Second round predictions are a tough sell for the St. Louis Rams and general manager Billy Devaney. In the last two drafts, Devaney's Rams have defied conventional wisdom and shattered draftnik draft boards in the second frame of the draft.
Last year, it was Indiana OT Rodger Saffold. Most predicted Saffold to go later in the second, since most saw him as strictly a right tackle, even a guard. Pundits scratched their heads, some fans howled. "How could the Rams do such a thing with Alex Barron on the roster," became a short-lived version of "54-40 or fight" around St. Louis. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who sees Alex Barron as anything more than a cautionary tale of hanging on to a draft pick long past his expiration date.
In 2009, the decision to pick James Laurinaitis over Rey Maualuga was questioned by many. How's that working out for the Rams now?
So could or will be the surprise pick this year?
Kyle Rudolph would certainly qualify as a surprise, but the more I talk to people, the less I think this will happen. Most of all, Rudolph will be gone by the time the Rams pick in at #47. I like the idea of Rudolph, but others don't...and for good reason. I really do believe in the theory that Rams new OC Josh McDaniels has learned a thing or two from his old boss, like how to stretch the field in the passing game without a top-flight wide receiver, just like the Pats did last year with Gronkowski and Hernandez. The thing is, they already have their Gronkowski in Michael Hoomanawanui, a big, tough tight end who runs routes well and possess good hands. The key difference is the speed and burst.
To me, the next best tight end in the draft is Arkansas' D.J. Williams. He's a great football player who can be used all over the field, especially getting upfield. Ergo the 2010 Patriots' strategy of using tight ends. Lance Kendricks is another possibility, but both of those guys could be a little high for the Rams 47th pick.
I keep coming back to the Terrell McClain idea. He wasn't high on the draft radar until the draft-prep season really got underway. During his college career he played with two solid pass rushers, Jason Pierre-Paul and the Rams' own George Selvie, so he doesn't have huge college production numbers (just 7.5 sacks).
McClain built his draft stock with big time performances in the East-West Shrine Game and as a replacement for Stephen Paea in the Senior Bowl. He did it again at his University of South Florida pro day, where he was watched by none other than Bill Belichick himself and the top brass from the Chicago Bears.
McClain's raw, but he does show the kind of burst you like in a 3-technique tackle. He also possesses the kind of non-stop motor Spagnuolo's Rams covet on their defensive line...and most other players. This is a coaching staff that's not overly concerned with rawness in their defensive linemen, as evidenced by their first-round pick of DE Robert Quinn, a supremely talented player who didn't even play his senior season at UNC.
Is the 47th pick of the second round a reach for McClain? Maybe. However, we're in that part of the draft where boards start to diverge on how players are valued. In terms of sheer talent, there's probably no better guy on the board right now than Marvin Austin. Last night, I said that the Rams would not consider Fairley because of questions about his character; the same goes for Austin. Like Fairley though, Austin will probably be gone before the Rams pick.
McClain's just one possibility for a surprise pick, but remember they valued Liuget pretty highly yesterday too. A 3-tech defensive tackle is definitely an option here.