning. Let him develop without the pressure to start right away, and he could be a good piece of this defense.
Round 5) - Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
This guy has been a mixed bag at Miami... Flashes of brilliance, flashes of not-so-brilliance. His draft-stock may be higher than this, but he fits the bill for what we'd look for in a developmental tackle prospect while we see if the Joe Barksdale experiment works out.
Round 6) - A.J. Tarpley, ILB, Stanford
Sure, James Laurinaitis is locked in as our starter, but what do we really have behind him at MLB? Tarpley has some upside, and would be a great value here in round 6.
Round 7) - Devin Drane, CB, Cincinnati
We could definitely use a competent CB5 in case of injuries which so often plague our team. Drane would be a great pickup in rd 7.
Thanks for reading (assuming you got through it all). As always, comments/criticisms are appreciated.