Jake Long is now the Rams' starting left tackle. Thuper.
But while the wins in free agency plug up a couple holes, the draft is creeping toward us presenting the annual re-stocking of talent required to nail in order to be a competitive team. Matthew Fairburn stepped up at MTD today with his mock draft following the Long news starting it off for the Rams with:
16. Tavon Austin: WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin has hit a home run in the pre-draft process. While we have DeAndre Hopkins as the top wide receiver in the draft, Austin provides an element of explosion that the Rams severely lack on offense.
I'm down. I've seen plenty of concern that the signing of Jared Cook means the Rams have a full-time slot guy, making Austin irrelevant. I couldn't disagree more.
Austin's versatile enough that you can play him outside or out of the backfield in a variety of ways. He's less of a slot receiver than he is a short-yardage athlete who can turn a 3-yard slant into a 15-yard scamper through traffic. The Rams don't have a multi-variate athlete on the roster. The Rams could use one. I'm cool with not overthinking this.
Back to the mock. It's not offering a whackadoo early or in between the Rams' two picks, but as always, it's worth identifying who's off the board at 22. Here, the Rams will have missed out on Kenny Vaccaro, Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper and D.J. Fluker. So who lands at 22?
22. John Cyprien: S, Florida International
The Rams landed Jake Long in free agency, freeing them up to address wide receiver and the secondary in the first round of April's draft. John Cyprien could sneak into the end of the first round. On tape, few safeties showed the range he displayed on a weekly basis at Florida International.
I like Cyprien's game, myself. He's got a nice blend of pass and rush defending skills, though doesn't really excel at both. I'm going to try and get a better look at him in the next two weeks, but he sounds like a great fit for the Rams' safety use.
Finishing out the 1st round, there's a bit of a whackadoo at 24 with Jamie Collins (OLB - Southern Mississippi) going to the Colts. I haven't seen him that high many places, so it was a bit notable.
How have your draft thoughts changed now that Jake Long is in horns? Is Fluker still an option in the 1st/2nd? What about drafting right tackle cover later on (surely, we're not going to bank on a right-sided Rodger Saffold going 16 games...)? What positions does this open up now that the Rams have added a TE and an OT?
Let's talk mock.