My 2014 Draft Predictions

What I Want to Happen

The Rams draft Khalil Mack at two.

If he is there at two, the Rams should take Mack. His pass rushing ability makes him a great fit at Sam LB while Ogletree would be a tremendous Will LB. Would there be a front seven more imposing than the Rams with Mack? Given Gregg Williams propensity to blitz, Mack could put his pass rushing skills to use very often. Good luck blocking Quinn, Long, Brockers, Hayes and Mack on a blitz.

Mack recorded the highest ever SackSEER rating according to Football Outsiders and had unreal production at Buffalo. Mack is a true difference maker and a guy with a very high floor; a true once in a decade prospect. The Rams have the good fortune of being able to (potentially) select him with the second pick. If he had attended a BCS school, he'd have already signed with the Texans. Drafting Mack may allow the Rams make one of the few number two draft picks that could be accurately classified as a "steal".

Successful teams have used three defensive ends consistently. Look at Seattle last year or the New York Giants in 2007 with Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. In today's fast-paced, passing-focused offensive environment, teams with three excellent pass rushers are at a great advantage. Mack brings that advantage to the Rams.

The Rams Should Not Draft Greg Robinson with the number two pick. Greg Robinson is Jason Smith.

The last time the Rams used a number two pick on a tackle (Jason Smith), it did not work out so well. Of course, the fact that the Rams picked a tackle number two overall and it did not work out does not mean that Robinson should not be taken number two this year. Jason Smith is just an uncanny comparable for Robinson and it so happens that they may drafted in the same spot. One scout that I talked with even said, "I haven't seen a tackle coming out of college with this much athleticism since Jason Smith."

While I believe that Smith was unfairly maligned in St. Louis (he did a nice job run blocking and decent job pass blocking, it isn't his fault that he had concussions that kept him off the field), Smith was hardly an elite tackle when healthy. As Rams' fans we often become focused on just the Rams picks and forget that no draft happens in a vacuum. That 2009 draft was relatively devoid of talent, with just one Pro-Bowler in the top 10 picks. (The 2010 draft, by comparison, has produced seven Pro-Bowlers. The first overall pick that year is not one of them.)

Smith played in a spread offense, while Robinson has played in an option offense; neither is a pro-style. I simply do not trust lineman coming out of these systems.

Their combine stats are eerily similar:




Arm length

Hand size

40-yd dash






Jason Smith

6 ft 5 in

309 lb

33¾ in

9⅞ in

5.09 s


7.53 s

24 in

8 ft 0 in

33 reps

Greg Robinson

6 ft 5 in

332 lb

35 in

10 in

4.92 s


7.80 s

28 1⁄2 in

9 ft 5 in

32 reps

Let's see, same height, hand Robinson's arm length is ¼ inch longer, his hands are 1/8 inch bigger and Smith was able to crank out one bench press rep.

Both players also played against Mizzou (as conference opponents) during their last season in college. The game against Smith's Bears had a better outcome, however.

Smith and Robinson Similarity Recap:
1) Both #2 picks (potentially)
2) Both heralded for their athleticism
3) Neither played in pro-style offense in college
4) Uncanny similar combine stats
5) Played against Missouri during last season of college as conference opponents
6) Unable to live up to being the number (remains to be seen)

My Bold Predictions for this Quarterback Class

Johnny Manziel's "character issues" will not be a problem.

The guy is a little brash and got partying a few times. This is hardly a character issue in my opinion. I also think that a guy who knows how to go out, have fun and understand that football is not everything will be more successful.

Johnny Manziel will not be a great quarterback in the NFL.

While Manziel was an incredible college talent, I did not see enough out of him as a pocket passer to make me think he will be great in the NFL. Robert Griffin III, a relatively common comparison that I have seen, on the other hand showed much more of an ability to make passes in the pocket in college.

Mizzou was able to stop Manziel simply by having their DEs play contain on him. Given time in the pocket against MU, Manziel was not able to locate open receivers and make plays. The game he had against MU on the Tigers' senior day reminded me of senior day nearly a decade prior in 2004. Brad Smith was effectively contained by Jayhawks who refused to rush him, but forced him to beat them with his pocket passing. Unfortunately, Smith was unable to accomplish that task on senior day and the Tigers lost in disappointing fashion 14-31.

Can you really take that much from one game? While I prefer to use large sample sizes over small ones, I think that sometimes one game can expose a flaw large enough that I'd be hesitant to draft a guy high in the first round. Manziel's ineffectiveness against the Tigers, who just let him sit in the pocket, makes me question whether he truly is a first round talent.

I had a similar feeling about Blaine Gabbert after his performance against Nebraska in 2010. Coming off a homecoming win against #1 Oklahoma, Gabbert showed brutal pocket presence at #14 Nebraska (lost 17-31) and the next week as well at unranked Texas Tech (lost 17-24), who had one of the worst ranked defenses in the country. Those two games had me convinced that Blaine would struggle in the NFL (although I still hope I am wrong and he can turn it around.) Whoever drafts Manziel has hopefully that MU film more than once.

Manziel's stat line in that MU game for reference:
Completions: 24
Attempts: 35
Completion %: 68.6%
Yards: 195
Yards / Attempt: 5.6
TD: 1
Int: 0
Rushing Attempts: 11
Rushing Yards: 21

Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback in the draft.

Admittedly, I am the least confident in this prediction, but I have a feeling that Carr will end up being the best QB in '14 class. One of the least appreciated qualities, in my opinion, for quarterbacks to succeed is pocket presence. I believe the lack of pocket presence is what has doomed Gabbert and Bradford in their NFL careers.

Of the top QBs in the draft, Bridgewater and Carr appear to be the best at this skill. Manziel evades pressure, but struggles sitting in the pocket. Bortles mechanics and footwork look awkward at times under pressure. This leaves Bridgewater and Carr who both showed some pretty good pocket presence in college. Bridgewater's short passes sometimes come out very wobbly, which is concerning, but Kurt Warner did not exactly throw great spirals either.

This leaves me thinking that Carr is the best QB in the draft, although I am hedging my bold prediction a little bit using Bridgewater as my backup.

In conclusion, the Rams will presented with a historic opportunity tomorrow night to take Khalil Mack, a player who will provide a vast upgrade to our defense and make the Rams front seven as formidable as any in the league. They should steer clear of Greg Robinson (aka Jason Smith 2.0) because as much as I liked Jason Smith, he was not worthy of a number two pick.

Manziel's character issues will not be a problem, but his pocket passing will be and he will not be one of the league's top QBs. Derek Carr (or maybe Teddy Bridgewater) are the one (two) QBs that I could see developing into a star.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow night, just like every other night, I'll be cheering, "R-A-M-S! Rams! Rams! Rams!"

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