We are now on the home stretch with respect to the NFL draft. Free agency and the signings/re-signings/tenders of TE Jared Cook, LT Jake Long, DE William Hayes, DT Jermelle Cudjo and S Darian Stewart will have an impact on the Rams draft plans and board. The losses of RB Steven Jackson, WR Danny Amendola and WR Brandon Gibson will also have an impact on the Rams strategies for the draft. This mock draft will take into account the composition of the draft, the impact free agency has had on the roster and an analysis of the drafting tendencies of Les Snead and Jeff Fisher.
The Rams roster and depth chart
I have been keeping the TST community updated on the status of the roster on an ongoing basis. The chart below comprises the Rams roster and depth chart as of April 1, 2013:
|C||Scott Wells||Tim Barnes|
|RG||Harvey Dahl||Brandon Washington|
|LG||Rokevious Watkins||Shelley Smith|
|RT||Rodger Saffold||Chris Williams||Ty Nsekhe|
|LT||Jake Long||Joe Barksdale|
|TE||Lance Kendricks||Cory Harkey||Cameron Graham|
|TE||Jared Cook||Mike McNeill|
|WR||Chris Givens||Austin Pettis|
|WR||Brian Quick||Raymond Radway||Nick Johnson|
|RB||Isaiah Pead||Terrance Ganaway|
|RB||Darryl Richardson||Chase Reynolds|
|QB||Sam Bradford||Austin Davis|
|DT||Michael Brockers||Matt Conrath|
|DT||Kendall Langford||Jermelle Cudjo|
|DE||Chris Long||Eugene Sims||Mason Brodine|
|DE||Robert Quinn||William Hayes|
|MLB||James Laurinaitis||Josh Hull|
|OLB||Jo-Lonn Dunbar||Jabara Williams|
|CB||Cortland Finnegan||Quinton Pointer|
|CB||Janoris Jenkins||Trumaine Johnson|
|S||Darian Stewart||Rodney McLeod|
The chart clearly shows the areas of need and the roster deficiencies heading into the draft. S, WR, OLB, G, and DT rotational depth are the greatest positional needs for the Rams at this point in time.
Observations regarding the composition of the draft
1. The first round of this years draft is generally considered to be bereft of elite talent.
2. The draft is considered to be very deep, especially at the positions of greatest need for the Rams.
3. There is a plateau in talent level between, roughly, the #5 pick and the #25 pick in the first round.
4. Much of the value in this draft is to be found in the #40 to #125 pick range. That range is also plateaued in talent level.
5. The composition of this draft is set up very well for the Rams to make maneuvers throughout the various rounds and align need with value.
Draft tendencies of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead
Last years draft was the first with the Rams organization for both Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. What can we learn about their tendencies and strategies from last years draft?
1. They are not afraid to take risks in the draft. Janoris Jenkins may have been the riskiest pick in the entire draft.
2. The Rams conducted three trade downs in last years draft. Fisher and Snead are not averse to trading down if they feel the value is there to do so.
3. Jeff Fisher has a history of drafting players from smaller schools. This practice continued last year, drafting players from Appalachian State (Quick), Montana (Johnson) and Abilene Christian (Richardson).
4. During the draft, the Rams committed to strengthening units of the team by double-dipping at three positions: Running Back (Pead and Richardson), Wide Receiver (Quick and Givens) and Cornerback (Jenkins and Johnson).
5. The players the Rams drafted last year would be considered higher ceiling and lower-to-medium floor selections.
One year of draft history with the Rams is not enough to establish a pattern. Nor is there any guarantee that they will employ the same rationale again this year. Each years draft is different in composition and complexity. The past is not always a reliable way to gauge what will happen in the future. The tendencies pointed out in this article are less about what WILL happen and more about giving us hints as to what COULD happen.
