Predicting the NFL draft is impossible. An unlimited amount of variables intertwine to form an unending labyrinth of possibilities. Variables such as GM/Coach draft history, positions of need, best player available, divisional strengths/weaknesses, and trades all get mushed together and result in a name on a card reading "with the ___ pick of the 2013 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams select ____________."
Attempting to decode these variables could lead us closer to finding out who the Rams will take come draft day. You may want to break this up into two separate reads.
GM/Coach Draft History
The Rams front office draft history is a mixture of new and old. Jeff Fisher has been around the block and has years of draft history to pull from. Whereas Les Snead is a young gun in the game and we are still figuring out his draft approach. However, we can learn a lot when we combine Fisher's draft history and last season's draft.
1. The flashy pick may not always be the right pick.
As I wrote back in January, the Rams had plenty of opportunities to go flashy in round one in 2012, but chose not to. The Rams traded out instead of drafting RG3. They also passed up on Morris Claiborne, a player hyped as the best corner in the draft. Instead, the Rams elected to select Michael Brockers, a defensive tackle - not exactly the sexiest pick - but Brockers transformed the Rams run defense.
2. Throughout Jeff Fisher's history, first round lineman haven't been coveted. However, the changes to the rookie wage scale have made first round lineman fiscally viable.
3. Fisher and Snead like players with high ceilings. The Rams 2012 draft and Jeff Fisher's draft history is littered with players yet to reach their talent ceiling. In 2012 players such as Michael Brockers, Isaiah Pead, Brian Quick, and Rokevious Watkins were selected over their more polished counterparts.
While in Tennessee, Fisher preferred players with high ceilings as well. The selections of Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Derrick Morgan, and Jason Jones all justify this assertion. All of the aforementioned players were considered raw when they entered the NFL.
The Current Roster and Positions of Need
The Rams have some glaring holes on the roster that must be addressed. Here is a spreadsheet with my analysis of the Rams current roster.
Red = Locked In Starter
Green = FA in 2014 (Darian Stewart, and Eugene Sims as well)
Pink = Unproven/Upgradable
Orange = Dependable backu
The wide receiver position is filled with unproved players and has little to no depth. Austin Pettis has developed a repoire with Sam Bradford, but could be upgraded. Brian Quick is expected to start, but is still a question mark. Chris Givens is a lock as a day 1 starter.
The Rams will look to take a WR early.
Jake Long, Harvey Dahl, and Scott Wells are locked in at their positions. Roger Saffold will definitely start at RT, however he will be a FA in '14 and the Rams may choose to be proactive in replacing him. Rokevious Watkins and Shelly Smith are unknowns and, depending on how the Rams project them, could be upgraded in the draft.
Jeff Fisher could address the offensive line early or choose to stick to his roots and wait. Either way, I would not be surprised.
The quarterback position is locked. Sam Bradford is the guy, Austin Davis is the back-up, and Kellen Clemons is the bench warmer.
Although the Rams spent two draft picks on running back last year, the Rams may look to add some bulk.
Pead and Richardson are both in the 'change of pace' mold so don't be surprised if the Rams go RB early.
The defensive line is the Rams strongest positional group. Brockers, Quinn and Long are all beasts and Langford looks poised for a breakout year.
The Rams do lack depth at the defensive tackle position so it wouldn't surprise me at all if they take one early if one slides.
James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar are solid linebackers, but the Rams lack an athletic presence. Outside linebacker may be the most glaring hole behind free safety. Dunbar also becomes a free agent after the 2013 season.
The Rams will address outside linebacker early. Count on it.
While many perceive this group as finished, depth at corner is a need for the Rams. Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan present a formidable duo and Trumaine Johnson looks to have the makings of a good one, but that's it.
Corner looks like it will be a mid-late round target for the Rams.
The organization looks to be behind Darian Stewart (a '14 UFA), however there is little to go off of. After Stewart, the Rams tout a pair of unknowns. Thankfully for the Rams, the safety position is loaded in this years draft.
I would be shocked if the Rams haven't selected a safety by round 3.
