The 2015 NFL Draft is less than 6 months away. The Rams are heading into the upcoming draft with only 5 picks in total (due to the trade for Mark Barron), and with only one first round selection.
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 quarterback position and offensive line will command the Rams' attention. Ultimately, the team will be looking to put the final pieces in place for a playoff run in 2015.
A month has transpired since my first 2015 mock draft was published. A lot has happened in the interim:
- QB Austin Davis, after a number of less-than-stellar performances, was replaced by Shaun Hill as the starter. This development further muddies the Rams' QB situation in 2015.
- At the trade deadline, the Rams acquired safety Mark Barron, in exchange for their 4th and 6th round selections in the 2015 NFL Draft. The expectation is the Rams will use more Big Nickel packages (3 safety's) going forward. Barron's acquisition may obviate the need for addressing the safety and/or linebacker positions early in the 2015 NFL Draft.
- The Rams lost Jake Long and Brian Quick to season-ending injuries in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Quick seemed well on his way to having a fine season. Long's career is now in jeopardy, having suffered a second ACL tear in as many seasons. Both of these losses could have an impact on the Rams' decision-making processes come April.
- The Rams have won three of their last 5 games against very tough opponents. They appear to be headed in the direction of picking outside the top ten in the upcoming draft, putting QB's Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota almost out of reach (even in a trade up).
St. Louis Rams 2015 Mock Draft (With Trades)
Trade Receive 1.11 1.20 2.48 5.139 4.111 7.202 2016 5th
Round Position Player School 1.20 OL La'el Collins LSU 2.42 QB Brett Hundley UCLA 2.48 FS Cody Prewitt Mississippi 3.76 C Reese Dismukes Auburn 4.111 ILB A.J. Johnson Tennessee
Mock Draft Notes And Rationale
The 2 highest-rated QB's in the draft - Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston - are selected in the top five in this mock draft. The Rams trade down the Number 11 selection and move down to Number 20, acquiring an additional 2'nd round pick in the process. Later in the draft, the Rams trade their 5'th and 7'th round selections (plus a future 5'th round pick) to move back up into the 4'th round.
The Rams' offensive line will undergo significant turnover this coming off-season. Five offensive linemen are eligible for free agency: Joe Barksdale, Mike Person, Tim Barnes, Brandon Washington, and Davin Joseph. In addition, both Jake Long and Scott Wells could become salary cap casualties. This mock draft addresses the need for starter-quality depth across the line.
There's much uncertainty surrounding the Rams' quarterback position. Shaun Hill (35 in January) isn't the long-term answer, and becomes a free agent after this season. Austin Davis had both good and bad moments as the Rams starter, before being benched in favor of Hill, and is also a free agent after this season. Will the Rams bring back Sam Bradford? Will they attempt to restructure his contract? Can he come back and be effective, after two season-ending ACL tears in as many years? In this mock draft the QB position is addressed in the second round, with the selection of Brett Hundley. Although the Rams could choose to bring back both Bradford and Davis, it's prudent for them to consider as many options as it takes to solidify the position, for both the short and long-term.
As noted, the Rams' offensive line could see many changes in the off-season. In last years draft, the Rams attempted to trade up for Zack Martin, an offensive tackle with interior line capabilities. Trading up for Martin would have been costly - a 2nd and 3rd round pick this year, plus a 2nd in 2015 - but worth it. The Rams finish what they started with the selection of Collins. Collins is versatile, having split his time at guard and tackle for LSU. A mauler in the running game, Collins begins his NFL career at guard, and provides the Rams with depth at both tackle positions. The Rams are familiar with this strategy of moving tackles inside, having started both Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold at guard (at the same time) in 2014. Collins is the highest-rated OL on the Rams' board at this point in the draft.
With the selection of Hundley, the Rams add an early-round prospect to the mix at quarterback. An athletic, strong-armed, dual-threat passer, Hundley will need some time to develop before challenging for a starting role. Hundley represents good value in the second round, in a draft with few top-tier QB prospects.
Rodney McLeod becomes a free agent after this season. Prewitt is comparable in size (6'2"-217) to both Mark Barron and T.J. McDonald. The Rebels' center-fielder, Prewitt is a sure tackler, excels in coverage, and is a ball-hawk (11 career interceptions).
An experienced, 4-year starter at Auburn, Dismukes may be the best center in this years class. For the Rams, the center position is filled with uncertainty. Scott Wells may be in his last season with the team. Barrett Jones and Tim Barnes have garnered very little in the way of in-game experience in their time with the Rams, and remain unknown quantities. If Dismukes doesn't make it to the third round, Oregon C Hroniss Grasu would be a fine consolation pick at this spot in the draft.
Johnson adds some much-needed depth to the Rams' linebacker corps. He's quick, athletic, and a tackling machine (324 career tackles in 36 games entering the 2014 season).