Hello everyone! We are moving closer and closer to the 2014 draft and the excitement is rising! I am going to go through free agency, the draft, and what we have after. Something to note as you read this: in this mock I am trying to do a mix of what I want and what I think the Rams could realistically do. So if Rams media and myself had a draft baby, this would be it.
Scott Wells and Harvey Dahl are no brainers here. Cutting them both frees up about 8 million for the cap. Wells has never lived up to expectations, is up there in age, and is injury prone. Dahl gave St. Louis a few years of some nice blocking but is now also older and injury prone. Bradford himself is injury prone and could use an upgrade in protection. More time to pass and bigger running lanes would also be nice. Pettis however, may be a surprise to some. Pettis is in the last year of his contract and his slaty has almost doubled. Pettis has displayed some nice hands from time to time, but lacks the athleticism to consistently separate himself from the defense and make plays. Pettis has fallen behind Tavon, Givens, Cook, and Bailey in the eyes of Rams fans, and hopefully soon Quick as well. His production can easily be replaced and he has little upside. He is an "incomplete" receiver, which the Rams have had quite a few of these past few years. Time to get Bradford an all around talented guy. The best comparison I've seen for the Pettis situation is that of Quinton Mikell last year. And I think Mikell was even more available.
- Jo-Lonn Dunbar (OLB), Chris Williams (OL), Brady Quinn (QB), Matt Giordano (FS), Darian Stewart (FS), Mike McNeil (TE), Quinton Pointer (CB), Kellen Clemens (QB)
Most of these guys don't require much explanation. Dunbar was just eh, and not worth spending the money on. Williams has been disappointing. Giordano/Stewart do little already and we have some nice safety depth without them. We need to get an upgrade at back-up QB, although I will say I love Clemens and am extremely grateful for how hard he played for us. McNeil is good but there is no room on this train for him.
Smith is nice for depth and after cutting Wells/Dahl we will really need that depth. Barnes can compete with Jones for the center position, with the other providing depth. Keeping Barnes makes sense to me as he did alright, won't cost much, and is familiar with the system. Saffold is our big move in free agency. We currently need two offensive guards, and I'm sure the Rams don't want to spend two early picks on guards. If we can't bring Saffold back we will need to find an alternative guard in free agency, possibly someone like Geoff Schwartz, although I'd rather keep Saffold as he graded out very well at guard, and we know he can swing over to tackle in a pinch.
I'm not going to get into to much financial detail here, but I don't think Rams cut Finnegan. He has a strong connection with Finnegan, would leave us void of any veteran presence in our secondary, and could always bounce back. Maybe he just had a bad year and will come back renewed and improved, especially if we get some better safety help behind him. And with Saffold being our only big signing we will be fine just restructuring him. But most importantly, we don't save much money by cutting him. Cutting him would save us about 4 million, so why not just shave around half that off in a restructure? The only way I see Finnegan leaving is if we think we have a shot to land a big FA in the secondary like Jarius Byrd (FS), TJ Ward (FS), or Alterraun Verner (CB). If we could cut Finnegan and then land one of those three I'd be overjoyed, but I don't think it happens. Also I think we try to shave some money off Bradford's contract as well. Remember, rookie contracts will require cap space as well.
Market Free Agents:
After resigning Saffold and leaving room for our draft picks we won't have a crazy amount of money available, so no big moves made here.
First Round, #2 pick:
- Trade down with Browns (Obtain picks #4, #26).
The Browns make this trade not wanting to give up too much after what happened in the RG3 trade, but are okay with giving up the 26th pick as they will be picking again right away in the 2nd. Also they had FIVE pro bowlers this year, so it isn't like the team is void of talent. Give them Manziel at #2 and the best running back at the top of the second and watch out. I don't think the Browns can afford to "see what QB falls to them later". Time to move up and act.
