It's surprising how much I like the Rams' draft haul despite the fact that Les Snead & Jeff Fisher didn't draft any one of the players I really wanted to be on the team. Jake Matthews was my favorite player in the entire draft so I was hopeful they would be able to trade down to secure another second-rounder and a top-6 pick to get him.
As it turns out, while the Rams liked both Matthews and Taylor Lewan as OT prospects, they reportedly had Zack Martin ranked as the #2 O-line prospect on their draftboard, which explains why they were trying to deal for Baltimore's 17th overall selection before the Cowboys surprisingly passed up on Johnny Football in order to select Martin at 16.
With all the pre-draft talk about Fisher's reluctance to use first-round selections on the O-line, it was refreshing to hear that he was willing to double up on such prospects, however, I would have personally gone with Jake Matthews and Xavier Su'a-Filo myself. Given this bit of information, I'm actually glad we stuck with Greg Robinson as the 2nd overall selection in hindsight since trading down from that slot would apparently have Snead & Fisher drafting Martin over Matthews.
Also, the cost to move back into the first round for a 3rd #1 pick would have been overpayment IMO with a likely price tag of the second-round (44th overall), third-round (75th), and fourth-round (110th) selections. Generally speaking, I would have loved to come away with 3 first-round selections in this draft at 2nd, 13th, and 17th overall even at the aforementioned price tag, but given what Snead & Fisher would have done with it and how things turned out, I'm glad we stuck with what we have even though Martin would have only cost us LaMarcus Joyner and Tre Mason in the end since such a deal would have negated trading away our fifth-round pick that would have likely been Mo Alexander (fourth-round selection), anyway.
In the game of nitpicking and second-guessing on my part, I was slightly disappointed that the Rams gave up their fifth-round pick to move up only 3 spots in order to nab Joyner 41st overall in the second round. Granted there was a big need for the team for a defensive back prospect and Snisher apparently made the timely maneuver in order to keep the Titans from taking him with the immediately following selection, but I was quite hopeful that we could have made a deal to move up further (with Atlanta at 37th overall?) in the second-round to select either Su'a-Filo or USC WR Marquise Lee. Heck, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, another of my preferred players, was still available when Joyner was selected.
I have nothing against Joyner since I'm glad that we have such a gamer on our team, especially at a position of need, albeit a bit undersized, but can you imagine adding a Lee or Matthews to solidify our wide receiving corps to go along with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey at the relative bargain of a second-round selection? Having Brian Quick and Chris Givens as wildcards to complement that core instead of counting on them to provide consistent production would have inspired more confidence in our passing game.
Again, I actually like the Joyner pick in a vacuum, but most pundits thought it was a bit of a reach at that spot even as the Rams swiped him right from under the nose of another team and with the run of DB prospects at that stretch of the draft proceedings. For as much faith I have in the Snisher regime, they haven't been infallible given their previous inclinations to draft the likes Justin Blackmon and Trent Richardson with a top-6 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Then again, I wanted those two players back then as well, so what do I know. The point is, while nobody is perfect, it is exciting to think of the possibilities of what-could-have-been in hindsight even with the just concluded 2014 draft.
The Rams are fortunate to have hit homeruns with their 2 first-round picks in elite OT prospect Robinson and DT prospect Aaron Donald, who is widely recognized as close to being as disruptive a defensive force as Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack even if he doesn't possess the measurables of those two topnotch specimens. While I was hoping for Anthony Barr myself at 13th overall, who was taken by Minnesota two picks before that, I can't complain with what we actually came away with.
Having two anticipated strong immediate contributors to both sides of the trenches will both allow Sam Bradford a better opportunity to show what he is capable of and further enhance a recognized strength on the defensive line towards terrorizing our NFC West opponents. Having line coach Paul Boudreau to develop Greg Robinson as he starts out at guard really maximizes the value of the 2nd overall pick.
I even like the fact that we further added to the underrated benefit of bringing in teammates who have proven effective in college. First, it was Austin and Bailey from West Virginia and now it's Robinson and Mason from Auburn. I was hoping to see that repeated with A.J. McCarron and Barrett Jones, but alas, it was not meant to be. I was admittedly not high on the Tre Mason selection but he looks to strengthen the rotation of our running game, which will be a focus of the offense, by forming a dangerous tandem with Zac Stacy.
While Mo Alexander was involved in an altercation that cost him a year of football development, he seems like a nice redemption story, who is not only grateful but pumped for the opportunity to prove himself on the field. What is further promising is that Alexander, along with the Rams' other 2014 DB prospects of Joyner, Gaines, and C.B. Bryant, all have strong leadership profiles.
Both Gaines and DE prospect Michael Sam look like late-round steals and were both teammates out of Missouri in also adding to the aforementioned supportive bonus of chemistry. While I'm wary of Sam garnering headlines for his lifestyle choices, I'm confident that Fisher can minimize the media distractions. Even still, it's nice that the Rams are a part of history towards the diversity in sports and it'll be all the better if he can contribute effectively on the gridiron.
6'7" mystery man Mitchell Van Dyk provides intrigue as an offensive line prospect in the 7th round as does Demetrius Rhaney. Neither present much risk as picks in the final round but both provide decent possibilities as developmental projects for the practice squad.
The lone real disappointment in the draft for me is the selection of SMU QB Garrett Gilbert in the 6th round, which may be unfair, since he is supposedly a late-blooming prospect with nice size, decent athletic ability, and an endorsement from QB guru June Jones. While I'm content we didn't invest in a higher selection for a backup quarterback, I'm disappointed we went with one who has demonstrated a lack of aptitude for more complex offensive schemes and has only proven effective so far in short-to-intermediate range passing. My discontent is only furthered by the fact that we missed out on Tajh Boyd by one pick after the Jets' 213th overall selection.
In any case, while my post may be skewed towards the negative in what we didn't get, it just makes it all the more impressive that even a Negative Ned like me still likes what we got a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing how these new Rams will contribute to our success for the 2014-15 season.