For this mock draft I have made two assumptions: Chance Warmack and Tavon Austin are off the board at the time of the Rams #16 pick. I believe they will both be picked in the top 15. The other assumption is that the Rams are making no other significant moves in free agency ( ie. I am basing the mock on the roster as it stands today). This mock incorporates some of the strategies and tendencies employed by Fisher and Snead in last years draft.
|1.22||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|1.23||Jonathan Cyprien||SS||Florida International|
|4.102||Brennan Williams||RT||North Carolina|
|4.113||Christine Michael||RB||Texas A & M|
|5.149||David Bass||DE||Missouri Western State|
|6.184||Cameron Lawrence||OLB||Mississippi State|
|7.222||Brandon Kaufman||WR||Eastern Washington|
To ensure that these selections were made in rounds that were realistic and conceivable, I used many different sources for confirmation: my own board, NFL.com, National Football Post, Drafttek, CBS NFL Draft Scout, SBN Mocking The Draft and Walter Football.
This mock draft contains draft tendencies of Fisher and Snead mentioned in this article: double-dipping at WR, S and OLB, small school selections, trading down, higher ceiling players and character issue players (Michael and Rambo).
There were two trade downs in this mock draft. The first involved trading down the #16 pick to the Minnesota Vikings for their #23, #83 and #102 picks. The second involved trading down the #78 pick in the third round to the Denver Broncos for their #90 and #125 picks. I did describe some of the difficulties associated with trading down in an earlier article (please click on link)
Jonathan Cooper - 2013 NFL Draft Profile (via Erick Ward)
Only one guard has been drafted in the top twenty picks in the last five drafts. I expect Chance Warmack to be drafted in the top fifteen this year and for Cooper to fall in a similar fashion as David DeCastro in last years draft. Cooper represents very good value at #22 and fills a big need on the interior line. This alignment of need and value overcomes my disposition towards not drafting a guard in the first round. Cooper also possesses ideal athleticism and a skill set that could easily translate into him becoming an outstanding center in the NFL.
Jonathan Cyprien - Ultimate 2012 Highlights (via ThatHighlightChannel)
The words of 3k best describe the selection of Cyprien in the first round:
"That being said, Cyprien would be a great fit for what the Rams are lacking at the back of their defense: aggression. Dahl's play was typified by passive tackling and poor angles that left Rams fans throwing things at their televisions. And his lack of natural pass defending and athleticism left the defense vulnerable especially in the red zone. Given the viability of the Rams' pass rush and cornerback talents, Cyprien's acclaimed weaknesses in center field coverage roles shouldn't be a huge issue. With San Francisco and Seattle loaded up for big seasons in 2013 powered by some offensive scheme we've barely heard in passing a few times (mandatory pistol sarcasm), bolstering the defense with fresh safety talent is a must for St. Louis this offseason. Cyprien checks off that box in a big way."
USC WR Robert Woods 2012 Highlights ᴴᴰ (via CollegeFootballLive)
If drafted by the Rams, Woods would likely have the best hands and run the best routes of any receiver currently on the team. Woods would be ideal in the slot, yet has the versatility to line up anywhere on the field. Given the composition of the Rams receiving corps, Woods is a nice fit and should contribute immediately. Exceptional value in the second round. His draft stock went down (and out of the first round) due to a lingering ankle problem in 2012, the emergence of Marquise Lee and the generally down season for the USC offense.
Highlights: Bacarri Rambo (via FoxSports)
Rambo compares favourably to Dashon Goldson, formerly of the San Francisco 49'ers. He does bring character issues, having twice failed drug tests at Georgia (the latest causing a 4 game suspension at the beginning of the 2012 season). This has caused his draft stock to drop to the third round. A pass thief (16 career interceptions) and intimidating hitter, he does have some technique issues regarding tackling and over-aggression on the the field. If those issues, along with the off the field issues, can be cleared up, he has Pro Bowl potential.
Ultimate Zaviar Gooden Highlights | HD (via TheFootballman175)
Gooden blew up the combine, running a 4.47 40 yard dash (best among linebackers) and was the fastest linebacker in every timed drill. He also exhibited excellent strength and leaping ability at the combine. Gooden projects as a weak side linebacker in the NFL. He is still a bit raw and has shown some inconsistencies, but has very good instincts for the position. A high ceiling, lower floor type of player coming into the draft. Also, a potential replacement for Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who is in the last year of his contract with the Rams.
