It's a pretty haphazard discussion when it comes to what the Rams should do to change the last line of defense in the secondary for 2013. Before free agency even starts, the Rams have questions to address. They could be looking for two new starting safeties, one new starting safeties or possibly none, however the last option is pretty unlikely.
It's normally tough for us quasi-professionals to get any sort of grip on the realistic plans the Rams have during the offseason. You might mock a player who the Rams have reported interest in for that very reason and people would generally agree. With safeties, it isn't that simple. There are simply so many options available that it's impossible to think you have a guided idea on who will suit up and play on Sundays in the Fall.
Look at this offseason, for example, there are a ton of highly-prized free agents, a ton of highly-prized draft prospects and then there is Craig Dahl.
Editor's note: Craig Dahl is highly-prized by no one.
How many first to third round safeties can you count in your head? Vaccaro, Reid, Elam, Swearinger, Jefferson, Cyprien, Thomas, McDonald. How many am I missing? That doesn't begin to include the four or five free agents (some of which have ties to the Rams new DC Tim Walton) that would bring immediate upgrades to the position.
But the biggest problem is that the Rams are going to have to gamble on their starting safeties. On one hand, you've got an aging, expensive veteran that has a very specific skill set. Quintin Mikell is not going to fool anyone in coverage. He's going to be in the box, he's probably going to be blitzing, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The sad truth, however, is that the Rams most likely will be broke by keeping Mikell on-board. Ignoring the fact that he's statistically (does one say, advanced statistically, because technically, they are 'advanced stats') a top five safety, what do you with him? And that doesn't even include any draft picks the Rams add! That's a lot of money tied up to a position not typically known as the highest value spot on the field.
For example, a hypothetical question: what happens if the Rams draft, say, Matt Elam to replace Mikell, but he can't win out the starting job? Nobody is ready to give up on Brian Quick, but they sure expect every 2013 draftee to make an immediate impact.
Since this is the point where I typically talk about who I like, I'd be sad if I didn't throw out names like D.J. Swearinger or Tony Jefferson. I've been pretty vocal about resisting the first round safety binge that's been occurring in mock drafts of late, since there are just too many players available not even a full round later.
The thing is, look at some of the players the Rams drafted last year. Chris Givens wasn't much outside a deep threat, but as he became more comfortable with the offense, his versatility increased. Michael Brockers was known for his run defending chops, and as he became more comfortable in the defense his pass rushing acumen increased. I think the Rams will look for players that excel in a particular skill and can be taught other facets of the game as they grow.
That way, they'll be able to find players later that can make a difference right away. They're going to need it, because they don't have enough cash or draft picks to fill every hole on the team.