Are the St. Louis Rams the crotchety old men of the NFL? In a league where teams such as the Seahawks and the 49ers are on the forefront of offensive and defensive innovation, the Rams schemes come across as basic. Greg Cosell's recent piece sheds light on the issue. However, the draft offers the Rams the chance to add multitalented players.
Much has been written this off-season about the schematic changes taking place in the NFL - specifically concerning the Seahawk's offense and defense. Teams are thirsty for versatility. Traits that were once coveted, aren't as desireable anymore.
Pick #16 - Tavon Austin
On offense, space and flexibility are worth their weight in gold. Tavon Austin's draft stock illuminates this shift in paradigm. Once thought to be a day two pick, Austin is now being linked to teams within the top 10.
Some argue that he isn't a "true" WR and consequently shouldn't be as valuable, but they are missing the entire point. Adding a multi-talented player like Tavon Austin or Percy Harvin allows the offense to stress the defense in multiple ways. No matter where a player like the Austin or Harvin lines up, defenses must account for them. Throw in motions, screens, and shifts, and the defense will be scrambling to avoid mismatches. There isn't one cookie cutter way of running an offense that guarantees success. A player such as Austin allows for creativity and creativity is gold.
Pick #22 - Alec Ogletree
The Rams defensive personnel doesn't allow for much versatility. At linebacker, James Laurinaitis offers little versatility athletically, and the same can be said for Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Perhaps the most versatile player the Rams have in the front seven is Robert Quinn. Quinn has enough speed to stand up, and has the length and strength to be effective from a 3 point stance. Yet, with only one such player, the Rams aren't able to maximize his versatility.
Alec Ogletree is one of the most athletically gifted players in the entire draft. He is a former safety and is the best cover linebacker in the draft. Not only can Ogletree cover, but his elite combination of height, weight, length, and explosiveness allow him to rush the passer effectively as well. Ogletree is still raw, and has off-the-field issues which could cause him to drop.
Pick #46 - Jonathan Cyprien
Having a safety who can patrol the back of the defense, time blitzes well, and make plays in the run game, allows teams to take chances. For example, Seattle is able to use Earl Thomas in all three roles, making defenses account for his presence every down. Do you think the same can be said for Craig Dahl?
Jonathan Cyprien is a versatile safety who has skyrocketed up draft boards. Cyprien sparked peoples interest because he was used in so many different ways at Florida International. One play he would be covering a deep third and the next he'd be darting in on a blitz. Some view Cyprien as a SS due to his knock your head off attitude, however he does possess the sideline to sideline ability needed to play FS.
Overall, the NFL is changing, and I expect the Rams to keep pace. I'm not saying that they will overhaul their offensive and defensive schemes, but rather draft athletes that allow for creativity.