Brennan Williams vs Virginia Tech (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Williams was rising up draft boards until suffering a torn labrum, missing the last four games of his senior season. He has ideal size (6'6", 318), athleticism and was a fine RT blocker for Giovani Bernard. Was honourable mention ALL-ACC despite the season ending injury. Flying under the radar because of his inability to participate at the combine, he has a high upside, although a little raw and unpolished at this point in his career.
Ultimate Christine Michael Texas A&M Highlights (via MooseHeadSports)
The choice of RB in the fourth round was a difficult one for me. I also looked at Le'Veon Bell and Knile Davis for this selection. I concluded that Bell will be off the board at the time of this pick. Although Michael has had a torn ACL and broken leg among his past injuries, I felt that Davis's ankle problems are chronic, dating back to his high school days. With respect to Michael, his injury history and character issues have had a negative impact on his draft stock . He has the talent to be a second round pick. At 5'10", 220 lbs. (and with 4.43 speed) he could be a fine complement as a power running back in the Rams backfield. Although he played mostly as a reserve in 2012 (due to attitude issues) he still managed to produce 12 rushing TD's and has a nose for the end zone.
Montori Hughes vs Northern Illinois (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Hughes is another small school prospect who played most of his snaps at the FCS level. He was invited to the Senior Bowl, where he held his own against the higher level competition, showing impressive strength, quickness, athleticism and intense competitiveness. He needs to improve on fundamentals, technique and reaction skills. Hughes has a high upside, and at 6'4" 329 lbs. is a physically gifted athlete. Will need time to mature on and off the field, but is an intriguing prospect.
David Bass Missouri Western State University (via Ryan Menley)
Bass dominated in Division Two, accumulating 39.5 sacks and 56 tackles for loss in his college career. He held his own in the East West Shrine game and had an excellent pro day. He exhibits quickness, good hand strength and explosiveness. He needs to develop and refine his pass rush skills and technique, and level of competition is a question mark as he enters the NFL. A high upside, high character, hard working player who will surprise at the next level.
Cameron lawrence Mississippi State L/B sacks,interceptions, force fumble ,tackles. (via BIGCHIEFUGAMUG75)
Lawrence is a sleeper pick who could surprise at the next level. A tackling machine who is still learning the position. In a post of mine, Eric Nagel and I were involved in a thread, one where he was watching film of various linebackers. I suggested that he look at Cameron Lawrence. Here was his response after checking out the film:
Where in the hell did he come from Wow, call me impressed. I’m sold.
Brandon Kaufman, WR, Eastern Washington University (via FosterAndEasley)
Kaufman is a small school prospect who played his entire collegiate career at the FCS level. In 2012, he broke the FCS single-season record with 1,850 receiving yards on 93 catches (19.9 yd. avg.) and 16 touchdowns. Productive throughout his career, deceptively quick, good size (6'5", 216), reliable hands and has the ability to consistently out-jump defenders. A sleeper prospect, with the main concern being the level of competition he faced.
Between free agency and this mock draft I believe the Rams will have addressed the offense in a major way, providing Sam Bradford with playmakers and a strengthened offensive line. Jake Long, Brennan Williams and Jonathan Cooper on the line, Jared Cook and Robert Woods as receivers and Christine Michael in the backfield.
Other players that were given serious consideration for this mock draft included: S Matt Elam, Shawn Williams and D.J. Swearinger, LB Alec Ogletree, Kevin Reddick, Sio Moore and Khaseem Greene, DT Sylvester Williams and Brandon Williams, OL Chris Faulk, Larry Warford, Earl Watford, Barrett Jones and David Quessenberry, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Keenan Allen, Markus Wheaton and DeAndre Hopkins and RB Marcus Lattimore, Knile Davis and Le'Veon Bell.
The intent of this article was to illustrate what the Rams could do in the upcoming draft if they employed the strategies/tendencies inherent in last years draft.
Thanks for taking the time to read! Please vote in the poll. Your comments and opinions are always welcomed and appreciated!