As the 2013 NFL regular season concludes, the order of the 2014 NFL draft is beginning to take shape. If the draft were to occur today the Rams would have a top three pick, which allows for a lot of possibilities. My immediate thought was to trade the pick and accumulate picks similar to those just collected in the famed "RG3 trade". While I was thrilled with the idea of several more years with numerous first round picks, I was captivated by another intriguing thought.
I now have reached the conclusion that we must draft Clowney if he is available. Jadaveon Clowney is the most heralded non-qb college prospect in a very long time. Many have made hyperbolic claims in reference to Clowney, and while he may have had a disappointing junior year, he is undoubtably the most talented DE prospect in recent memory. Drafting Clowney would, however, leave us with an excess at DE. This predicament poses this question: would the Rams be better of with Long at DE and the plethora of picks acquired from a Clowney deal, or would they be better off with Clowney at DE and whatever the could acquire for Long?
The answer to this question largely hinges on the perceived value of Chris Long in my eyes, which is why I wrote this article. A trade that I looked back on in comparison was the Jared Allen trade from the Chiefs to the Vikings. In this trade, Allen was younger than Long and had become a pro bowl caliber player. I am not convinced that Long could bring back the same return as Allen (a first and two thirds), but could ideally return a mid first round pick. This may be more than many of you see as a possibility, or possibly less, but I would be very open to suggestions or thoughts. In my dream world, we could return the Bears first round pick for Chris Long, uniting him with his brother and providing them with much needed help at defensive end. With the Bears first round pick I envision the Rams selecting Rashede Hageman.
This trade would essentially put a cap on our young talent on the 2014 draft, allowing this large and super-talented group to mature together. Our starting defensive line for the next 5 years at least would consist of Quinn, Brockers, Hageman, and Clowney. If all of these players were to come close the reaching their potential, our defensive line would approach legendary status. In addition to that, we would still have anther 2014 first rounder (our pick) with which we could select another elite level player (Sammy Watkins, CJ Mosley).
In conclusion, the opportunity to add a once in a generation type player doesn't present itself often, and it should not be disregarded simply because the spot is occupied by a solid player. I do like Chris Long and he has grown on me every year due to his effort and passion, but he is not near the level of athlete that Clowney is. Long is highly valued by many NFL minds and I do not believe it is too much to think that he could return first round value. Finally, building a group of players with elite ability throughout the roster (especially on the defensive line) that reaches maturity together could create something incredibly special.
Also sorry for the rambled, somewhat disjointed format of this fanpost. Time for a poll!