With the recent rumors suggesting the Rams could look at Jake Long in free agency I have decided to share my dream scenario in FA and the draft. I am not sure if this scenario is possible within the cap but It doesn't seem terribly unlikely.
First- Let Jackson, Amendola, Gibson, and any other free agent go to free up as much cap as possible.
I think that Jackson will wear down soon and I would rather see what the young guns can do. I think that, unlike some RBs, Jackson strongest attributes have always been his athleticism and his decision making (on the field) could be called questionable. With Jackson nearing the age where most RBs lose their athleticism, I would rather see what our young, talented RB by committee can do.
Amendola is a solid player but I believe some team will pay him more than we are willing to pay and I will not be upset to lose him, especially if we can sign someone of Long's caliber.
Second- Sign Jake Long.
This would eat up a large portion of the cap but I still believe that Jake Long is worth it. Jake Long has been a pro bowl player 3 of his 4 years in the NFL and he is coming off of his worst year in the NFL. I think that helps the Rams in the negotiation process where maybe they could strike a deal with him. Signing Long would allow Saffold to move to the right side of the OL and would dramatically improve the overall talent level of our line.
In this scenario, I believe the Bengals could fall in love with a player at 16 and they would trade us their two second round picks for our 16th and our 4th round pick. I also think the Jets could fall for a QB like Barkley at the end of the 1st and trade up for their 2013 and 2014 second round picks. I am not sure the points match up in those trades but, remember, this is a dream scenario. These trades would give us four 2nd round picks, a 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and an additional 2nd in 2014.
There are four players that I see as first round talents that I feel, following the combine, will fall to the second rounds in the draft.
Keenan Allen- I think that the WR class has just become a lot more interesting and that one of the least exciting names of the group is Allen, who I feel is the most dependable. I think he could fall due to injury history and poor measurables, but I think he has the talent to compete with the best of the receivers in the class.
Alec Ogletree- Ogletree has further damaged his reputation with a DUI and there have been reports that many people did not get the responses they were looking for in his interviews. Ogletrees character concerns would make him a steal in the second.
Barrett Jones- Jones did not perform in the combine due to his recent surgery which may cause him to slip lower than he should. He seems like a pros pro and if he fell to the Rams in the second that would address our need for a guard, and prepare for a future need at center. The most recent walterfootball mock, a very reputable mock in my opinion, had Jones falling to the third.
Matt Elam- Elam is an undersized safety that I think many see as the third best safety in the draft (behind Vaccaro and Cyperion). I, however, think Elam is the best playmaker of the bunch and probably the best overall player. I don't believe a run on safeties will start until the late first, allowing for Elam to fall to the second.
2.37- Keenan Allen
2.39- Alec Ogletree
2.46- Matt Elam
2.53- Barrett Jones
3.78- Marcus Lattimore - Lattimore is a risk regarding injury but he is also exactly the type of player, when healthy, that the Rams need. If we drafted Lattimore I would even feel comfortable giving him a year on the IR to get his legs completely healthy in order to have a player with his potential, fully healthy, running behind our O-line.
5- Ray Ray Armstrong- While playing for Miami his freshman and sophomore years he looked to me like the next Sean Taylor. Things did not go as well for him as I would have thought but I believe he still has elite potential and with the 5th round pick I find him to be worth the risk. I think of him as this years Bryce Brown.
I then would use the 6th and 7th rounds to add cheap depth specifically to the offensive and defensive lines.
This scenario would give us, most notably
RB- Pead, Richardson, Lattimore
WR- Allen, Givens, Quick, Pettis
OL- Long, Jones, Wells, Dahl, Saffold
LB- Ogletree, Laurinaitis, Dunbar
DB- Finnegan, Jenkins, Johnson, Elam, Armstrong
The 2014 draft would also be made stronger with two picks in the 1st and 2nd rounds. I am not sure when Finnegan's contract is up but if it expired in 2014 (ideally) Longs contract would take its place. These picks would also, theoretically, make us above average at every position thus putting Bradford's fate in his own hands. If his season goes poorly and the Rams want to move on they could make a move up for a Bridgewater type prospect.