FanPost

Leaving My 'Mock' On Draft Season

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via media.naplesnews.com

"Hey, Sammy! Are you really good enough to go number two overall to the Rams? You look taller on TV!"

*cues up Aloe Blacc*

~I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the maaaaaan~

Let me start this off by saying that this draft is one of unreal depth; one that could and SHOULD produce starters for the Rams in rounds one through four at the least and no matter which way you look at it, we are going to be a much better, much deeper team by the time May 11th rolls around. The problem is, as a fan base, we are torn over which direction we should go in with that very first pick, altering our perceptions of how the rest of the draft should fill out. Now, it’ll be hard to convince or change anybody’s mind about choosing between trading down and staying put, between drafting offensive linemen and wide receivers, or between drafting John Manziel and an actual football player, but that’s not what this is about. At the very least, I’d just like to share with you all a mock draft that best drafts for talent-meeting-need, IMO (as my draftnik folk would say), because I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything in life outside of the draft.

I’m going to Kiper up and become the Rams mock draft specialist that they never knew they needed. I’m reading mock drafts, doing mock drafts, and hating on every mock draft that includes the Rams taking an Offensive Lineman in the first round. I’m doing everything it takes..to bring you an unexciting, uninventive, uneventful draft..because I don’t want the Rams to shock people or get cute. I want the Rams to win some mother lovin’ football games. So enough with the pleasantries and bullshit. Let's let the mock run amok.

2.

SAMMY WATKINS, WR Clemson

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Conceivable Alternatives:

  • Greg Robinson
  • Jake Matthews
  • Jadeveon Clowney

Stretch:

  • Khalil Mack
  • Mike Evans
  • Taylor Lewan

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

At two, I chose to go wide receiver over offensive lineman because frankly, I think Sammy Watkins fulfills a need at a position we still desperately have to upgrade. I’m not sold on Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, or Kenny Britt for that matter. If you aren’t sold on them, then what do you have? All of the receivers named above are at or below league average and are more of a liability now and in the future than any other position, not necessarily based on ceiling, but unrealized talent (I know, I can’t ignore injury history on the line, but I like Long at LT and screw you. Prove to me they’ll get hurt again!).

I want to look past the "spot" the Rams are picking at and start looking at who I want more than anyone else in the draft. That guy is Sammy Watkins, an electric playmaker who plays with power, true game speed, acceleration, and has the ability to make the tough catches in tough situations. If you have never seen this kid catch, he can start with his back to the field at a stand still, turn around on a dime, accelerate, and weave through traffic better than any receiver I’ve watched tape on at his size. His body control, field vision, and hands all scream FOOTBALL PLAYER, not just athlete. This isn’t a gadget player. This isn’t a piece. This is the whole damn offense. The Browns, Raiders, Buccaneers, and others are salivating to have Watkins slip past two. He doesn’t in my draft.

WHY NOT GREG ROBINSON/JAKE MATTHEWS?

Look, I love Greg Robinson, but I also love Morgan Moses. I love Taylor Lewan. I love Zach Martin. I mean, there is some seriously deep O-Line talent in the first and second rounds. I know Wide Receiver is deep, but there are other things about Greg Robinson’s game that are question marks. No one knows about his pass protection. He just burst onto the scene as a top prospect, meaning there is a lot to his game that still needs to be uncovered. Yes, he’s a mauler and moves the line, but he is a raw prospect and I just don’t know if he’ll end up being a LT. In Auburn’s offense, he was able to be in constant forward motion, but we have yet to see if he can sit back in pass protection and let the defense come to him. Also, Coach Boo has gotten the most out of everything he’s been given. If we spend a 2nd rounder on a Guard or Offensive Tackle, we could see that player come in and produce as good as any of these top players. I mean seriously, this draft is ridiculously deep on O-Line talent. We will pick up a great starter later in the first or in the second.

