St. Louis Rams 7-Round Mock Draft: Ten Picks Courtesy of a Falcons Trade-Up

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams have two first round picks in May’s NFL Draft. In a trade draft day trade with the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams wind up with ten picks in 2014. How should they use them?

Before we dive right into the picks, I want to revert back to my January Rams’ mock draft, and point out how the past two months have changed the direction the team should go on draft day.  For those who prefer not to click, the Rams traded back to sixth overall [acquiring an additional 1st round pick in 2015], and the Falcons moved up to grab their guy, Jadeveon Clowney.  Here’s how the Rams faired through the first three rounds in early January:

* 1.06 - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
* 1.13 - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
* 2.05 - Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
* 2.12 - Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi St.
* 3.11 - Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

…all offense.  The huge focus on offensive line was predicated on the Rams losing both of their starting guards [which they didn’t], and needing depth at backup offensive tackle if they lost both Chris Williams and Rodger Saffold to free agency [which they didn’t].  Watkins was a no-brainer at 1.06, and the Rams needed to draft a backup QB in the mid rounds of the draft…which, I believe, they still do.

Fast forward to mid-March.  The free agency period is well under way, and some of the expected [along with some not-so-expected] offseason moves call for a fresh analysis of the team’s needs.

Below you’ll see the new 7-round Rams mock, still based upon the Falcons moving up to No. 2 overall.  The manner in which the Rams should address the needs of their team have clearly changed over the past two and a half months.  But before we put the Rams on the clock at No. 6…

Pick 1.01 - Houston Texans select:  Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Pick 1.02 - Atlanta Falcons select:  Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Pick 1.03 - Jacksonville Jaguars select:  Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Pick 1.04 - Cleveland Browns select:  Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Pick 1.05 - Oakland Raiders select:  Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Pick 1.06 - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

6’1"/ 201 lbs.
A Scouting Report from The Sideline View, &
The Prospect Playbook from TST’s 3k

I think it’s risky business trading back to No. 6, because of the possibility of a team like the Raiders to snag Watkins at No. 5.  The odds, though, are slim.  It’s more likely three QB’s are drafted inside the top 5, with Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, and Khalil Mack all being possibilities for those teams.

With the Rams retaining Rodger Saffold, there’s much less pressure to take an offensive lineman with their first pick; and certainly not an offensive tackle. Watkins possesses the vertical ability and ball skills the Rams desperately need in their aerial attack.

The Rams get an immediate impact player on offense, and as a result of a well-advised trade down, will be able to add another blue chip player early in the second round…

Rob Rang Player Comparison [CBS Sports]:

Mix of Torrey Smith (Ravens) and Percy Harvin (Seahawks) - Watkins has the size and vertical ability of Smith and the acceleration, toughness and multiple gears like Harvin.

Pick 1.13 - Haha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

6’1"/ 208 lbs.
A Scouting Report from The Sideline View

The Rams weren’t able [or maybe weren’t interested] in making a splash in free agency by signing a top tier free safety like Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward.  While stout defensively, they struggled to prevent big pass plays in 2013, making free safety [arguably] the biggest need on the entire roster.

The Rams pass rush has been stellar over the past two seasons.  The secondary has been it’s weak link.  Pairing Haha Clinton-Dix - this year’s top safety - with T.J. McDonald gives the Rams a dynamic pair of safeties for the foreseeable future.

Rob Rang Player Comparison [CBS Sports]:

Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks - Few free safeties possess Thomas' blend of agility, closing speed and ball-skills. Should Clinton-Dix continue to improve, he could soon join Thomas as a Pro Bowler.

Pick 2.05 [37] - Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA

6’4"/ 307 lbs.
A Scouting Report from The Sideline View

Rodger Saffold tested free agency, and for a moment was [or thought he was] an offensive tackle for the Raiders.  After failing a physical, he immediately returned to the Rams, and signed a five-year deal.  He’ll now [gladly, or so he says] be playing right guard.  If healthy, Saffold has not only proven to be a viable replacement, but more so an upgrade for now free-agent Harvey Dahl.

Left guard, however, is [and has been] a question mark.  Shelley Smith performed admirably in 2013, but recently signed with the Dolphins.   Su’a Filo is the best guard in the draft, and would provide the Rams with the third top-ranked player [at their respective position] in the draft.


Pick 2.12 [47] - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

5’11"/ 194 lbs.
A Scouting Report from the Sideline View

It’s evident - given the exodus of veteran CB Cortland Finnegan - the Rams will need to patch up their secondary.  As it stands, you can pencil in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson as the Rams’ starters. Rams’ COO Kevin Demoff even alluded to it in a recent radio interview [approx. 3:15 seconds in].

I tend to agree that the Rams should not use a first round pick on a player who would primarily be utilized in nickel formations, but Roby, once drafted, has the athleticism, skills, and smarts to immediately vie for the starting gig.

Pick 3.11 [75] - Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU

6’2"/ 308 lbs.
Strengths/Weaknesses/Overview from CBS Sports

While Michael Brockers has firmly staked his claim as the team’s right defensive tackle, there are far more questions surrounding the production - and depth - at the left DT position.  Kendall Langford hasn’t been overly impressive in his short tenure with the team, and Jermelle Cudjo and Matt Conrath aren’t viable starting options.

