Of course around this time of year people develop their man crushes through the draft and get crushed themselves when that player doesn't get picked and goes off somewhere else, succeeding.. If you are a team like the Patriots you have more than enough talent to draft players that can sit on the bench for a season or two and develop behind proven talent, but if you're a team like the Rams you don't have that privilege. Players get thrown into the fire way to quick and bust out because they're just not ready for that type of responsibility. This is where the Free Agency comes into focus and where teams have to balance whether getting a player through Free Agency would be a better fit rather than through the draft. As we look further we must all ask ourselves, would getting a free agent at a certain position be better for the team then drafting for that position? Lets take a look...
Welker has been a consistent variable at the wide receiver position for the Patriots for the last 6 years. He has had 100 receptions in those 6 seasons while averaging well over 1000 yards. Some might even ask why the Patriots won't pay the man while that seems to be fairly obvious to me.
1. He would cost too much money
2. Slot Receiver are a dime a dozen
Welker, along with his numbers the past 6 years, will be asking for top dollar from any team that will be interested in him. This brings along two problems when talking about Welker. The first question comes of whether Welker is a system type Receiver. This question draws legitimacy when you consider Welker was a nobody before he dressed up in a Patriots uniform which would draw many to the conclusion that Brady made him (which would make for a good conclusion). Never before Welker into Patriot's nation did he ever assemble a 100 reception season nor a 1000 yard season. Then when you consider that receivers, although not as talented as Welker, that play the slot fairly well come out of the draft every year, you can see easily why the Kraft family doesn't want to give up the cash. It would suit Welker well if he did stay with the Patriots because nowhere else will he get the targets nor work with the best Quarter back in the league. Sure, he could be good for the Rams and I'd welcome it but the Fisher and Snead have already said they aren't going to send any big money in Free Agency on a player so Welker is out of the question.
This same problem arises for many other receivers including Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace. Considering Greg Jennings is probably looking at his last big contract and Mike Wallace is arguably the best deep threat in the league they both deserve it. But for the sake of the argument, lets take off the dollar signs and look at other reasons why none of these players will be targeted. Greg Jennings is going to be 30 by time the NFL season starts which means he's about the be on the down slope of his career. This would seem like a quick fix for a Rams team that is still in a bit of a rebuilding phase. The same thing is to be said about Welker who is 30 going on 31 in May. Then we come to Wallace who is still pretty young but in simple terms is a bit of a one trick pony. To this we already have one of him in Givens who we hope will develop to be more than just a down the field. receiver although no one is complaining about his down the field attributes.
When you look at the draft, it shows a lot of promise with receivers like:
When you look at how the Rams have handled their business this past year under the new regime, you have to think they won't leave this draft without one of these players. They seem in no rush to try and stake their whole cap on just one receiver or player. This might favor the drafting of Patterson but I hope not. Although I am preaching potential right now I do hope they draft a receiver that will step in immediately although I can't question their methods.
Then, we have the Offensive Line which has generated heated debate as to what exactly the Rams should do. This is a position that I wouldn't mind the Rams going through Free Agency to try and fill a gap, but we can still rely on the Draft in order to get a guy for the future whether it be for the Right Tackle position or Guard. Louis Vasquez is a great talent that the Chargers will miss as they let him go to Free Agency. Add in the fact that he's just 25 years old and this guy will generate a lot of attention this off season. Vasquez is a Guard which means he would fill a hole for the Rams. If we could get him for a reasonable price I would be ecstatic. Sebastian Vollmer, who was discussed as being one of the best Right Tackle in the league for a while will be another interesting player. You could say he would cost too much but coming off a stretch of injuries, this could drop his cost just a bit down into the Rams ballpark. Eric Winston has been discussed on here before so we all know about him. His salary for 2013 would have been 6.5 Million so look for something in that ballpark to be asked. Phil Loadholt is another intriguing prospect. At 6'8, dude is a monster. Has stayed consistent and durable throughout his career on the right side, he should get some interest from teams around the league looking for a right tackle. Here are some others that should be on the Rams radar:
Andre Smith, OT, Cincinatti Bengles
Brandon Moore, G, New York Jets - Also famously known for Butt Fumble
Then you come to the draft, which has a lot of potential along with receivers. We all know about Warmack who doesn't look likely to drop to the Rams right now unless he impregnates 30 women and gets caught with weed. There's also Jonathan Cooper who looks to be every bit as skilled as Warmack with less press. He could be at both the Rams 16th pick and 22nd pick if we did choose to go that route. Last, but not least there's Lane Johnson, who has been the center of attention on the site as the front runner when it comes to Tackles in the draft. Here's some others:
D.J. Fluker, OT/G, Alabama
Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
Kyle Long, OT/G, Oregon
Chris Fault, OT, LSU
Dallas Thomas, G/OT, Tennessee
Barrett Jones, C/G/T, Alabama
Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
Travis Fredrick, G/C, Wisconsin
All of these Tackles have the potential to start some day at the respective position, but what we need to ask ourselves is exactly what would be the most logical thing to do at the Guard and Right Tackle spots. I believe the most logical thing to do is get a Guard in Free Agency, my favorite being Louis Vasquez considering his youth and talent. Then go after a Tackle with an early round selection, probably being in the second, with a player like Brennan Williams, D.J. Fluker, or Menelik Watson considering either of the 3 could be there at our second round selection. All 3 have the ability to start from day one on the right side seeing as we all know it's far easier to play Right Tackle from day one then it is to play Left Tackle. With those 2 (potential) pickups, our line looks a lot more formidable.
With that, what do you think? Where should the Rams go for their two biggest needs on Offense?
*Props to RamFan1313 for the idea of the post*