On the third day of the 2014 NFL draft, the Rams continued to add depth, specifically in the defensive secondary and the offensive line. There were several themes to the Rams selections today, with small school prospects, players with local ties, and players with ties to the coaching staff being shown a lot of love.
With the 10th pick in the 4th round (110 overall) the Rams took Maurice Alexander from Utah State. He is a thumper at Strong Safety but his coverage skills need some development if he is going to be a dependable backup to T.J. McDonald. Alexander is from St. Louis and is likely excited at the prospect of playing for his hometown team.
With the 12th pick in the 6th round (188 overall) the Rams added E.J. Gaines. The Mizzou product was known in Columbia as a play-maker and, although undersized, has shown the ability to shut down bigger WRs. In the Mizzou - Texas A&M tilt last season, Gaines held Mike Evans to 4 receptions for 8 yards. Gaines profiles as a CB who can come in and immediately challenge Rodney McLeod and Brandon McGee for playing time as the nickel DB.
With their other selection in the 6th round (214 overall) the Rams found their developmental QB. Garett Gilbert was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school but, after flaming out at Texas, transferred to SMU. At 6'4"/240, he has the 'prototypical' size that you hear about so often in NFL scouting circles. As the saying goes... you can't teach size. However, those searching for a Bradford replacement shouldn't get their hopes up. Gilbert is strictly a project at this stage in his development.
The Rams kicked off their 7th round bounty by selecting a massive (6'9", 290) OT from Portland State. Mitchell Van Dyk is a converted tight end that will need to add bulk, refine his technique, and adjust to a higher level of competition if he is going to stick in the NFL. He is a likely practice squad candidate next year.
Continuing the rebuild in the defensive secondary, the Rams picked up Christian (C.B.) Bryant. Bryant has experience at safety, corner, and in the slot so he will prove to be useful in Gregg Williams defense. With special teams experience to boot, I'd wager that he makes the roster as a 'core' special teams player.
Late in the 7th round, the team made history by drafting Michael Sam. I won't get into the 'PR' side of things as it will be all over the local and nation media. He profiles as a situational pass rusher and special teams player for the Rams in '14. From a pure football standpoint, I love this pick.
The Rams selected the final member of their 2014 draft class when the chose Demetrius Rhaney at #250. Rhaney is a quintessential small school prospect. He has the right build to be a center and has a high motor. Size and effort can only take you so far in the NFL, so look for him to be on the practice squat for a year or two, particularly since the Rams already employ Scott Wells, Tim Barnes, and Barrett Jones at the Center position.
The Rams had two obvious goals on day 3. Solidify depth at the back end of the defense and find depth on the OL for Paul Boudreau to coach up. Toss in a developmental QB and the addition of the reigning SEC Defensive player of the year... and you have a pretty successful day.