Mel Kiper, your favorite mocker's favorite mocker, updated his mock draft today amid the wheelings and dealings of free agency to coincide with a conference call earlier today.
There wasn't a ton specific to the Rams in the call, but we did get a couple of mentions (thanks to Dan Kadar from MTD for covering the draft as well as anyone could ask for and hooking up the SBN fam with notes from the call)
Kiper said Clowney is still a top three talent, but not to St. Louis. He thinks if Houston passes a team will want to trade with the Rams.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) March 13, 2014
Kiper thinks the Rams could be active as well, moving down from No. 2 or up for No. 13.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) March 13, 2014
He thinks the Rams will be a "trending" team after the draft if they can keep Sam Bradford upright.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) March 13, 2014
I'm confused as to what Kiper was specifically intending with that second tweet from Dan, but the general intent is there: the Rams could be bouncing around the draft order in two months. Shouldn't be surprising given (a) the Rams' recent draft history or (b) the frequency of early trades in the new CBA.
In any case, the call gave way to the release of his new mock draft behind ESPN's insider paywall, and it's certainly got some unique twists...starting at #1 overall.
(Note: It's been a while since we were this close to the draft without any real sense of who would go first. Soak this up.)
Kiper has the Texans leading off with Buffalo LB Khalil Mack. I don't think I've seen a mock lead off with Mack, and for good reason. He'd be only the third linebacker to go #1 overall in NFL history along with Aundray Bruce in 1988 and Tom Cousineau 1979. But really, it'd be a bit of a dream scenario for the Rams. Every QB, every OT and Jadeveon Clowney would all be up there as trade bait unless the Rams are dead set on a guy. In any case, it leaves the best options for the Rams to cull through.
So with Mack gone (and with a tradeless mock), Kiper has the Rams going with:
Greg Robinson - OT, Auburn
Even with the strange change of direction on Rodger Saffold, given the concerns about Jake Long's ability to stay healthy, starter ability at tackle is still a major question, and the Rams can't afford to be thin up front in 2014. I think this is an obvious spot where a trade could happen, but if you have the chance to draft a potential star at tackle in the same year you need to find out if the QB you've paid a lot of money is worth it, you may not want to overthink it. Robinson can be a special player, and the Rams would improve up front with him around, starting in Week 1.
Clowney goes at 3 before the familiar offensive names begin to be plucked away from the Rams sitting at 13. No huge surprises in between our picks, so at 13, the Rams select:
HaHa Clinton-Dix - S, Alabama
The Rams need another wide receiver, but if Evans isn't on the board here, they could also address another big need and grab Clinton-Dix to come in and start at free safety. Clinton-Dix has great range after playing center field in Nick Saban's Cover 1, and will come in ready to make an impact in coverage. Obviously, depending on the grade, St. Louis could also go with a player like Odell Beckham Jr. or Marqise Lee at this spot.
Of course, I'm not thrilled about getting out of the 1st without a WR, but I get the case for Robinson and both Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are gone in this scenario before our second pick. So be it.
Nothing all that peculiar in the rest of the 1st for me save for Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland at 31 to the Broncos. And I'll throw it out there now - I think Cyrus Kouandjio could fall waaaaay deep in the draft because of his combine medical checks. Might be a late day 2 right tackle option if he's still around for the Rams.
In any case, let's take a break from Saffoldanalia (a version of Bacchanalia but way more family friendly...the ancients really were some sickos) and talk draft.