The combine is (tears welling up) over. Pro day workouts begin tomorrow for a few schools, including Baylor, Tulane and Utah St., and there's still some movement to be had among prospects as teams begin showing their hands to insiders and big board rumors creep out of front office war rooms and into fans' living rooms. So although mock drafts are sure to flood the internet for the next two months as we approach the draft, today's a great day for post-combine mock drafts that interpret what we just saw Indy and translate those results into draft choices.
The real story for the Rams, obviously, is Julio Jones. Jones had one of the best combine performances among his peers, albeit on a fractured foot that requires surgery. Was his combine so strong he won't be there at 14? That's the immediate reaction among the mockosphere. For Ram fans hoping for Julio, there's still hope.
A mock draft from Draft Tek out today shows how Julio could land in our lap. First, defensive linemen and 3-4 SLBs need to come off the board often. In that mock, seven of the first thirteen picks work either along the D-line or in the premier pass rush spot in 3-4 defenses. Secondly, teams will have to go after cornerbacks before the Rams pick. Earlier last month, I noted Prince Amukamara's fate will have an impact on the Rams' draft. Amukamara had a solid combine, solidifying his chances to hear his name before the Rams are on the clock. In the Draft Tek mock, three corners (Patrick Peterson, Amukamara and Colorado's Jimmy Smith) are all gone by #14. The third key for the Rams to have a shot at Julio is quarterback selection, namely Cam Newton. Blaine Gabbert is the consensus top pro-style QB, and should that consensus hold for the next two months, he's all but guaranteed to be a top 7 pick. Newton, though, is far from a certainty to go before the Rams. Sure, he could be top 3, but don't be too surprised if he is still available when the Rams pick.
Of course, with his combine performance, Rams fans are exploring non-Quintorris options with more sincerity. Right now, that means defensive linemen. Rams GM Billy Devaney mentioned the strength of DEs in this class during his presser at the combine, although Van, who attended the session in person, suggested his comments were more news than clues. Still, it's obvious that D-line is seriously in play at #14. Four major mock drafts out today have the Rams adding talent at either DT or DE in the first round.
Jon Dove's post-combine mock throws Illinois DT Corey Liuget to the Rams, a pick that echoed His Kiperellency. The real trend today is Missouri DE Aldon Smith. SBN/Buffalo Rumbling writer Brian Galliford, Wes Bunting from National Football Post and Walter Football all offer A-Smith to the Rams in their mocks today.
The takeaway? Keep an eye on Julio Jones' foot as we get through this month and closer to draft day.
And per internet football law: CBA-related link.