St. Louis Rams: Could an OLB in the First Round Make Sense?

A great first round option for the St. Louis Rams? - Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

This is going to take a bit of explaining, so bare with me...

Something odd happen yesterday over at Mocking the Draft during the "LIVE" two round mock draft... I watched the first round unfold in such a way, that virtually all the the prospects predicted for the Rams were gone when the #16 pick came around. Tavon Austin? Gone! Chance Warmack? Outta here! Every offensive lineman prospect had been snatched up. I know mock drafts can be titchy things at times, but this one got me thinking about the real NFL Draft in April... What happens if the players we as fans covet are gone when our team's pick number rolls up?

I wound up taking Cordarelle Patterson with pick #16 for the Rams. Here's how it happened:

1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
3. Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
5. Detroit Lions - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
6. Cleveland Browns - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
7. Arizona Cardinals - Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
8. Buffalo Bills - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
9. New York Jets - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
10. Tennessee Titans - Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
11. San Diego Chargers - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
12. Miami Dolphins - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
14. Carolina Panthers - Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
15. New Orleans Saints - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

If you look at any of the draft big boards out there, you'll rarely see Jonathan Cyprien rated a first round pick, and even Tavon Austin went a bit high at #8 for Buffalo. But if you've watched past NFL Drafts, someone always - ALWAYS - throws a wrench into the first round. Whether through a trade, or New York Jets draft rationale, something odd happens. So with the top safeties, linemen and the tiny West Virginia wide receiver gone, Patterson became a BPA choice at this spot. I'm OK with it, though some don't like his raw talent this high in the draft.

Next, teams began to veer a bit from what I thought were base needs and, well... Here's what happened:

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
18. Dallas Cowboys - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
19. New York Giants - Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
20. Chicago Bears - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
21. Cincinnati Bengals - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

It may be just me not thinking as much as others about Arthur Brown, but the Cowboys, Giants, and Bears suddenly found themselves in the land of best player available. The Bengals grabbed an interesting prospect in Hopkins. Then it was the Rams turn at #22, and a small run on outside linebackers began.

22. St. Louis Rams - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
23. Minnesota Vikings - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
24. Indianapolis Colts - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
25. Minnesota Vikings - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
26. Green Bay Packers - Matt Elam, S, Packers
27. Houston Texans - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
28. Denver Broncos - Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
29. New England Patriots - Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
30. Atlanta Falcons - Alex Okafor, OLB, Texas
31. San Francisco 49ers - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
32. Baltimore Ravens - Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame

This has to be the longest lead in ever for an article, but I needed to show you what could very well happen on NFL Draft day in one form or another. The Rams war room MADE me take Jarvis Jones! 1313 was stomping his feet and RamsintheUK threatened me with his cricket bat! Mock Drafts are dangerous places, and... OK, I'm lying just a tiny bit. Both guys had mixed feelings about the pick, so I went ahead and made it. Dbcouver's train almost went off the tracks no doubt, but there you are, and what followed was a run on OLBs that got me to thinking something like this could actually happen.

The defense of the Jones pick - versus Alec Ogletree - is hard to explain. Both players are remarkably similar in size: Jones - 6'2", 245 lbs, Ogletree - 6'2, 242. Both played on the same defense in college: Georgia. Ogletree had 11 tackles versus 85 for Jones. Their 2012 sack totals made the choice for me though: Jones 14.5 to Ogletree's 3. I've long coveted an edge rushing outside linebacker who could move along the line and add some scary to Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Jones fit a nice picture in my head, and Ogletree seems more like an inside linebacker in a 3-4 to me, so I went with it. Six linebacker came of the board after the #21 pick, and eight total in the first round. Make no mistake about it - The 2013 linebacker class is strong.

We look at a player's draft stock as it rises and falls, trying to glean where they'll hear their names called on draft day. NFL fans see positions on their favorite teams they'd love to see improved, but I'm not sure we see what an NFL coach or GM does. While it's true a player's statistics don't lie, they really don't show the full picture. Player development is a singularly unique thing to each player too. The bottom line is how a team shifts from mediocre to top tier, and that's by adding key position components whenever they can. A pass rushing outside linebacker has long been on the St. Louis Rams' wish list. If the real NFL Draft plays out close to this one, wouldn't it be time for the Rams to hit the "Buy" button at outside linebacker?

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