13.
HA'SEAN CLINTON-DIX, FS Alabama

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Conceivable:

  • Mike Evans
  • Taylor Lewan
  • Calvin Pryor
  • Justin Gilbert
  • Darquez Dennard

Stretch:

  • Jimmy Ward
  • Xavier Su’a Filo
  • Morgan Moses

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah..YAWWWWNNNNNNN. That’s how I feel, too. Then I remember that this is a true ball-hawking free safety who we’d be lucky to have available here at 13. This is our BIGGEST need, in my opinion. We have some Offensive linemen that can put in work; Joe Barksdale, Rodger Saffold, Jake Long. We have nothing on the back end of our defense outside of TJ McDonald. We got attacked time and time again at the safety spot and we had no answer. If our corners got too aggressive and got beat, it would be a free trip to the end zone. That is a big reason for our corners playing 25 yards off of their assignment (Hyperbole? I’m not so sure sometimes). It was porous, it was hard to watch, and it effected the rest of our defense negatively. We not only need to draft a free safety, we need to go back to it later in the draft and grab some more guys for depth.

WHY FREE SAFETY? WHY NOT TACKLE?

This is a bit of a different situation than Sammy Watkins and the 2nd pick. I had a hard time deciding on whether to draft Taylor Lewan here, or even Justin Gilbert. At the end of the day, I just do not think that Taylor Lewan will last to 13 and even if he did, the drop off between Clinton-Dix and the next "FREE" Safety that we will be able to draft is going to be greater than most people think. There are 31 picks between our 2nd and 3rd picks. I can guarantee that Jimmie Ward will be long gone by that 44th overall pick and Terrance Brooks seems to be climbing as well. He’ll most definitely be gone by our 3rd round pick. This is also an opportunity to let you all know that I would MUCH rather draft Guard higher than Tackle, and because this is my mock, I am inclined to do just that.

44.

GABE JACKSON, OG Miss St.

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Conceivable:

  • Xavier Su’a-Filo
  • David Yankey
  • Jason Verrett
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Jimmie Ward

Stretch:

  • Terrance Brooks
  • Donte Moncrief
  • Ra’shede Hageman
  • Dominique Easley

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

This is where it gets tricky. This is a pick that could go in a number of different directions depending on what you have done with the first two picks of your draft. In this draft, your day two picks (especially on a .500 team) should be contending for a starting spot from day one and it’s no secret that our single biggest question mark is at left guard. We lost two guards in the offseason that received time in our starting rotation after they both received sizable contracts elsewhere for being merely serviceable with the Rams. Well, they’re another team’s problem now and our problem is finding a Guard. I would love to see Xavier Su’a-Filo fall to 44 but I’m not counting on it. This isn’t me mocking an ideal "everything-falls-right" draft. This is my ideally possible, conceivable outcome. Gabe Jackson has excellent size, he’s quick, he understands positioning and angling, he is a plus in pass protection, and is athletically and mentally above average. This kid is a dependable piece along the line who started all 52 games at Miss St. He’ll start as a rookie and will be starting for the Rams for a long, long time.

ARE WE REALLY SKIPPING TACKLE AGAIN?

The way I see it, we can draft a long term starter with huge potential that gets to dig in at Guard and play there forever and a year, or we can draft the 5th or 6th best OT in the draft at pick 44 and teach him Guard for a year or two and then have him relearn a position, creating a hole at Guard again and having a rookie start there for the second time in 3 years. I’d rather bypass the mess and draft a starting guard now, and a serviceable backup at OT to cover for injury in case Jake Long goes down.