First Round, #4 pick:
- Sammy Watkins (WR)
Watkins is a stud. He is fast, powerful, attacks the ball, has good size, but most importantly: catches with his hands. There isn't a receiver on the Rams with a resume like that. As I said earlier St. Louis has a knack of getting "incomplete" receivers. Sometimes we get guys that are fast, but they don't catch with their hands or wait for the ball to come to them. Sometimes we get guys that are big but can't get separation. Watkins will flourish, and cause the offense around him to flourish. Finally Bradford will have a real offense and we can see what he can do. Watkins will also draw much attention, giving Stacy, Tavon, Givens, and Cook more breathing room. At this point Rams have THREE first round picks, so why not spend one on a top player that can improve the weakest part of our team: offense. We have a lot of good role players, but we need that all star. He here is. He will be for our offense what Quinn is for our defense. The Greatest Show on Turf had Issac Bruce, yet they still drafted Torry Holt. Since then this has become even more of a pass heavy league. Don't stop at Tavon. Add one more weapon.
First Round, #13 pick:
- Trade down with Cowboys (Obtain picks #17, #81).
Cowboys move up here and nab either Gilbert (CB), Dennard (CB), or Dix (FS) as they believe an improved secondary will finally get them to where they think they should be. We trade down with them for our final significant trade of the draft.
First Round, #17 pick:
- Calvin Pryor (FS)
Pryor keeps rising up draft boards, and will rise even higher after the combine. Fisher will love his hard hitting, and we will love his athleticism that helps him close in on the ball. I worry that Dix will struggle in coverage, and that is exactly what we don't need. A safety with coverage skills has been a nee dog ours for a while now, and I'm sure the cornerbacks would appreciate an upgrade. Pryor's tackling skills will also be needed in the defense we run. Improving the safety position won't only benefit us from a safety aspect, but I think the secondary as a whole will perform better. I expect more from a secondary that has Quinn striking fear into the quarterback all game long.
First Round, #26 pick:
- Zach Martin (OL)
I've been mocking Martin to the Rams in the second and third rounds for a long time, but now others have witnessed his potential and he has risen quite high. There is still a vacant guard spot on the Rams line and Martin fills that, boosting the performances of Bradford and Stacy. Also Martin can swing to OT in a pinch. With how injury prone Saffold and Long are, another lineman with a high pick is a must. We need him even if those two are healthy. We REALLY need him if one of them go down.
2nd Round, #45 pick:
- Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB)
Stanley is a tall dude, but he plays like a smaller corner, not sacrifing athleticism in the wake of his size. Tall cornerbacks are becoming a hot commodity thanks to taller receivers and the success of the Seahawks tall secondary. Finnegan and Jenkins are both on the shorter side, so Stanley brings more size. Regardless of what we do with Finnegan, it would be smart to act on this deep pool of cornerbacks this year. Finnegan is expensive, older, and could never return to his pro-bowl form so it'd be smart to have a back-up plan in a pass happy league. I like Jenkins and Johnson but I don't know if they are a starting duo I'd be confident with, and you need three good corners these days anyway. Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby, and Pierre Desir are also intriguing options that could fall to Rams on Day 2.
3rd Round, #77 pick:
- Billy Turner (OL)
Rams need offensive line depth. With Wells and Dahl gone, and Martin starting, the only proven depth we would have is Smith. And once again our offensive line is made of glass. I've seen Turner being mocked to Rams in the third and fourth rounds and I'm jumping on board. A small school guy that is rising up boards.
3rd Round: #81 pick:
- Jimmy Garoppolo (QB)
Jimmy is another guy I've been mocking to the Rams for a while, but his stock has rose. Obviously Bradford has not shown that he is a sure thing and is also injury prone, so a back-up QB would be a great idea. And if we are going to take one I'd prefer to take one that actually has a chance to be something special. I do believe this year is Bradford's "Make or Break" year. It is the final year of his contract, another injury would make it time to move on, and he will have a talented enough offense around him to perform. So Jimmy will either learn under Sam or have a shot to be his successor next year. But no matter what, if we are serious about a playoff run, we need someone who can win games if Sam goes down. We could resign Clemens, but we should still draft Jimmy. Clemens can only play for so much longer.
