The 2014 draft is, understandably, an exciting one for Ram fans. It is also hard to determine exactly how it will play out. Mock drafts currently see many different projections for how the Rams will choose to use its 2 first round picks, keeping fans in the dark over how it will unfold, and leaving lingering questions: will we take Clowney? Is Jake Matthews the pick at number two? How about the fact that the current management don't take Linemen in the first round? Will we trade back? Is Sammy Watkins worth the hype, and is Wide Receiver even a position of need? We are left with uncertainty and ambiguity over events which will occur in May, and perhaps rightly so, as this is only mid-January!
This Mock Draft will not answer any of these questions. It will surprise many of you who read it, and some may discard it as unrealistic, or flat out insane. However, having been captivated, frustrated, and frankly confused at how the Rams may approach the draft, this is a conclusion I have made (which, of course, could be different as soon as tomorrow); there are no players at a position of 'need' at the top end of the first round who justify selection at the expense of neglecting the 'need' of quantity, ie. collecting quality (though perhaps not elite) players to fill an abundance of holes the team currently has. These holes are nothing to be frustrated by, but expected. Just two years ago this was a 2-14 team. Yes we can look at the Colts and Chiefs and see their incredible turn arounds and argue that we are only one player away from similar fortunes, but in reality, this has been a franchise and team plagued by mediocrity for years. It required a complete overhaul, something no coach could have been expected to do over the space of just two years. This is, again, not a pessimistic, morbid observation, rather a calculated reflection of where the team has been, and where it is heading. We are heading in the right direction. 2013 may not have been a 'breakout' year, but it allowed for more time on a field for young players to develop, learn, and improve, both as individuals and collectively. This is a team only a few upgrades away from becoming contenders, although being in the NFC West complicates what this in fact means. The point is that we must continue to add talent across the board. Such is the nature of the transition from college to the NFL, some players don't cut it. They become 'busts'. The recent trend of this front office has been to stockpile picks and players rather than placing all hopes on one talent, and it is working. Just look at the situation in Washington, yes RGIII could have been an instant success, catapulting the Redskins to a Superbowl, but look at the holes in their roster they now left with.
Having observed the depth at this draft, and the lack of suitable high picks that fit glaring needs for the Rams, It is clear to me that Snead and Fisher will continue their trend of trading back, and obtaining more picks. This method has proven to be successful, and is certainly sending the Rams in the right direction. With all that out of the way, here is my current mock draft. It only accounts for rounds 1 and 2, yet still involves 6 picks. It goes under the assumption that we will bring in one Free Agent (a safety, whether Byrd, Ward, or someone else), and will resign Roger Saffold (as well as others, but none worthy of mention in this post).
The #2 pick is a luxury for us to have, but is realistically going to be traded. The trades that I am about to reveal will, in my opinion, show the true value of the pick. We trade the pick with Atlanta, receiving their #6, #38, and 2015 1st rounder. From here, we could almost certainly grab one of Sammy Watkins or Jake Matthews, as many drafts have us doing. However, there is more value to be had by trading back further. We trade the #6 back to #12 in a trade with the Giants, who give us their #44 and 5th rounder (which I won't dwell on). We continue to deal, trading the #13 we own back with the Jets, who don't want to miss out on an elite receiver. We collect their #50 and, of course, #18. This scenario leaves us with 12 and 18 in the first, as well as 4 picks in the 2nd round, none later than the 18th pick. 6 selections in the top 50 is a fantastic way to continue to rebuild our roster. So, without further ado, my selections at these spots. This takes into account that we have need (or at least could be improved) at RB, CB, DT, OLB, WR, and OG. The selections may seem strange in some cases, but takes the best players available at those times of picking, rather than being ordered by the most important positions.
#12 - Ra'Shade Hageman, DT
#18 - Justin Gilbert, CB (Darquez Dennard)
#38 - Cyril Richardson, G (David Yankey)
#44 - Tre Mason, RB
#45 - Jordan Matthews, WR (Davante Adams, Allen Robinson)
#50 - Kyle Van Noy, OLB
Note: Players in brackets are alternatives who could be available and preferred by the front office.
Let me know what you think in the comments, whether it be in regards to my rationale or picks. Either way this is my first (hopefully of many) posts on TST, so be nice, and have a great week Rams fans!