Not a traditional position, but the Rams are in need of a return man. Watching kick return and punt return last year was torture for Rams fans.
Hopefully the Rams do something to address the return game.
Best Player Available
The Rams have the luxury of multiple 1st round picks in the next two drafts. If a player such as Sheldon Richardson were to fall, it would be hard for the Rams pass on a blue-chip prospect such as Richardson knowing that they get to pick again in the first. Don't be shocked if the Rams take a player who falls on draft day that wouldn't fill one of the Rams glaring holes.
Drafting For Division
The Rams are in a unique division. The Seahawks and 49ers both run offenses that feature mobile quarterbacks. The Rams may choose to draft players specifically to stymie Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. An athletic sideline-to-sideline player such as Alec Ogletree could fit that mold.
The Rams drafted well last season but they are still on the lower end of the talent spectrum within the NFL. For that reason I don't foresee the Rams trading up, however, a trade down seems like it could possibly happen. The draft this year will feature a gaggle of trades - perhaps the most ever in the first round.
|1. Kansas City Chiefs
||Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
|2. Jacksonville Jaguars
||Dion Jordan, Linebacker||DE/LB||6'6 1/4||248||Sr.|
|3. Miami Dolphins - Trade W/ Oakland
||Eric Fisher, Cental Michigan||OT||6'7 1/4
|4. Philadelphia Eagles
Geno Smith, West Virginia
|5. Detroit Lions
||Ezekial Ansah, BYU||DE||6'5 1/4||271||Sr.|
|6. Cleveland Browns
||Dee Milliner, Alabama||CB||5'11 7/8||201||Jr.|
|7. Arizona Cardinals
||Lane Johnson, Oklahoma||OT||6'6||303||Sr.|
|8. San Francisco 49ers
||Tavon Austin, West Virginia||WR||5'8 1'2||174||Sr.|
|9. New York Jets
||Barkevious Mingo, LSU||DE/OLB||6'4 1/4||241||Jr.|
|10. Tennessee Titans
||Chance Warmack, Alabama||G||6'2 1/2
|11. San Diego Chargers
||Jarvis Jones, Georgia||DE/OLB||6'2 7/8||245||Jr.|
|12. Oakland Raiders (TRADE with Dolphins)
||Sharrif Floyd, Florida||DT||6'2 5/8
|13. New York Jets (TRADE with Buccaneers)
||Jonathan Cooper, UNC||G||6'2 1/8||311||Sr.|
|14. Carolina Panthers
||Star Lotulelei, Utah||DT||6'2 1/2
|15. New Orleans Saints
Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
|16. St. Louis Rams
||Alec Ogletree, Georgia||LB||6'2 1/2||242||Jr.|
|17. Pittsburgh Steelers
||Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee||WR||6'1 7/8||216||Jr.|
|18. Dallas Cowboys
||Kenny Vaccaro, Texas||FS||6'1
|19. New York Giants
||DJ Fluker, Alabama||DE||6'4 5/4||339||Sr.|
|20. Chicago Bears
||Arthur Brown, Kansas State||LB||6'0
|The era of Urlacher is over and a replacement is needed. Arthur Brown is a physical freak and has the versatility to play all over the 4-3.
|21. Cincinnati Bengals
Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
|22. Buffalo Bills (Trade Up From 31 from SF trade)
EJ Manuel, Florida State
|23. Minnesota Vikings
Keenan Allen, California
|24. Indianapolis Colts
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
|25. Minnesota Vikings
||DJ Hayden, Houston||CB||5'11||191||Sr.|
|26. Green Bay Packers
Menelik Watson, Florida State
|27. Houston Texans
||DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson||WR||6'1
|28. Denver Broncos
||Bjoern Werner, Florida State||DE||6'3
|29. New England Patriots
Desmond Trufant, Washington
|30. Atlanta Falcons
Tank Carradine, Florida State
|31. St. Louis Rams (Trade Back with Bills who traded back with 49ers)||Justin Hunter, Tennessee||WR||
|32. Baltimore Ravens
||Matt Elam, Florida||S||5'10