4th Round, #109 pick:
- Anthony Johnson (DT)
Johnson was pegged last year as a 2014 first round pick. After an off year he has dropped off. Normally he wouldn't fall so far, but there is plenty of DT depth in this draft. We still have Langford and filled a lot of holes with previous picks, so I think we can take a chance on a pick like this. Johnson can rotate with Langford giving us much needed DT depth, and maybe can develop into a starter next year replacing Langford's average play and hefty contract.
5th Round, #141 pick:
- Prince Shembo (OLB)
Rams move on from Dunbar and Witherspoon, so they could really use some help at linebacker. Shembo could go a little higher, but off field issues will drop him some. Shembo will compete with Armstrong for the 3rd linebacker spot, and the other will provide needed depth. And he has an amazing face mask.
6th Round, #173 pick:
- Colt Lyeria (TE)
Another "problem" pick, but Rams can afford it thanks to a high number of draft picks. Lyeria was rated by many as the top tight end of the 2014 class until he dropped out of school and got busted with drugs. Lyeria could be one of those players who realizes that after leaving school and running into legal trouble he needs to get his head on straight. He may know NFL can be his ticket to success. A lot of Rams fans were disappointed in Cook, and if he doesn't improve Lyeria could be the guy we were looking for. Normally a player with that kind of trouble would drop to undrafted free agency, but his skill will keep him in the draft. He won't make it through the 7th round. Low risk, high reward.
7th Round, #205 pick:
- Cornelius Lucas (OT)
Once again Rams need offensive line depth. At this point Smith and Turner compose our offensive line depth so we pick a VERY big lineman here to try to develop.
7th Round, #218 pick:
- Beau Allen (DT)
Rams take a defensive tackle here to compete with Johnson and Cudjo for the third DT spot, and maybe provide needed depth at the position. I believe we have the Colts 7th rounder via the Josh Gordy trade.
Undrafted Free Agency:
- Keith Price (QB)
I would like to add another young QB to compete with Jimmy. I like Price, and would maybe even draft him with a 7th round pick. Also during UDFA we should place emphasis on linebackers and lineman for undrafted free agents.
Recap of Draft:
1A: S Watkins (WR)
1B: C Pryor (FS)
1C: Z Martin (OL)
2: S Jean-Baptiste (CB)
3A: B Turner (OT)
3B: J Garoppolo (QB)
4: A Johnson (DT)
5: P Shembo (OLB)
6: C Lyeria (TE)
7A: C Lucas (OT)
7B: B Allen (DT)
UDFA: K Price (QB)
QB: Bradford, Garoppolo, Price
RB: Stacy, Cunningham, Richardson, Pead
TE: Cook, Kendricks, Harkey, Lyeria
WR: Watkins, Austin, Givens, Bailey, Quick
OT: Long, Barksdale, Turner, Lucas
OG: Saffold, Martin, Smith
C: Jones, Barnes
DT: Brockers, Langford, Johnson, Cudjo
DE: Quinn, Long, Hayes, Sims
MLB: Laurinaitus, Bates
OLB: Ogletree, Armstrong, Shembo
CB: Jenkins, Finnegan, Baptiste, Johnson, McGee
FS: Pryor, McCloud
SS: McDonald, Daniels, Davis
Way Too Early Season Prediction:
Arizona Cardinals: Win, San Fransisco 49er's: Win, Seattle Seahawks: Loss, Philadelphia Eagles: Loss, Washington Redskins: Win, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Win, Kanas City Chiefs: Loss, San Diego Chargers: Win.
Final Record: 10-6 (Playoff Wildcard)
I don't know about you but I'm excited. Snead and Fisher have been making great decisions, we have tons of young talent, and the NFC West is turning us into one tough contender. Hopefully you enjoyed my articles and Rams take the final step to launch us into playoffs.
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