75.
JAYLEN WATKINS, CB Florida

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Conceivable:

  • Will Sutton
  • EJ Gaines
  • Ego Ferguson
  • Dakota Dozier
  • Antonio Richardson
  • Louichez Purifoy

Stretch:

  • Carlos Hyde
  • Jared Abbrederis
  • Martavis Bryant

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

This is tricky for me. I wanted to draft a corner here, but I’m really thrown off by the Rams’ increasing interest in the Defensive Tackle market. They already have a formidable duo in Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford. After signing Alex Carrington, and with our backup Defensive Ends using a very successful hybrid package where they move inside, I can’t quite justify using this pick on DT over a CB. I’m torn here because I’m a Will Sutton fan, but with the talent we currently possess on the D-Line, I don’t see why we should move off of the corners. As far as Jaylen Watkins goes, he was my 80th ranked player overall at pick 75, it was need-meets-value here. Some may think it's a reach but I've seen him get picked up right outside the top 50 in some scenarios. I hope it helps that the Rams get to bring Sammy and his brother together and it isn’t a detriment. You never know with family. Anyway, Jaylen Watkins showed the ability to play corner and safety, and looks like he’ll be able to be great in that nickel corner role. This is exactly the versatile safety/nickel player that I would like to see the Rams draft. Lamarcus Joyner can be that but it looks like unless we take him in the 2nd, he’ll be long gone and I don’t think that’s the best direction to go at that high in the draft. We don’t necessarily need to draft a starting corner, but we definitely need to nab a nickel corner who can step in and fill in at multiple positions and be a safety net (no pun intended) for any injuries in the secondary. He’s fluid, can flip the hips, play the slot, and get physical in short areas. I like that a lot.

SHOULDN’T WE BE LOOKING FOR OUR NEW QB? IS TOM SAVAGE REALLY GOOD ENOUGH TO GO IN THE SECOND OR THIRD?

No..and no.

110.
DAQUAN JONES, DT Penn St.

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Conceivable:

  • Jordan Tripp
  • Pierre Désir
  • Keith McGill
  • Bishop Sankey

Stretch:

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

Ohhhh, okay. Now Jeff Fisher is cracking a smile in the war room. Daquan Jones is likely to be available in the 4th, but it isn’t a guarantee. Anyway, if he is, Jones is a big, strong force on the inside that plays with surprisingly quick movement and plenty of size and power. He figures to be a one technique in a 4-3. He’ll be a big improvement in our run defense and can take on both Centers and Guards simultaneously, leaving Brockers single guarded. A good 1-technique DT can dramatically improve an entire run defense, because he makes several players’ jobs much easier.

153.
DEVONTA FREEMAN, RB Florida St.

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Conceivable:

  • Storm Johnson
  • Brandon Coleman
  • Brandon Thomas
  • Tre Boston
  • Dri Archer

Stretch:

  • Terrance Mitchell
  • Aaron Colvin
  • Ed Stinson
  • Michael Sam

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

Freeman is a kid that could come in and spell Zac Stacy, but not give away what our plans are, since he isn’t exactly the OPPOSITE of Stacy like a Mike Tolbert/Ryan Matthews tandem. He is an efficient runner that can put the moves on you, squeeze through tight spaces, and also bust your ass with a big hit if you aren’t ready. He isn’t the biggest or the fastest back, but he does a bit of everything and at an above average level. He’s a reliable pass protector, has plus receiving skills in the backfield which we lack, and he never misses time. If they aren’t sold on the current crop of backs (I’m not) then I think he would be a great tandem piece with Zac Stacy.

ARE YOU SURE WE DON'T HAVE MORE PRESSING NEEDS THAN RB HERE?

I think you could make an argument for an offensive tackle, a Defensive End or another DB like Terrance Mitchell here, but I’m not sold on our running back depth and at Zac Stacy’s height and overall stature, it would be nice to get him a counter part. At any of those other positions, you’re most likely drafting backups. At running back, you’re drafting a player that is going to see snaps in every game. Also, if anything were to happen to Zac Stacy, Devonta Freeman is more than capable of stepping into a starting role, with Benny Cunningham and Daryl Richardson relieving him.


