Disclaimer: At this point my mock is a complete shot in the dark. So many things can happen(injuries, free agency, combine results, off field issues)that the draft will most likely not go the way i expect. So if you are unhappy with the results that i expect you are free to voice your opinion below.
Picks: As you all know we have the good grace to have 2 picks in this years draft. Whats better is the Redskins are terrible and that will net us a lot more then you think. Ill start off with our own. Ive gone through and projected that we finish 6-10 this year. That means we go 1-3 over the next 4 games our only win coming against Tampa Bay. This lands us at the #10 spot. And for the other 1st rounder i have the Redskins finishing 3-13, not winning another game. Only games they have a good shot in are at Atlanta and at New York. I would not be surprised if Washington wins these games, these are just merely my attempt to predict the last four games of the season. This lands us the #2 pick.
Draft Day: I dont believe our team is a Super Bowl contender yet and still has plenty of holes to fill which is why our regime has been so eager to trade down and stockpile picks. Now over the course of the time before the draft they could fall in love with a prospect and sit at #2 and take him or trade down only one or two spots to secure that player, my draft is going off the assumption that this is not the case. So with that being said i do believe we trade down with Tampa Bay from the #2 spot down to the #5 spot. Tampa Bays ownership in recent years has spent quite a bit on high value free agents. This signals they believe their team is good enough to make a run sometime in the near future. To help this process speed up they will need a player who can make a instant impact and a devastating one at that. This is why they waste no time in trading up with us to grab DE Javedeon Clowney.. Now the Atlanta Falcons could very well try and move up as well because they to have an ownership who thinks they are a super bowl caliber team and just need a player or two to become dominant. Atlanta not only has good connections with St.Louis (Sneads connection to Atlanta, the trade to get Alec Ogletree). But they also have a history of making splash trades to get the players they want (Julio Jones, Desmond Trufant). But i have the Falcons finishing at 5-11 netting them the #9 draft slot. I dont believe Snead/Fisher will want to trade down that far which is why they accept the deal with Tampa.
With the #10 spot i believe we trade down yet again and haul in even more picks. There is no one in the 8-12 range that fits a need of ours and the need for more depth is more apparent now then it has been all season. Again we trade with a team that has a regime that believes their team has what it takes to make a super bowl run but needs that special player to put them over the top. Two teams in the middle of the second round seem like they could jump on this opportunity those being Green Bay and the New York Giants. In this situation i have New York pulling the trigger and jumping up to grab a OT (Lewan, Kouandjio) giving us the 14th pick.
Our Haul: In the trade with Bucs we in return get the #5 pick this year, 2015 1st, 2014 2nd, 2015 3rd. In the trade with the Giants we get #14 pick this year, 2014 2nd, 2015 2nd, 2015 3rd. So for those keeping count in 2015 that gives us two 1st round, two 2nd round and two 3rd round picks. For this year we get two 1st rounders and two 2nd rounders.(For the sake of this article being so long i will add in the 2nd round players from these trades in future update)
Selections: Finally its May 8th, after reading and hearing every day since the Super Bowl about the draft, it is finally upon us and after all the trades and agonizingly slow previous picks, you hear "With the 5th pick in the 2014 NFL draft the St. Louis Rams select....."
#5 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Now i know for some of you its hard to cope with the idea of taking two Wide Receivers both in the top 8 i back to back drafts but there are a few reasons i believe this will be the pick. First and foremost Wide Receiver is still a glaring need for us. Yes Tavon Austin was a top 10 pick but he dosent have all the qualitys to carry this Rams Receiving Corps. He needs some help and no one on our current roster has been able to step up and rise to the occasion. I still believe our Wide Receivers are some of the Weakest in the NFL. Over time sure they could develop and prove me wrong but im going to lean towards that not happening. At this point in the draft Watkins is close to being the best player on the board if not the best. So he fits both Need/BPA draft strategies. If you take a look at Jeff Fishers 18 year draft history he has never taken a OT/OG/C in the first round. He has only ever picked a Tackle in the 2nd round once and the 3rd round twice. And he has never taken a Guard or Center anywhere before the 4th round. This to me is an obvious indicator that he believes offensive lineman can be drafted late and contribute well. As far as Wide Receivers go Fisher has drafted three in the first round (Austin, Britt and Dyson) and also Quick who was borderline 1st round. So to me it appears he does not have a problem drafting Receivers early. On Offense you can argue that Receiver is the only realistic need that Fisher would be willing to spend a 1st round draft pick on. Bradford is and will remain our Quarterback, Stacy and Cunningham have the Running Back position locked down, we just signed Cook to a massive deal and O-Line isn't in the cards with Fisher. This leaves Wide Receiver as the one position on offense we in my opinion will spend a high draft pick on, and what do you know there is a explosive play making Receiver slotted to go right around pick #5. Now on Defense there are a couple of positions we could address with this pick. The consensus favorite right now is Outside Linebacker. With players like Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack(they are projected 3-4 OLB's but i think either of them could play as a 4-3 OLB) and even CJ Mosley i can understand why an OLB makes sense to many people. The problem i see with that is our defense plays a lot of Nickel based defense. As of now our Nickel Linebackers are Laurinaitis and Ogletree. If we were to take a OLB that would solidify our front seven in a base 4-3 defense and make it scary good. But i cant honestly see Fisher having a player as talented as Ogletree is in coverage or a player as highly paid(Laurinaitis is good in coverage as well)as Laurinaitis sitting on the bench in favor of a rookie OLB. Not only that im sure that if you draft someone as high as #5 you dont want them on the sideline as often as a OLB in our Nickel heavy defense would be. No Safety or Defensive Tackle is really worth taking here leaving me with the choice of Sammy Watkins.
