Lately, I've been thinking of how we could address the offensive side of the ball in the 2014 draft. Our offense was clearly limited for most of the year and, while a portion of that can be attributed to our starting QB getting injured, I think the problem is larger than just that. In analyzing what position would help the most, I looked at each specific group.
QB- The Qb's could certainly use help but Snead and Fisher have stated that they are committed to Bradford. I think the best way to address the QB position would be to look in the middle rounds for a back up with high upside like Tahj Boyd.
RB- Zac Stacy seems to have grabbed hold of the starting running back position and there is not a dire need for back up running backs, as Cunningham, Richardson, and Pead are all competent young running backs with upside. If a talented runner were to slip into the mid-later rounds, I would be okay with using a mid-round pick on such a player.
WR- There is not a truly elite receiver in this group, but there is a lot of potential. Each player has his qualities that indicate he could become special, but he also has the issues that scare us into believing they will never reach their potential. I think selecting an elite receiver like Watkins would benefit this group greatly, allowing Tavon to occupy the slot while Quick, Givens, and Bailey experience real pressure to realize their potential quickly fighting for one spot. I do not think it is early enough to give up on Quick or Givens, but it is time to apply some heat to their seats.
Offensive Line- Their is a clear issue at tackle with Long hurt and the middle of the line is aging rapidly, but I feel these positions (namely guard) can be addressed later in the draft. I have faith Long will come back quickly and I do not feel it would be worth it to add an elite talent at tackle with Long and Barksdale both playing well this year. Resigning Saffold is important for my plan, but I feel a line of Long, Rookie, Jones, Saffold, Barksdale can be successful in the NFL, with most of the line being a young group. While Long is out, Saffold could fill in at left tackle.
TE- Jared Cook was a decent player this year and, no matter which way you look at it, he is going to be here for some time to come. Kendricks and Harkey were both adequate this year, though I feel that has more to do with Schotty's capabilities to utilize TE than their extraordinary abilities. I think Kendricks and Harkey are good players without a lot of unfulfilled potential (though some may disagree), though they are little more than league average in my opinion (PFF feels all three of these TE's were below league average this year). To most effectively use this draft I found that it may be best to attack the TE position head on.
After thinking about it, addressing TE may be the most effective way to enhance our offense. A talented TE can impact the game in both blocking and receiving. Addressing both issues while selecting at a position that Schotty has shown an ability to call plays for effectively would also notably increase our offensive output. The fact that there are a couple standout TE prospects in this draft in my opinion only increases my momentum with this opinion. With this mindset firmly entrenched, I took a shot at building an ideal draft through first-pick.com. This is what I came up with...
Round 1 Pick 13: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina (A) - Ebron is a freakish athlete who can make difficult catches seem simple. He has the ability to become a real mismatch on the field, in a Vernon Davis mold.
Round 1 Pick 26 (CLE): C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama (A) - Acquiring CJ Mosley is still a must in my opinion, especially if he were to fall this far (which I feel he could). He would have a similar impact to Ogletree's 2013 season, though I feel he is more polished and he could be better from the beginning.
Round 1 Pick 27 (N.O.): Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (C+) - It seems silly to pick two TE's so early, but ASJ is a completely different player than Ebron. ASJ is still capable of making big plays in the passing game but he has also been billed as an impressive blocker. I think he is the key to revolutionizing our offense.
Locking up these four players would require a trade with Cleveland, an additional trade down or two, and some luck with these players falling, though I feel it could reasonably happen. Adding these 4 players would transform the Rams into a contender immediately in my opinion. Too many times this year I recall being excited about watching our defense and not interested when our offense took over, especially when Tavon was gone. I think that adding three elite playmakers like Watkins, Ebron, and ASJ to Tavon, Stacy, and the combination of Bailey, Givens, and Quick would immediately transform our O into must watch TV. What's more? The fact that two of the playmakers being added are TE helps ensure that Schotty could take advantage of them. Adding Mosley would turn our LB corps into one of the best in the league, to pair with our incredible line and our young, developing secondary. Obviously o-line and secondary need to be addressed, which will hopefully pan out in the draft.
Round 2 Pick 5 (OAK): David Yankey, OG, Stanford (B+) - I would add him to the four above for must have players. I feel he will become a plug and play guard in the NFL and I think he would fit well with Jones and Saffold in the interior O-line.
Round 3 Pick 13: Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU (A) - Keeping Langford would be a necessity at this point. I am not sure what Johnson will become, but he possesses elite athleticism for his size and could potentially become a dominant DT.
Round 4 Pick 13: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor (A) - A great value in round 4. Ideally, secondary or o-line would be addressed anywhere from rounds 3-7 in this draft, but the value of the players I selected trumped the value of the players in needs available. Adding Seastrunk (and his rumored 4.3ish 40) to change the pace for Stacy could prove terrifying to opponents.
Round 5 Pick 13: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (A) - A talented Qb with upside to add a back up that could grow into a more important role.
Round 6 Pick 13: Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech (A) - Decent player in the secondary, though I would prefer to address this need earlier.
Round 7 Pick 13: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (C+) - Too good to pass on in the 7th.
I would certainly be okay with selecting O-line or secondary help in place of Seastrunk, Boyd, Johnson, and/or Thomas given the player was a value at the selection. Each time I was selecting in these rounds I had trouble finding players on the O-line/secondary that jumped off the page at me, whereas the players I selected did. I love the thought of pairing Yankey with Saffold at the OG spots, as I think both will be great guards in the coming years. I also believe in Barrett Jones. As I have stated before, I believe in McLeod, though I would prefer to draft a S in rounds 3-7 in case I am wrong about him. With all this said, I would be thrilled with this draft. Adding a FA safety/corner would strengthen this hypothetical offseason, but so would altering the picks from round three on. I think many people will come to bat for Kendricks and even (to a lesser degree) Harkey, and while I admit they are solid players, there is not a comparison in my eyes between the two TEs we have and the two we could acquire. Having Cook, Ebron, and ASJ at TE may seem like an overload, though Schotty clearly loves utilizing them and knows how to get them the ball (sorry for being so repetitive). I feel ASJ could occupy the role of a true TE lining up alongside the tackle and taking on some blocking duties. I feel Ebron could be used as a versatile TE/FB hybrid that could line up anywhere (he has shown versatility even this year at UNC, lining up at DE at times when they were undermanned). Cook would be free to play as more of a slot receiver that could also line up alongside the tackle.
Anyway, that is just my latest idea for the draft. Thoughts?