Three weeks from today, friends.
It's like the opposite of the Doomsday Clock.
So with our 21-day window in front of us, Mel Kiper offered up a fresh, new 2-round mock to peruse; sadly, it is behind ESPN's insider paywall because ESPN wants you not to be able to read it or some dumbness.
One of the major questions I've been asking for a few months regards the status of quarterbacks - how many will be taken in the first 15 picks? Van and I touched on this yesterday in our Google+ Hangout, but it appears that Geno Smith is the only QB who likely comes off the board before the Rams are on the clock. Surprisingly, Kiper has him going to the Eagles at 4. It's an interesting situation worth keeping an eye given the impact it will have on the Rams' board at 16.
Another issue that is creeping toward a negative effect for the Rams is the same issue for O-linemen. Look at Kiper's top 15 picks and how many are O-linemen: Luke Joeckel #1 to the Chiefs, Eric Fisher #7 to the Cardinals, Jonathan Cooper #8 to the Bills, Chance Warmack at #10 to the Titans, Lane Johnson at #11 to the Chargers and D.J. Fluker at #12 to the Dolphins. That doesn't leave much for the Rams to deal with in terms of offensive linemen in the 1st round.
With all those names off the board, it's the pick of the moment for the Rams at 16, one you knew was coming if you read Van's note from Kiper's transcript earlier this week:
16.) Tavon Austin - WR, West Virginia
Danny Amendola will be catching passes from Tom Brady in 2013, so the Rams can certainly afford to place a high priority on a slot weapon. Austin is one of the true home run threats in this draft, and while he's perfect to work in the slot, given his speed, route-running skills and soft hands, this is a player you can get creative with. The loss of Amendola leaves a void, but Austin could even be an upgrade.
I'm not the kind to disagree here.
In between the Rams' 1st round pair, it's a pretty optimal situation. Outside of Alec Ogletree at 21 to the Bengals, I doubt the Rams are in play for anyone in those five picks. Of course, the likely tendency will be to look at the safety board here with every option on the table. Kiper's all over this, but who's his pick for the Rams at 22?
22.) Kenny Vaccaro - S, Texas
The departure of Craig Dahl for San Francisco isn't what I'd call a personnel emergency, but there's not a lot left behind him. Darian Stewart and Rodney McLeod are currently penciled in as the starters, so drafting Vaccaro guarantees you an upgrade at safety in a division where safeties are vital. San Francisco, Seattle and Arizona all can test you deep, and in a couple of cases, you need safeties who can fly up to make plays on QBs who are willing to run.
More and more, I think the latter part of his last sentence is why the Rams would be well served in nabbing a long-term solution at safety early in this draft.
There's a bit of a whackadoo selection at 28 with Houston CB D.J. Hayden heading to the Broncos. I haven't seen him in many 1st rounds, but I've been at about 50% these last two weeks so maybe yall picked up on it where I didn't.
By the end of the 1st, Cordarrelle Patterson, Robert Woods, Jonathan Cyprien, Eddie Lacy, Justin Hunter and Kyle Long are all gone. A lot of fan trains are going to come crashing down in about three weeks and eight hours...
Moving into the 2nd round, Menelik Watson flies off pretty quickly. I think he's one of the names that, if he persists into Friday, could get a lot of overnight talk for the Rams. Another name that could be in the same situation is Kiper's pick for the Rams at 46:
46 (14).) Montee Ball - RB, Wisconsin
Minus Steven Jackson, their depth chart at running back is set with this addition.
Not a fan. Heck, I have Ball 10th on my RB Big Board, so don't expect me to be bringing cake and pie to this party. I get the idea behind finishing out the Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson, draft selection threesome (ew, you're sick). Ball's just not my pick here. Heck, I'm not all that sure why any running back would be anywhere near your BPA selection if you're in the Rams front office in the 2nd round (though you could make a compelling case to me about Giovani Bernard...).
A bit surprising to me was the number of cornerbacks Kiper has in the 2nd. After seeing four corners go in the 1st, he's got another five in the next 30 picks including a run at #51, #53 and #54. And Sweet Swimmy Swamson, if Tyrann Mathieu goes to the Patriots, Boston might just slide into the Atlantic with all the hate (and ESPN interviews) that will be directed towards it.
But this is where we are. Three weeks to go. Be strong...