#14 Ifo Ekpre Olomu, CB, Oregon
This pick could really go one of two ways both of which would be for the secondary. Our secondary this year has been a big letdown. Jenkins has struggled a bit this year (though i do think this is a sophomore slump and not a permanent thing) Johnson has been solid and contributed well and that leads us of course to Cortland Finnegan. Before he was put on the IR Finnegan struggled heavily this year. Then of course the fractured orbital bone does not bode well. Don't forget we gave him a large contract and he is eating up a lot of cap space. The Rams owe him a roster bonus of 3 Million 5 days after the super bowl. There are a couple ways the Rams could play this but they will most certainly try and restructure his deal if not cut him. One interesting theory is the Rams will move him to Free Safety. Finnegan to me has good ball skills could play centerfield and is aggresive enough against the run(he has routinely had 70+ tackle seasons playing CB) that he could make a decent Free Safety. Some will argue that he is too small to play Safety and that the transition will be to hard for him. Well id like to point to Arizona Cardinal Free Safety Tyrann Mathieu. Out of college he was listed and even drafted as a Corner. Weighing in at 5'9 186lbs his size is nearly identical to Finnegans at 5'10 188lbs. If you havent heard he is doing quite well at FS and is even in talks to be DROY. So it can and has been done i dont see why Finnegan could make this transition. That being said i dont necessarily believe that will happen but the move would make sense. Regardless its still extremely plausible we take a Safety to pair with McDonald and solidify the back end of our defense. If that is indeed what they do this pick will be HaHa Clinton Dix. But the reason that i believe the Rams will choose a Corner over Free Safety is Corners are a higher value position. Fisher thinks so to, another look at his draft history shows in 18 years he has chosen a Safety only 3 times(One 1st Round/One 2nd Round/One 3rd Round) whereas with Corners he has drafted 32 of them (3 of them being 1st round selections). The specific reason i think the Rams take Ifo Ekpre Olomu is Fisher likes Corners who can tackle and play the run. Finnegan and Jenkins are both above average against the run for Corners. Ifo reminds me a lot of Finnegan and Jenkins. He is aggressive, not afraid to take on ball carriers, and plays with an attitude. This is what catches Fishers attention and Ekpre Olomu fits his Corner Back mold. Just to reiterate to those who have issue that i dont have a safety in the 1st round, this pick could very well be a Safety like Clinton Dix and wouldnt suprise me at all. But with the value of Corners vs Safeties and the fact that you could see Finnegan as a Free Safety have me convinced as of now that this selection will be a Corner.
#46 Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
So for now the assumption is Cortland will not move to Free Safety. If he does this pick obviously would be different. Now some of you may have heard of Calvin, for those of you who havent he is one hell of a player. Though he is on a Louisville squad who plays some pretty easy opponents he makes play after play. For a Free Safety he is a hard hitter which is something Fisher values out of his Safeties. A Safety tandem of McDonald and Pryor could be menacing, both can lay the wood and support the run well. Now there isnt much highlight footage of Pryor yet but you will start to see them pop up as the draft approaches. He is a player that makes splash plays but could work on consistency. But at that this defense could use some more of those splash play especially from our safeties. Weighing in at 6'1 210lbs he has all the size you could want from a Free Safety and i will be interested on how his combine performance will go. As far as stats in Pryors Freshman year (in which he didnt start in every game) he posted 43 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 7 pass defends and 2 forced fumbles. Sophmore year he posted 100 tackles, 1 sack, 3 interceptions, 7 pass defends and 5 forced fumbles. His Junior year which is this season he has posted 68 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 interceptions, 5 pass defends and 2 forced fumbles. Now his Junior year stats indicate he has regressed from his sophomore year but Pryor didn't post stats in 3 games. Against FIU and Central Florida both were blow outs so its understandable. But the 3rd game against Memphis he wasnt allowed to play for violating team rules. As you all know that last bit wont concern Fisher or Snead a bit. For those who question small school safeties look at Jonathan Cyprien of Jacksonville. A former Florida International Strong Safety he has come into the NFL and played very well for the Jaguars. So i urge those who havent watched him play yet to tune into the Russell Athletic Bowl Game on December 28th to get a good look at him.
#77 A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Now i know that this of all picks this might be the most common and controversial but it just makes so much sense. The Rams arent quiting on Bradford yet. He will be back as the starting QB next year and we need a more competent backup. I have a feeling the Rams wont try and get as fancy next year with all the spread 4 receiver sets. We will play a more ball control offense which McCarron is very accustomed to. I dont think McCarron is all to bad when it comes to being a dynamic passer but he isnt going to blow you away either. If he does well enough and Bradford struggles then we have someone to push Bradford. If Bradford steps up, plays well and we start winning a good amount of games we at least have a upgrade over Clemens who can come in a run the offense but also be a far better pocket QB. Its pretty cut and dry here with McCaron, he is a steady QB who dosent make a lot of mistakes and will keep us in games if Bradford go's down again. Now could this pick be Aaron Murray or even Zach Mettenberger(after ACL injury) sure it could but playing in a pro style offense bodes well for McCarron who should be able to come in and help us compete in games if god forbid Bradford gets hurt again.
Conclusion: So there you have it, my first mock of the year and initial thoughts as well. I will be updating this mock when news comes along(player decides to go back to school, off field incidents, trades, combine results ect..) and will be adding more rounds as we get closer to the 2014 NFL Draft and i have more of a chance to look into lower round prospects. Thank you all who have read the entire article i know it was very long and there is a lot of information. Please if you see any error in stats let me know and if you have any thought on the mock please comment below and let me know your thoughts.