I almost hate to be the one posting this, but since I'm sort of our point person on these posts, it's just part of the process. The latest 2014 NFL mock draft is out from SB Nation's Mocking the Draft. It has a heaping helping of trades spicing up the first round. This latest mock is also projecting that the St. Louis Rams take a quarterback with the second overall pick.
In the interest of being as rational as possible, let's first just look at the Rams' two picks in this one.
2. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Here's where the 2014 NFL Draft could get weird. Are the St. Louis Rams committed to Sam Bradford at quarterback? At this point, we have no reason to be sure one way or the other. For now, St. Louis has to be considered a possible candidate to draft a quarterback.
Blake Bortles is still a bit of an unfinished product at quarterback. His size and mobility make him an enticing prospect. Many have linked the Texans to Bortles, and it appears more and more likely that he will come off the board somewhere in the first eight picks of the draft. It's time for a new direction at quarterback in St. Louis.
13. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Now that the Rams found a new quarterback, surrounding him with as much talent as possible should be a priority. Marqise Lee suffered through injuries for most of the 2013 season and that hurt his production. He's a natural burner, but needs to refine his technique when catching and get tougher at the line of scrimmage. His speed is outstanding, though, and he makes plays after the catch.
I want to keep this as rational as possible, i.e. let's avoid mud slinging over people's opinions in the comment section. And what better way to do that than with bullet points!
- This mock isn't a projection. It's meant as a look at what considerations teams should make in the first round of the NFL Draft, as well as the across-the-board implications of it all. Please remember that when seeing the Rams taking a QB in a mock draft, because we're going to see a lot more of those in the months ahead.
- Front office people, the Rams included, say lots of things. Don't read too much into them; it's all part of the game. If the everything turned out just like the Rams front office said: 1) Steven Jackson would've played in St. Louis last year, 2) Brian Quick would have been a superstar, 3) Tim Walton would still be the defensive coordinator, and 4) they'd probably draft nobody with the second pick. ANYTHING can happen.
- If this scenario were to play out, I'd rather see them take Teddy Bridgewater over Bortles. However, I like what Bortles can do with his legs as a passer, opening up new throwing lanes when he gets chased out of the pocket. That would have been a tremendous help over the last few years with such a woeful offensive line in St. Louis.
- Drafting a quarterback doesn't necessarily mean that the Rams would have to part ways immediately with Sam Bradford, but the size of his contract would make it a virtual certainty. With the $10 million saved, they could hopefully land a veteran backup to help mold the rookie or even give him a grace period as an understudy. The rest of that money could go toward beefing up the offensive line.
- Trading down is no guarantee for Les Snead. The majority of teams in the top 10 spots have talked openly about trading down. With that many picks for sale, the Rams may not find a willing partner. It also means the price of moving up in the draft is a buyer's market.
- I'm less convinced that the Rams will take another receiver in the first round, not while they're waiting for their young group of receivers to mature.
- I do like Lee as a prospect. It might take him some time to adjust to the NFL because he's been able to get by, partly, in the college world on his sheer athleticism at times, a la Tavon Austin. He is bigger than Austin, and more of a traditional NFL receiver, though there are still size concerns about the 6'0, 204-pound Trojan.
- Is Lee the kind of receiver the Rams need? There's a good case to make that they need a bigger guy, one who matches the likes of Seattle's big, physical cornerbacks, capable of plucking jump balls out of the air and winning those tough one-on-one matchups. That was supposed to be Quick, and this offense doesn't really have the luxury of simultaneously relying on players while still waiting for them to develop.
Those are the rational thoughts I have on this mock draft. If the Rams don't trade and skip the QB with the second pick, they'd still have Clowney, Sammy Watkins and some offensive tackles to choose from. Given the availability of Clinton-Dix with the 13th pick in this mock draft, I'm not so sure that wouldn't be a better move at that spot.
The Combine starts next week. But draft season is already in full swing, and the actual event itself isn't until May 8-10 this year. Buckle up; it's going to be a long spring.