The 2015 NFL Draft is roughly 6 months away. The NFL regular season is close to being half-completed. It's the perfect time to unleash my first 2015 NFL Mock Draft! This will be an intriguing, difficult off-season for the St. Louis Rams. There will be tough decisions to make regarding pending free agents. Potential issues with the offensive line - and the quarterback position - will command the Rams' attention. Ultimately, the team will be looking to put the final pieces in place for a playoff run in 2015.
St. Louis Rams 2015 Free Agents
Position Player FA Status C Tim Barnes RFA G Davin Joseph UFA RT Joe Barksdale UFA OL Mike Person UFA WR Kenny Britt UFA TE Lance Kendricks UFA TE Cory Harkey ERFA RB Chase Reynolds ERFA QB Shaun Hill UFA QB Austin Davis RFA QB Case Keenum ERFA P John Hekker RFA LB Will Herring UFA DT Alex Carrington UFA S Rodney McLeod RFA
The Rams will have 15 players eligible for free agency at the end of this season. 11 of the players are on the offensive side of the ball. Only 3 players are from the defense. P John Hekker is the remaining eligible free agent.
At this point in the process, 3 players stand out for their importance to the teams' long-term plans: RT Joe Barksdale, P John Hekker, and QB Austin Davis. The Rams will likely make every effort to re-sign all three of them.
The offensive line - with 4 pending free agents - will undoubtedly undergo major changes in the off-season. The Rams will probably not re-sign Davin Joseph. LT Jake Long and C Scott Wells could both become cap casualties. Adding depth - especially to the interior line - will be near the top of the Rams' off-season agenda.
The Rams' quarterback situation is muddied, to say the least. Will Austin Davis continue his high-level performances throughout the remainder of the season? Will the Rams re-sign him? Does Sam Bradford still factor into the Rams' plans for the QB position? Will they attempt to restructure the last year of his contract, converting a large part of his base salary to incentives? Will the Rams be looking to select a QB in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft? There are many difficult questions to answer in the coming months involving the QB position.
The salary cap will figure prominently in the Rams' 2015 off-season. The league salary cap is expected to rise next year, from the current $133 million to an estimated $145-146 million. What transpires with Sam Bradford's contract will dramatically affect available salary cap space. Robert Quinn's extension hits the Rams' salary cap full-force next year; a $16.744 million cap hit. With 15 pending free agents, the Rams must exercise great care in determining who they wish to re-sign.
The list/ranking of team needs will change many times before the upcoming NFL Draft. Currently, Safety, LB, and the interior OL head the list of needs.
St. Louis Rams 2015 Mock Draft With Trades
Trade Receive 1.10 1.16 4.106 2.480 5.138 4.111 6.170 7.202
Round Position Player School 1.16 S Landon Collins Alabama 2.42 ILB Benardrick McKinney Mississippi St. 2.48 OL Josue Matias Florida St. 3.74 C Hroniss Grasu Oregon 4.111 TE Jeff Heuerman Ohio State
Mock Draft Notes And Rationale
In this scenario, the Rams finish with a 7-9 record, and pick 10'th overall in the first round. During the off-season, the Rams have managed to re-sign Austin Davis, Joe Barksdale, Tim Barnes, and John Hekker.
In the mock draft, the 2 highest-rated QB's in the draft - Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston - are selected in the top five. The Rams trade down the Number 10 selection - plus their 4'th round pick - and move down to Number 16, acquiring an additional 2'nd round pick in the process. Later in the draft, the Rams trade their 5'th, 6'th, and 7'th round selections to move back up into the 4'th round.
The Rams' interior offensive line is likely to be the teams most critical need heading into the draft. If the Rams re-sign RT Joe Barksdale, there will be little need to address the tackle positions early in the draft. The only reason the Rams do not select an offensive lineman in the first round is the dearth of first-round quality Centers and Guards at Number 16.
The Rams refrain from selecting a QB in this mock draft. The next version will have the team selecting one of Connor Cook, Brett Hundley, or Kevin Hogan.
The Rams have 42 players under contract for 2015. Presuming they will add another half-dozen or more players to the roster by re-signing/signing free agents, the Rams will be focusing on quality in the upcoming draft, not quantity.
Collins is currently the top-rated safety in the country. He's athletic, fast, and possesses good size (6' - 215). Collins is versatile, with the ability to play both SS and FS. With Rodney McLeod possibly leaving the Rams via free agency, Collins is an ideal replacement, exhibiting attributes coveted by the Rams.
McKinney led the Bulldogs in tackles (71), tackles for loss (7), and sacks (3.5) in 2013. Athletically gifted, McKinney is 6'4" - 245, and can reportedly run in the 4.5's. He's also quite versatile, having lined up all over the field. A quintessential Fisher/Snead-type selection, McKinney would fill a big need at LB for the Rams.
Matias is a huge man (6'6" - 331) with great agility and athleticism for his size. Matias is featured at LG, but displays the versatility - and has the experience - to play tackle. A powerful run-blocker, Matias will need to develop his technique in some areas, but should easily make the adjustment to the pros.
Scott Wells will likely end up as a cap casualty after this season. Tim Barnes could be lost in free agency, and Barrett Jones is an unknown quantity at this point in the 2014 NFL regular season. Grasu has first-round potential. Every year (or so it seems), an interior offensive linemen with first-round abilities falls to the third round in the draft. Gabe Jackson, Jon Asamoah, and Larry Warford are the most recent examples of players who inadvertently fell to the third round. Grasu is an athletic, highly-developed technician, who would immediately challenge for a starting role as a rookie.
The Rams could conceivably lose both of their blocking TE's in free agency. Heuerman is a strong, tough player, with good size (6'5" - 255), and reliable hands. Blocking and versatility are his forte's. For coach Urban Meyer, Heuerman has lined up in the backfield, inline, and as a wideout in the slot. On tape, he isn't a stand out in any particular area, but has a good set of all-around skills.