Well, without the playoffs, we're into draft season.
You should be used to it at this point.
Yesterday, we got top tier mocks from SB Nation's Dan Kadar over at Mocking the Draft as well as a first effort from Josh Norris at Rotoworld. And if nothing else, we're seeing the conventional wisdom firm up like cement.
Both mocks had the Rams taking Jake Matthews at #2, though we saw the early mention of a possible trade from Norris. First though, here's Kadar's reasoning on the Rams calling on the Texas A&M offensive tackle:
Starting left tackle Jake Long, whom the Rams just signed before the season, tore his ACL and MCL in the team's second-to-last game of the season. It's possible Long will be healthy by the start of next regular season. But how effective will he be upon his return? If nothing else, Matthews is a good, safe pick. Matthews is capable of playing at a high level on either the left or right side. With Rodger Saffold approaching free agency after this season, Matthews would be an upgrade to the line.
We're going to see many permutations of this reasoning in the weeks ahead. Nothing to quibble with here though. On to Norris' Matthews blurb:
This is a tough one, and I half expect the Rams to trade this pick. Jadeveon Clowney should be the first non-QB off the board, but I don’t see Chris Long shifting inside often enough for the three man rotation to be practical. Yes, The Rams signed Jake Long last summer. A late season injury along with Joseph Barksdale in a contract year, plus the assumption that Rodger Saffold is not resigned, makes Matthews the logical pick. He is a technician with a powerful punch and experience at both sides of the line.
So be it. We've got a narrative built. Get comfy.
As for the Rams' second 1st round pick, we're seeing different options. A popular one comes from Norris in Alabama safety Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix:
There is a chance Clinton-Dix goes earlier than this, but the Rams would be a great landing spot. Cortland Finnegan will be out, so Rodney McLeod could be pushed to slot duties. Clinton-Dix is a rangy player with the versatility to play near the line of scrimmage or in the deeper portions of the field.
I'm incredibly uncomfortable with McLeod in the slot, but that can be addressed elsewhere in the draft or through FA. That being said, I like the idea of Clinton-Dix and T.J. McDonald forming a young duo the Rams can help tutor and rely upon to allow the corners to press a bit more than we've seen in the last two seasons.
As for Kadar, he hit a personal favorite with this one:
There has been some back and forth about whether or not Ekpre-Olomu will enter the draft. Since a mock is a hypothetical, let's say he goes pro. If he does, he's a better choice for St. Louis than safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama. Clinton-Dix isn't quite the coverage safety the Rams need, and there isn't one worth a first-round pick. Ekpre-Olomu is a physical cornerback who can play the run. A wide receiver makes sense here as well, but Ekpre-Olomu might have a bigger impact.
I'm a IEO fan. I name dropped him in my last mock recap, so it's shouldn't be a surprise I'm on board here. If you caught the Ducks last night in their defensive handling of Texas in the Alamo Bowl, you saw why (Texas QBs were a combined 9 of 23 for 56 yards and two interceptions...yowza).
In any case, there's plenty of discussion to come in the months ahead. Nothing is for certain. Nothing is forever. So until they close the curtain? Yall know. It's you and I.