You learn quickly in this business that a mock draft has no value as a predictive tool. It's fun as a prop bet, and it's most important function is giving readers another way to think about a team's offseason. Which is why I like mock drafts, well done mock draft at any rate, but I don't put any stock in them as a smoke signal. That fact hit me in the face again at about 3:30 a.m. when I was proofing the latest SB Nation mock draft, and the St. Louis Rams going with Jadeveon Clowney at No. 2.
Here's the write up for the Clowney pick in the mock draft:
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
St. Louis is in an ideal spot early in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Rams once again could be in a position to trade down if they don't like the value with this pick. If St. Louis is forced to sit and pick at this spot, Jadeveon Clowney is a real possibility. Yes, the Rams are already stacked along the defensive line. But that doesn't mean they should pass on a transcendent talent like Clowney. He could play inside and on the edge in the Rams' 4-3 front and give them one of the most dangerous defensive lines in football.
Set aside the trade talk for a moment; assume the Rams have the second pick on draft night. Quarterback is where I'd go, but that doesn't seem like it's going to happen ... so set that aside too. It's too early for a guard, and there aren't any defensive backs worthy of the second pick. So, it's down to an offensive tackle, a wide receiver (i.e. Sammy Watkins) or Clowney. Take Clowney.
The South Carolina product is one of those rare talents, a guy that doesn't come around very often. There's not a player in the draft more talented than he is. St. Louis is already pretty stacked on the defensive line, but pass rushers, unlike some positions, are one of those spots where you can never really have enough talent.
Picking Clowney also provides the front office with some flexibility down the road, i.e. when Robert Quinn is due for a new deal which is sure to be a big one, a really big one. They can let Chris Long walk, use that money toward Quinn and still have a premium pass rusher playing on a rookie contract.
13. St. Louis Rams - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Not many have the hard-hitting Pryor getting picked ahead of Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Expect that to change as the draft approaches. Pryor gets the bump above Clinton-Dix because he can play free or strong safety, and he is just as good in coverage as he is in run defense.
A safety is good, but notice it's not Clinton-Dix? Pryor's aggressive, quicker than his 40 time, lays a vicious hit and can tackles without fail. There's a lot to like about him. The question the Rams will have to ask is whether or not they believe he can be a deep safety too. Read this Football Outsiders piece on Pryor.
44. St. Louis Rams - Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Value forced the Rams to use both first-round picks on the defense, but St. Louis has multiple needs on offense as well. The interior of the offensive line is a bit of a mess. Cyril Richardson didn't have the best Senior Bowl, but he's a mobile guard who has the size and strength to contribute right away.
No arguments with this pick. It's obviously a need that the Rams are going to have to address this spring, one way or another.
Like I said, treat a mock draft like a think piece. The takeaways here are which safety could fit with the Rams, and, more importantly, taking Clowney if they end up staying in the second spot.