Besides the big hole on the roster at wide receiver, another glaring need for the St. Louis Rams was evident in their loss to the 49ers this week: outside linebacker.
All year, the soft underbelly of the Rams mostly impressive defense has been intermediate range passes on the outside. Tight ends, slot receivers and opposing running backs (case in point: Frank Gore's consecutive passes on third-and-32 and fourth-and-18) have feasted on that weakness. It cost the Rams this weekend, and will no doubt cost them again when they matchup against teams with talented playmakers at those positions.
You can bet that's an area GM Billy Devaney and Co. will address during the offseason. Of course, those of you ravenous for draft talk don't have to wait until January. SBN has a mock draft out right now, and the prognosticators who put it together have the Rams addressing that need with their first round pick.
Picking 11th based on current records, here's their pick for the Rams:
11. St. Louis Rams (4-5): Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA. Ayers' coverage abilities will get him drafted early. Kadar, for the record, wasn't a fan of this pick: "It would be hard to pass on a wide receiver here, especially when the Rams quietly have one of the best defenses in the NFL."
There you go, an outside linebacker just outside the top ten picks. FWIW, the draft has A.J. Green (8th to the Cardinals) and Julio Jones (10th to the Browns) drafted before the Rams' pick.
If either one of those guys are on the board for the Rams' first round pick, I'd say it's a done deal...surely.
But what about Ayers? I know we have a sizable group of Bruins fans 'round here, so I'll eagerly await your assessment of the mock draft pick.
Walter Football has him 4th on their OLB rankings, but speaks highly of his ability to play in coverage. Is he ranked this high because he's seen as a 3-4 OLB? Scouting reports seems split on that, but none differ in their assessment of his abilities otherwise.
Thoughts armchair draft pundits?