The pre draft mocks are churning out every second it seems now that we've hit April. I have seen drafts ranging from outstanding, to downright insane. Today I'll talk about the good ideas and the bad keeping the most important things for my Rams in mind: BPA+NEED.
For weeks now I've been seeing "Clowney to the Rams". Now I'm also seeing "Mack to the Rams" with the #2 pick. UGH!!!! Honestly, the Rams hopefully won't be able to get either of these two due to a trade down, but taking either of these two guys at #2 would be absolutely ridiculous. Yes, these two are the best defensive players in the draft. Yes, Clowney is one of the best pass rushers coming out in years. However, last I checked the Rams have arguably the best front 7 in the NFL. Sure, sure, sure, you can never have too much of a good thing. Look at the ENTIRE team though. Gaping holes in the secondary, along the offensive line, and of course the #1 WR spot all provide MUCH more value to the Rams based on BPA+NEED.
While there definitely isn't a DB worth a top 10 pick, there are 2-3 OL worth top 10 picks, there is 1 (arguably 2) WRs worth a top 10 pick.
For the line you have Robinson, Mathews, Lewan. At WR you have Watkins and Evans. While it's true the Rams have Long and Barksdale set at OT, imagine how good this line could be by adding one of these 3 to play RT and moving Barksdale to LG. Say we took Robinson. Here is our line: Long-Barksdale-Wells-Saffold-Robinson. Outstanding. While it's true, OL isn't the sexy pick, the Rams don't need sexy, they need improvement.
On to WR. It's approaching 10 years since the Rams have had a true #1 WR. While I want to believe the WRs we have can produce that guy..... They just haven't shown any signs of that happening. The two with the potential are Givens and Quick. While I believe Bailey and Austin will be fantastic WRs, neither has the build to be a true #1 threat on the outside. Back to Quick and Givens. Givens showed a lot of promise his rookie year, flashing his ability to take the top off a defense. However, his sophomore campaign erased all of that. He looked lost, over matched, and helpless throughout the season. Was it the fact he was the only viable outside threat and teams just keyed on him? Was it the fact he is still a bit undersized to compete 1 on 1 with the physical CBs of the NFC West? Or was it simply a regression from what we saw in his rookie campaign? Can't be sure, but you can be sure that the confidence in his ability to be that #1 guy went into a free fall last year. Onto Quick. What a physical specimen. Fast, tall, strong. All the physical tools needed to be the guy the Rams have been looking for. HOLD UP! Turns out you need more than that to play in the NFL. Dropped balls, inability to seperate, and inability to get up to the speed of the NFL have all been the things keeping him from being that guy. The Rams have shown nothing in terms of developing talent at the position. Why they would take a guy that needed A LOT of development is beyond me. But the fact is he hasn't shown anything to be even a role guy at WR let alone the #1 guy. Don't even get me started on Britt.... If you are putting your faith in a 26 yr old injury prone WR with shaky knees and a bad attitude I feel bad for you. The last and most obvious argument for taking one of these amazing WR prospects is this. It's been 15 years since the Rams drafted a WR that would develop into a #1 guy. 15 YEARS!!!!! Mostly due to the Rams waiting until later rounds to try and find that hidden gem(and failing miserably time and time again). Well it's time to stop hoping for that later round guy to develop into a star and take the best in the draft.
Now onto the last arguments for all you Clowney / Mack clowns. "It would save so much money to replace Long with Clowney!" IT SURE WOULD! However, Long is a team leader. A hard nosed, every down 110% DE. He plays through injury. He never quits. He never lets his teamates quit. Clowney is none of those things. He is not a leader, he takes plays off, he doesn't play through injuries, and he does not have passion for the game. Last season showed that. While Long didn't produce the way we're accustomed to seeing last year, he was playing injured and he still put constant pressure on opposing QBs and improved quite a bit in run support. Quinn would not have had half the season if it weren't for Long being opposite him. Another point, how does it look to free agents and players with expiring contracts when you cut players whom you just gave big contracts to? Pretty sure they don't want anything to do with your team without A LOT of guaranteed money. The big thing though, is you don't cut veteran leadership that still produces with the best DEs in the NFL when you have the youngest team in the league. One of the biggest drawbacks to this team is a lack of veteran leadership. We need more of it, not less. With Mack, yes, he would be an upgrade over Dunbar. But Dunbar put up pro bowl numbers 2 years ago and missed time last season. The biggest hit on Dunbar was his coverage. He is a run stopping, pass rushing LB though, and Williams will use him as such. All these people are pointing to his coverage skills yet they want the Rams to draft a guy that is getting drafted for his pass rush and run stopping skills. But the biggest reason not to draft either of these guys still comes down to one thing. The Rams already have arguably the best front seven in the NFL, with glaring needs at 4 other positions (CB, S, OL, WR) and playing in what some are saying could be the best division talent wise in NFL history, taking a luxury pick isn't something the Rams can afford to do if they ever want to catch up to the other 3 teams in the West. The bottom line is this. Until you have solid starters at every position on your team, you don't replace borderline pro bowl guys with prospects that MIGHT be better.
Here is a great scenario.
The Rams trade down with the Oakland Raiders for there #5 pick, a 2nd round this year, and 1st rounder in 2015. Oakland is still Oakland. They will make bold (mostly terrible) moves to get there guy. They still need OT help, but I think they go after Clowney if Houston takes a QB. Even with the Schaub signing I still think they wouldn't mind taking a top QB either. But with that pick, the Rams select WR Sammy Watkins. They now have a #1 guy and can cross WR off the needs list for many years.
At #13 I wouldn't be surprised to see a trade, nor would I be mad about that. But we will use it to take the best coverage safety in the draft. Ha'sean Clinton Dix solidifies the Rams secondary and the defense as a whole leaving only depth needs at LB and CB remaining.
In the 2nd round at #4 (from Oakland) the Rams draft Su'a Filo to solidify the offensive line leaving only depth needs at tackle and guard remaining.
At #12 the Rams select CB Jason Verrett. The Rams need a nickleback and this guy has the skills to be a fantastic fit. This could be a reach as he might not make it out of the first round, but I can see it happening.
There ya go, the Rams fill every need in the first 2 rounds leaving depth and developmental guys as there only needs. I really like Christian Jones from Florida State as a 3rd round guy to provide depth and a future replacement for Dunbar at OLB.
The one thing to ask yourself about Clowney or Mack to the Rams....... Are the Rams good enough to draft a luxury pick #2 overall? The answer is unfortunately a very hard no. If they want to gain ground on the other 3 teams in the West, they MUST fill the glaring needs this roster still has. And like it or not, none of those needs are in the front 7.