Mock drafts tend to get a little stale. We've already had a long list of them matching Jake Matthews with the St. Louis Rams' second overall pick ... and it's not even the middle of January. But this one looks a little different, the most recent mock from Matthew Fairburn at SB Nation's Mocking the Draft.
Let's jump right in.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) - Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina: The St. Louis Rams are in a curious spot. They didn't play themselves into this pick, so they don't have too many glaring needs that fit the positional value of this pick. Quarterback is a sore spot for St. Louis, but the Rams haven't yet given any indication that Sam Bradford's time is up. Until they do, this pick is complicated.
St. Louis shelled out a lot of money for Jake Long last offseason, but he went down with an injury at the end of the year. Joe Barksdale also played well at times in 2013. Is offensive tackle really a big enough need to justify passing up on a once-in-a-generation pass rusher? Robert Quinn and Chris Long are both outstanding ends for St. Louis, and the interior of the defensive line is in good shape. But Jadeveon Clowney is so versatile that it's tough for any team to argue it doesn't "need" him. This is a best-player-available selection.
In baseball, the old saw goes that you can never have enough good pitching. It's kind of the same thing with pass rushers in the NFL. Sure, the Rams have Robert Quinn and Chris Long, one of the best one-two punches in the league. Adding one of the best pure pass rushers to the mix, even as a situation player in his rookie season, certainly wouldn't hurt the Rams chances.
And then there's the business side of this. Robert Quinn is under contract through 2015 (which is a team option year). His cap number is a paltry $3 million next year, and he's eligible for a contract extension now, having played three years on his rookie deal. Re-upping a guy capable of 19 sacks a season and a potential DPOY award isn't going to be cheap, especially when you consider that the Rams already have a hefty commitment to Chris Long.
Long has a $14.9 million cap hit in 2014. His deal carries a hefty cap hit in 2015 and 2016 too ($11.5 million & $13.25 million), but it's structured so as not to leave the Rams with much dead space should they decide to move on after next season. An extension for Quinn and a rookie deal for Clowney would leave the Rams with flexibility for other needs come 2015.
13. St. Louis Rams - Xavier Su'a-Filo, Guard, UCLA: Much has been made about the Rams' offensive line. While many are dead set on offensive tackle help for St. Louis, it's the interior of the offensive line that may need work after free agency hits. Depending on who the Rams let walk, the front office may have to completely revamp the interior of the offensive line. UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo has the type of movement skills to climb boards throughout the pre-draft process. His versatility will be welcome in St. Louis, where injuries seem to be a given on the offensive line.
Ah ha, there's no denying the need here, and investing a first-round pick in a guard isn't as rare as it used to be. Snead's recent comments about developing offensive linemen make this pick look like a stretch, but the Rams will definitely need help at guard considering almost all their guards from 2013 are free agents.
Alabama safety Clinton-Dix gets picked at No. 11 in this mock. He'd be a great fit for the Rams. Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, another favorite of Rams mock drafters, goes 10th in this one. Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans are still on the board in this mock, and both could be smart picks for the Rams.