188. SEANTREL HENDERSEN, OT MIAMI
214. LOGAN THOMAS, QB/TE V-TECH

Conceivable:

  • Connor Shaw
  • David Fales
  • Andre Hal
  • Prince Shembo
  • Kadeem Edwards

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

At this point, position starts to matter less and less. We could use a little bit of depth everywhere, so I picked up Jake Long’s potential backup in the monstrous Seantrel Henderson at 214th overall. Once projected to be one of the best at his position, he has made off the field issues into a bigger deal than his talent is worth. Regardless, he will be drafted, and why not use a late flyer on a guy this massive with as much talent as he has?

As far as Logan Thomas, this pick literally changes by the minute in my mind, between Connor Shaw, Logan Thomas, and David Fales. Fales plays right in my backyard (figuratively, dumb ass) and I’ve seen a lot of him. He doesn’t possess plus arm strength, but the guy is accurate as all get out and has some potential to be a Trent Green-esque player, as some have said. That’s a bargain in the sixth. Logan Thomas, for me though, can be an offensive weapon in different ways. The guy isn’t going to walk in and start at QB, (because Bradford will most likely beat out any QB in this draft on day one) but he has the unique ability to switch out to tight end. A tight end that was a starting QB every year at Virginia Tech? I can’t be mad at the trickery that may ensue if we line him up in the slot. There’s a lot to like. Thomas stands at 6'6" and weighs in at 250 pounds. For that type of athlete, he doesn’t move too well but he can still get the job done. He also has a cannon. The guy can really pack that two-fitty behind a throw. At the end of the day, there’s just so much talent and versatility to mold that you really can’t do much better in a 6th round passer. Wait, what was I saying about David Fales…..

226. CASSIUS MARSH, DE UCLA
241. MARQUESTON HUFF, S WYOMING
249. CARLOS FIELDS, OLB WSSU
250. TREY MILLARD, FB OU

REASON FOR DRAFTING:

By now, I’m sure you just want me to shut the hell up and go to sleep and I will..shortly. But I want to run through these picks really quick first! Cassius Marsh exudes the typical white skill position attributes; high motor, outstanding effort, yadda yadda, but he has family in the NFL, and those attributes could amount to plus potential, even if he is a bit slow. I would consider this a steal in the 7th round if he’s here.

Marqueston Huff is a guy with a ton of potential in the right role. He was outmatched as a safety, but projects as a potential starter at corner. He has good size and is sudden and fluid in his movement. He played up to his competition and has college experience as a safety, a corner, and on special teams which is crucial at this point in the draft.

Carlos Fields may be able to be had as an UDFA but I like him a lot. He plays for the Rams already (the Winston-Salem State Rams) and he has a ton of upside for a small school kid. Fields is instinctual, physical, quick to the ball, and is rarely found out of position. He could go anywhere from the 6th to undrafted, but he just has that football instinct that I think will make him a steal late in the draft.

Trey Millard is the best available fullback in the draft, and even though the position is dying out altogether, teams like the Rams still like to keep a fat guy in there to protect the running back every now and again. Millard isn’t the biggest FB, but he is versatile and can block, run, and catch. I wouldn’t mind picking up a player at pick 250 that can come in and start at his position, however fleeting those opportunities may be.

FINALLY

And there you have it folks, the draft that I see going down with the greatest combination of value and need that is possible. In all likelihood, my big board is letting me grab players way later or way earlier than what is going to be available to us. For example, Jaylen Watkins might be ranked much lower and Marqueston Huff may go way earlier. If I am not seeing it right, let me know. If you see the conceivable options or the stretch players as guys you would rather have, let me know why. I just want a better understanding of what we all want, need, and how we can get the best of both. At the end of the day, these are just excellent exercises in player research. For every name we look up, every measurable and stat we include in our research, every player we dismiss and every player we admire, we understand the game inside and out THAT much better. We start to understand what kind of fan we are and what kind of team we want to build and it’s fascinating.

On that note, we most certainly won’t draft any of these players. In fact, outside of Sammy Watkins, I don’t think they’ve even visited a single player on this list. Oh, well. I’ll be throwing my hat in for GM once Les Snead drafts Manziel at 2 and leaves in 2015. You won’t be mocking me then! MWAHAHAHA

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