Who will the St. Louis Rams be drafting this year? There's got to be some player that catches their eye, a college prospect that lands on the top of the draft board sometime between now and May 8. Or maybe there isn't.
GM Les Snead has been making the rounds since the season's end, talking about the state of the roster, the year ahead and, of course, the draft. He says the Rams are willing to trade the pick, but he's also smart enough to know that might not happen. And the Rams will be prepared to use the second pick on ...
Well, we're not really sure who or what kind of player the Rams would use the pick for, because Snead's also done a pretty good job of shooting down pretty much every possibility available.
Snead's made the rounds assuring the world that Sam Bradford is their guy. However, he has been open about looking for a backup to develop later in the draft.
They expect Jake Long to be ready for Week 1. The GM also made a pretty telling statement in that half hour interview he did with 101 ESPN, talking about offensive linemen as a position they like to develop, citing players coming "out of nowhere." There are some obvious choices -- like Jake Matthews -- at tackle, but this draft isn't as heavy on guards as last year's was, first-round guards at least.
Pass rusher, i.e. Jadeveon Clowney
Snead waved off Clowney in that same 101 interview, though he did kind of dance around it too, acknowledging the South Carolina product's talent.
The Rams have a young group of pass catchers that most think needs to be augmented with a so-called "true No. 1" receiver. But the GM sees it differently. Snead points to the current group as the team's young core at the position, saying that they need time to grow together. None of the receivers on the roster are due for free agency this year. He doesn't sound opposed to looking for another in the draft, but he also sounds pretty committed to Brian Quick as the kind of player draftnicks are linking to the Rams this year.
So QB, WR, DE, and OT have all been waved off in one way or another by the GM. That's notable because those are the positions that are heavily represented in the top 10 picks of this year's draft. So what's left?
Outside linebacker - Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr are two of the better players in this year's draft. Both will appeal to 3-4 teams as pass rushers, even though they could play strongside backer in the 4-3. However, the Rams drafted an OLB in the first round last year, Alec Ogletree, and they have a ton of money tied up in James Laurinaitis. Another outside backer when you could also find one later in the draft or even a plug-and-play veteran in free agency? Seems like a stretch for the No. 2 pick.
Safety - An obvious need with an obvious target in the draft: HaHa Clinton-Dix, but he's not the second overall pick.
Cornerback - Yes, this is definitely a need, but the Rams kind of have their starters in Jenkins and Johnson. Besides, there aren't really any corners pegged in the top 15 this year.
Other positions that you can easily eliminate from first round consideration: TE, MLB, K, P, RB.
Ok, so that pretty much leaves the Rams with nothing to draft in the first round. Who knew a 7-9 team could be so complete! Unless ...
Wait, you don't think Snead's intentionally not giving any clear indiction about which players or what positions he'd like to target do you? No, of course he is not.
Remember, with Texans owner Bob McNair or GM Rick Smith posit openly about Clowney, it's a draft smoke screen. When Les Snead says these things publicly, we can take it as iron clad truth with not an hint of gray area. So there you have it, the Rams are obviously planning to draft nobody in the first round ... which is still a better strategy than letting Tony Softli help make the picks.
Unless, no ... you don't think ... Snead couldn't be ...