Anthony Johnson has the speed/quickness to bolster an already tremendous pass rush for the Rams.  He’s also displayed the ability to efficiently thwart the opponents rushing attack.  Langford will cost $6mil against the cap in 2014, and $7mil in 2015.  It’s about time they found a more productive, cost-effective player to fill the LDT position.

Pick 4.10 [106] - A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

6’4"/ 210 lbs.
A Scouting Report from The Sideline View

The Rams need a backup quarterback, and they need one who can step in and compete.  Kellen Clemens is headed to San Diego, and Austin Davis isn’t [and never was] an option.  The 2014 NFL season showed us that a quality backup QB can take control of a game and lead the team to victory.  McCarron is a proven commodity at the college level and - if not asked to air it out for the duration of the game - can make big throws necessary to lead the team to victory.

If Sam Bradford were to sustain another injury, whether it be 4 or 12 games into the year, the focus shouldn’t immediately turn to next season.  Feel much better about the Rams’ chances - in those circumstances - if they draft A.J. McCarron in May.

Pick 5.13 [141] - Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami

6’7"/ 331 lbs.
A Scouting Report from The Sideline View

If I was going to make a risky pick as the Rams’ GM, I’d do so right about here.  Henderson is freakish in stature, but certainly comes with his fair share of off-field concerns.  Jeff Fisher and Co. haven’t shied away from taking players of questionable character in the past, and selecting Seantrel will certainly come with a heightened level of risk.  If the coaching staff are able to keep him on the straight and narrow, the team will reap the rewards.

Make no mistake, Henderson isn’t being drafted in the 5th round to potentially replace Jake Long.  He - along with his 84" wingspan - is a developmental talent, who the Rams would be wise to play on the right side.  Massive, and very athletic, Seantrel would benefit greatly under the tutelage of Paul Boudreau.

My thoughts on not going after a left tackle in 2014:  If the Rams are looking for their future LT, 2014 isn't the year to do so.  Jake Long is under contract until 2016.  If they need to find him a viable replacement, they’ve now got two picks in the first round of 2015 [based on this trade] to do so.

The "Bottom Line" from Nolan Nawrocki [NFL.com]:
Massive, strong-bodied, long-armed specimen with the physical gifts to be a dominant NFL right tackle in a power or slide-protection blocking scheme. However, he failed to live up to expectations in Coral Cables thanks to a tumultuous career marred by tragedy, suspensions, injuries and benchings. High-risk, high-reward, high-maintenance wild card who must convince decision-makers he’s worth gambling on. Interview process will go a long way in determining his trustworthiness.

Pick 6.12 [172] - De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

5’9"/ 174 lbs.
A Scouting Report from SB Nation’s Mocking the Draft

The Rams don’t "need" a running back…or do they?  In 2013, Zac Stacy became the late-round gem the team hoped he would, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards in a very impressive, 14-game rookie campaign.  It’s possible - had he been given the nod as a starter in Week 1 - that Stacy could’ve been in serious contention for Rookie of the Year honors.

Regardless, there’s not much to hold onto beyond Stacy.  Daryl Richardson impressed in 2012.  A 7th-round gem himself, D-Rich filled in admirably while veteran RB Steven Jackson grabbed a breather.  But thigh and foot injuries limited the second year pro to eight games last year.  Isaiah Pead, the 50th overall selection in the 2012 draft…well…isn’t the answer.  He’s played in 25 games and tallied 75 rushing yards.

De’Anthony Thomas would be a nice compliment to Stacy.  He’d help create a "thunder and lighting" or "smash and dash" kind of tandem.  The Eagles are fielding LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles in 2014. The Rams [would] have Tavon Austin and De’Anthony Thomas.  I see you Chip Kelly...



Pick 7.11 [203] - Kasim Edebali, DE/OLB, Boston College

6’2"/ 248 lbs.

Just because the pass rush is the Rams’ strong suit on defense doesn’t mean the team should avoid adding potential play-makers in the draft.  A low-profile DE from Boston College, Edebali has the skills to bolster an already dominant pass rush.  Bleacher Reports’ lead College Football writer, Michael Felder, has Edebali ranked as the nation’s 11th best 4-3 pass rusher.



Pick 7.26 [218] - Shaquelle Evans, WR, UCLA

6’0"/ 210 lbs.
A Scouting Report from The Sideline View

There are only two receivers on the Rams’ roster who should be considered "safe" as it pertains to solidifying a roster spot, and both of them were drafted in 2013.  Outside of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey [and the newly drafted Sammy Watkins], the remainder of the team’s receiving corps has yet to decisively earn a starting spot.  Chris Givens had a stellar rookie season in 2012, tallying 698 yards and completing five consecutive games with a 50+ yard reception.  He regressed in nearly every statistical category in 2013.  Brian Quick, the 33rd overall selection from 2012, has only 458 receiving yards in two seasons of play.
Evans emerged as Hundley's go-to target last year, leading the team with 60 receptions for 877 yards and three scores. Evans is a big-bodied receiver with deceptive build-up speed and maneuverability - Rob Rang, CBS Sports
*****

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