The dust has settled on the first day of the TST/MtD Live Mock Draft. Three rounds are in and the remainder of the draft will be concluded on Sunday. I have had the privilege of being part of the experience in the Rams war room, and would like to share my thoughts on the day that has ended.
This is the second time that I have been involved in a draft like this and been in a war room. The first was the three round live mock on MtD weeks ago. It is quite the experience, as close as one can get to being in a real NFL draft day war room . I do suggest that if anyone ever gets the chance to do it, that they avail themselves of the opportunity. It is one thing to post mock drafts and make comments on threads; it is quite another to be in the war room making selections for the Rams.
Selections in the first three rounds
The Rams made the following selections in the first three rounds:
1A - Sharrif Floyd - DT - Florida
1B - Justin Hunter - WR - Tennessee
2A - Matt Elam - SS - Florida
3A - Chris Faulk - OT - LSU
By now, most know about the controversial trade up the Rams made: trading our #16, Rodger Saffold and our fourth round pick (#113) to Arizona for their #7 and their fifth round pick (#140). Although I had no knowledge of the trade until after the fact, I stand behind what the war room was trying to accomplish. It was an incredibly risky trade to make, one that would have reaped huge dividends if the plan had come to fruition. The plan was to trade up with the idea of trading back down. It also involved the notion that Rodger Saffold would no longer be a Ram after this coming season (ie. getting something of value in the draft for a player we would likely lose at the end of the season). The trade was of equal value if you use the draft trade tables. If the next phase of the plan had worked, there would have been a lot of happy TST'ers. The front office came very close to concluding a deal that would have sent the #7 pick to Minnesota for their #23 and #25 picks (and other considerations). I believe the trade up was made on the premise that this deal could be accomplished, giving the Rams three first round picks (#22, #23 and #25). The front office worked tirelessly in trying to work out a deal for the #7, with more than one team. In the end, all attempts failed. Of course, the end result changed the entire complexity of the draft for the Rams. It is worth noting that the front office attempted to trade down the #22 pick during the course of the first round, again to no avail.
Given the predicament of having to draft at the #7 position, the war room made the only choice it really could make: drafting a defensive lineman. Floyd was chosen over Star Lotulelei. I believe this pick is a very solid one. One that would make the Rams defensive line that much more dominant and top five in the NFL.
Again, many attempts were made to trade down the #22 pick. By that point in time, all of the top offensive linemen were gone, Patterson and Austin were gone, Ogletree and J.Jones were gone, as was Kenny Vaccaro. We limited the choices, by position, to safety, offensive tackle and wide receiver. From our board, that meant Fluker, Hunter, Cyprien, Reid and Elam. Hunter was the top rated WR on our board. The safeties and Fluker were eliminated for value reasons and tackle depth in the draft, respectively. Hunter was not the top receiver on many boards. However, if he can straighten out the mental aspects of recovering from his knee injury (and the drops), he has as much upside as any receiver in this draft. There was little disagreement about this pick in the war room.
It was decided very early after the Hunter pick that we would target a safety in the second round. Offensive line was also considered, but when Larry Warford was chosen, it was felt that Kyle Long and Menelik Watson should not be considered in the second round. Once Cyprien and Reid were both gone, it was unanimous to target Matt Elam with the second round pick. There were some anxious moments leading up to that #46 pick, and much elation when we could announce that Elam indeed was the selection. Elam was the top rated safety left on our board, one that I believe was great value at #46. A pick that would be an immediate upgrade to the Rams weakest unit.
After the second round pick, much of the focus went to drafting an offensive tackle in the third round. Which tackle to draft became the liveliest debate thus far in the draft, with many varying opinions on what the tackle board should be (Watson, Pugh and Armstead were gone by this time). The names on the board considered were: Kyle Long, Brennan Williams, Chris Faulk, David Bakhtiari, Barrett Jones and Dallas Thomas. Jones, Bakhtiari and Long were selected well before our pick. We flip flopped on Faulk and Williams, finally settling on Williams. Unfortunately, Williams was chosen with the pick just before ours. It took very little time to put Faulk's name in. The pick carries a fair amount of risk. Faulk was thought of as a possible first round prospect until missing the 2012 season with a knee injury. This pick might also have been considered a reach to some extent by those outside the war room. The loss of Saffold in the trade caused a lot of that urgency to draft a tackle in the third round. The lack of a fourth round pick also added to the urgency. It should be noted that Faulk was the highest rated OT still left on our board.
I can't speak for the others in the war room. This post is comprised of my thoughts and observations from a long day in the war room. I thought it might be a nice idea to share with the TST community some of the goings on and rationale used today. Please vote in the poll and share your thoughts and opinions. As an aside, please note that dbcouver is the GM for this draft, and his original big board gave all of us the general guideline for the selections that were made. He is to be applauded for his efforts and incredibly astute knowledge. I also learned a lot from some of the giants in that war room. Truly a humbling experience.
Day Two Update
Day two went rather smoothly and things fell into place rather nicely we thought. We conducted a trade for Arizona's fourth round pick, giving them one of our fifth rounders and our sixth round pick. We believed that more of an impact player could be found in the fourth round than later rounds, especially at running back, safety and OLB. We then used the fourth round pick on running back Le'Veon Bell. Very good value and a great fit for the Rams. OLB was our target in the fifth round. Jelani Jenkins was our first choice, but the war room settled on OLB Gerald Hodges when Jenkins was taken before the Rams pick. A solid all around LB, also representing fine value. FS Zeke Motta was our final pick in the seventh round. He represents very good value here and fills a need. The second day strategy was to continue filling needs with the BPA on our board (with slight variations). The positions the war room were targeting included running back, outside linebacker, free safety, guard and wide receiver.
Although there was some confusion with the UDFA process, here are the names we did take originally: G Blaize Foltz, WR Brandon Kaufman, TE Phil Lutzenkirchen, LB Tom Wort and CB/S Greg Reid.
Here is the recap of all of our selections:
1. Sharrif Floyd - DT
1. Justin Hunter - WR
2. Matt Elam - SS
3. Chris Faulk - OT
4. Le'Veon Bell - RB
5. Gerald Hodges - OLB
7. Zeke Motta - FS
Hope you are all happy with the second day's results!!
This live mock event convinced me of two things: the incredible depth in this draft, and that the Rams should trade down at least one of their first round picks to reap the benefits of that depth. In addition, this live mock also reinforced my conviction that the upcoming draft is VERY deep at some of the positions of need for the Rams: running back, safety, wide receiver and defensive tackle. Overall, there is value to be found right into the seventh round.
My personal grades for our picks and strategies (with the benefit of hindsight) April 22:
Floyd - A-
Hunter - B-
Elam - A
Faulk - C+
Bell - A
Hodges - B+
Motta - B+
"The Trade" - B+/A- for the vision, C for the end result. I believe the trade was done with a solid plan in mind. The points given for Saffold were the equivalent of a second round pick. The expectation of trading down the #7 pick, while risky, was reasonable. One of the unusual happenings of this draft was the overwhelming urge for so many teams to trade down and accumulate picks. It went against the grain of how a "normal" NFL draft should transpire. My overall grade, with all factors taken into account, would be a B.