What are the Rams really looking for in this year's draft?
I know what a lot of fans are looking for - #1 WR, New QB, New OT
But what is Snisher looking to do?
From looking at our roster, and listening to the stories that the brass are selling, it appears that we're looking to improve in two areas: Up front protection on offense, and back end protection on defense. We could also use improved depth at a lot of other positions. Let's make a couple of hypothetical roster moves before the draft, and then dive in to mocking.
Unpopular players to be kept:
Cortland Finnegan, CB - Yes, Finnegan had a bad, bad year. However, just a year ago, he had a great year! I don't think there's any real chance that we part ways with Finnegan this offseason.
Kendall Langford, DT - Langford is definitely unappreciated here in St. Louis. He doesn't put up flashy stats, but he does his job. Our defensive line is a unit that currently works together very efficiently. I think that continuity will serve this team better than bringing in someone expected to start right away.
Austin Pettis, WR - I know, he has the lowest ceiling of any of our receivers... However, isn't he also the most reliable one? Pettis has played well in the red zone, and well on fourth down in each of the past two seasons... It really surprised me in 2012 how often Sam Bradford targeted Pettis when the game was on the line, and how many times Pettis came through. No, he isn't a #1 receiver... No, he isn't a 1000-yd receiver. but he IS a guy who caught 60.3% of his targets (2nd among Rams receivers behind Bailey). He has also scored four touchdowns each of the past two seasons.
Popular player to be kept:
Rodger Saffold, OL - His versatility makes him incredibly valuable... He's shown his massive potential at guard, and was already an adequate tackle. Locking him up in the long term allows us to cut ties with Dahl.
Alright, draft time.
Round 1, Pick 2: TRADE with Atlanta for 1:6, 2015 1, and 3:68
My thoughts are that the Texans are gonna end up passing on Clowney and going with a QB. While we could take Clowney and have the scariest combination of 3 DEs ever seen, we likely trade back to secure future picks. While the Falcons aren't as desperate as the Redskins were a few years ago, They could still give up a future 1 to secure the best pass rushing prospect in a very long time, especially after the success they had with a similar trade to grab Julio Jones.
Round 1, Pick 6: TRADE with New York Giants for 1:12 and 2:43
Assuming that 3 QBs go in the top 5, either Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson will be available - if not both of them. The Giants desperately need to improve their OL so that Eli doesn't continue to throw a ton of picks. This is similar to the trade two years ago where we went from 6 - 13 by trading with the Cowboys.
Round 1, Pick 12: HaHa Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
We absolutely have to do a better job defending the pass with our safeties. With a pass rush as good as ours, there's no way that we should struggle defending the pass. Talent needs to be brought in to the safety position, and HaHa is very talented.
Round 1, Pick 13: TRADE with Dallas Cowboys for 1:16 and 4:115
My thoughts here are that Dallas wants to jump in front of Chicago to have their choice of a DT - Whether that be Hageman, Nix, or Donald.
Round 1, Pick 16: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Zack Martin's stock is on the rise, and while I'm not sure how early he'll go, this doesn't seem like too bad of a spot to grab him. We select Martin over other potential first rounders like Lewan due to his versatility. Jeff Fisher loves versatile linemen, and while he generally doesn't spend early round picks on them, our LG spot must absolutely be improved.
Round 2, Pick 43 (from Giants): Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Van Noy is a creator of splash plays. While he might be a better fit in a 3-4, he has high potential in a Von Miller type role. Van Noy would provide another dynamic pass rusher to an area which is already a strength of our team.
Round 2, Pick 44: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The other popular player from the Senior Bowl, Donald has great potential at the NFL. However, he's currently a bit of a lightweight, and is therefore more of a situational interior pass-rusher at this point in his career. That's absolutely what we need, considering the dynamic pass rushers on the outside that we already have. He comes in to a perfect situation in STL, where he isn't relied upon to start right away, but can do his thing early in his career and be the successor to Langford in the future.
Round 3, Pick 68: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
A man who is becoming a local favorite, Pierre Desir has exactly what we're looking for in a CB. He has a similar skill set and build of Trumaine Johnson, and has also played at a similar level of competition. He's a high upside guy who will need a few years to adjust to the NFL before he's ready to be relied upon. This gives Finnegan the opportunity to play out the rest of his prime.
Round 3, Pick 75: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Sam Bradford is the man. There, I said it. Watching Sam's 2010-2012 tape completely restored my confidence in Sam as "our guy". That being said, Garoppolo is an excellent developmental project. He has all the tools to potentially be a starter at the NFL down the line, but is in no way ready to be one right now. We pick him for the same reason that Washington picked Kirk Cousins - starting-level talent in case our starter struggles with injuries.
Round 4, PIck 106: Andrew Norwell, OL, Ohio State
Norwell is another versatile lineman that will provide depth to a growing unit. He's played LT, LG, and RT in his tenure at Ohio State.
Round 4, Pick 115: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
While Quinn is phenomenal and Long and Hayes are great, you can never have too many pass rushers. Lynch potentially has the most upside of any available pass rushers at this point in the draft.
Round 5, Pick 150: Mason Walters, OG, Texas
We could potentially have a lot of turnover on the offensive line this season, and Walters could be another nice depth piece to that puzzle. He's a powerful man, and perhaps a similar prospect to Rok Watkins a couple of years ago.
Round 6, Pick 181: Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
We go after some secondary depth by picking up a former teammate of Zac Stacy. Ladler's resume looks like one that Jeff Fisher will like.
Round 7, Pick 211: Cody Riggs, DB, Florida
This year, our last pick isn't a running back, but another piece of depth and hopefully a special teams contributor.
So to recap
1:12-HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
1:16-Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
2:43-Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
2:44-Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
3:68-Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
3:75-Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
4:106-Andrew Norwell, OL, Ohio State
4:115-Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
5:150-Mason Walters, OL, Texas
6:181-Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
7:211-Cody Riggs, DB, Florida
As always, comments/criticisms are appreciated.