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Which of the Rams remaining roster needs is the most important?

I don't think anyone at this site would argue that the St. Louis Rams met every pending need in the 2011 NFL Draft. I don't think even the front office would try to make that case. Getting a feel for the Rams' draft has been harder this year since the lockout turned the lights out on the free agency matinée that usually precedes the draft. The Rams have always managed to add a hand or two via that route before the draft.

At some point, you have to think free agency will happen. What exactly free agency looks like whenever it does happen, however, remains to be seen. The widespread belief that it would have the same six-year rules as 2010 took a hit today with the news that the league is considering other options, in order to keep further antitrust complaints at bay. Regardless of what free agency does look like, it seems unlikely that the Rams could met every remaining need with the available crop of players and an unlimited pot of gold.


These are the biggest remaining needs.

Backup running back: Whether you think the Rams need a complementary back to split carries with Steven Jackson or just a more reliable option should he miss time with injuries, this one that even has Billy Devaney kicking himself. But if Jackson stays healthy this season, it won't have been a big need after all. He's probably not going to see the same amount of carries with McDaniels calling the plays, partly because of the emphasis on the passing game, partly because of all the other targets on the field.

Offensive guard: More offensive weapons will take away those stacked boxes, ideally. As for blocking in the red zone, it's a similar theory, more weapons will pull away pressure on the front. And maybe they already have an answer in John Greco, even if they go back to a time share situation.

Outside linebacker: Remember just how badly exposed the Rams were on the outside, the weakside last year? If they can find someone to improve coverage, it will make the rest of the back seven that much more effective, particularly James Laurinaitis. But maybe an improved front four can help that. An athletic Robert Quinn could do a lot more to contain QBs and keep the pocket closed.

Defensive tackle: Fred Robbins didn't see as many snaps down the stretch. Behind him, the Rams have a collection of rotational guys with big question marks. Spags can't throw a 4 DE front out there for every down, can he?

Safety: The secondary needs someone to replace Atogwe, right? It would sure seem that way. St. Louis didn't get burned by the deep ball much last year, but without Atogwe patrolling the backfield how likely is that to remain? And why throw deep when throwing 7 yards down the field was so effective anyway? Then again, better play up front could help the secondary.

Cornerback depth: Whenever Bradley Fletcher or Ron Bartell were off the field, the Rams struggled for pass coverage. Both have dealt with injuries in their recent past too. Ideally, this is the year Jerome Murphy steps into the fold. Can he breakthrough to give the Rams a solid third corner?