We're a quarter way through the 2015 NFL regular season and just beginning to find out how teams might fare over the long haul to the playoffs. In the meantime, team scouts and general managers of all 32 teams are already feverishly planning for the 2016 NFL Draft in April. It's never too early to take a peek at college football players, assess potential Rams needs and speculate about who the Rams may be interested in drafting come April.
St. Louis Rams Current Roster & Depth Chart
C Tim Barnes Demetrius Rhaney RG Rodger Saffold Garrett Reynolds LG Jamon Brown Cody Wichmann RT Rob Havenstein Andrew Donnal LT Greg Robinson Darrell Williams TE Lance Kendricks Cory Harkey TE Jared Cook WR Tavon Austin Brian Quick Bradley Marquez WR Kenny Britt Stedman Bailey RB Tre Mason Benny Cunningham RB Todd Gurley Chase Reynolds QB Nick Foles Case Keenum Sean Mannion PK Greg Zuerlein P John Hekker LS Jake McQuaide DT Aaron Donald Nick Fairley DT Michael Brockers Ethan Westbrooks DE Chris Long William Hayes DE Robert Quinn Eugene Sims MLB James Laurinaitis Bryce Hager OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar Daren Bates Alec Ogletree OLB Akeem Ayers Cameron Lynch CB Janoris Jenkins Marcus Roberson CB Trumaine Johnson Lamarcus Joyner SS T.J. McDonald Mark Barron Maurice Alexander FS Rodney McLeod Cody Davis Christian Bryant Practice Squad Roster Exemption Injured Reserve DE Matt Longacre RB Trey Watts CB E.J. Gaines DT Louis Trinca-Pasat WR Isiah Ferguson DT Doug Worthington CB Melvin White CB Eric Patterson RB Malcolm Brown FB Zach Laskey WR Nick Toon TE Justice Cunningham OT Isaiah Battle
St. Louis Rams 2016 Free Agents
Position Player FA Status QB Case Keenum RFA RB Benny Cunningham RFA RB Chase Reynolds RFA TE Cory Harkey UFA WR Brian Quick UFA C Tim Barnes UFA K Greg Zuerlein UFA DT Nick Fairley UFA DE Eugene Sims UFA DE William Hayes UFA OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar UFA OLB Daren Bates RFA CB Janoris Jenkins UFA CB Trumaine Johnson UFA SS Mark Barron UFA FS Rodney McLeod UFA FS Cody Davis RFA
Ranking The Rams' 2016 Positional Needs
Position Wide Receiver Defensive End Safety Cornerback Center Defensive Tackle Tight End
The Rams' 2016 positional needs are ranked using the following criteria: potential Free Agent losses, potential positions in need of upgrades and assessing the possibility of existing roster players reaching their potential/ceiling.
2016 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams - 4 Rounds
The accompanying chart presents the Rams' 5 selections over 4 rounds in this 2016 NFL Mock Draft:
Round Position Player School 1.16 DE Shawn Oakman Baylor 2.48 WR Michael Thomas Ohio State 2.52 CB KeiVarae Russell Notre Dame 3.80 C Dan Voltz Wisconsin 4.112 FS Deon Bush Miami (Fla.)
William Hayes and Eugene Sims are eligible for Free Agency in 2016. Chris Long will be 31 in March and is scheduled to have a $14.25 million salary cap hit in 2016 (the final year of his contract). It would come as no surprise if the Rams continued their recent history of drafting defensive linemen in the first round (three in the past five years). Shawn Oakman is a physically imposing man (6'8" - 280) who is freakishly athletic for his size. Oakman is by no means a finished product but has a very high ceiling. The Rams love drafting dynamic athletes with higher ceilings.
Brian Quick becomes a Free Agent after the 2015 season. Will the Rams attempt to re-sign him? Chris Givens was traded for a 7th round draft pick. The Rams' wide receiver corps could end up being a little thin after the 2015 season. Thomas' combination of size (6'3" - 210), route-running skills and soft, dependable hands make him an attractive option for the Rams in the upcoming draft. His stock could rise rapidly between now and April.
The Rams will head into the offseason with much uncertainty surrounding the cornerback positions. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are eligible for Free Agency in 2016, and E.J. Gaines faces a long rehabilitation process after a season-ending Lisfranc injury. Russell missed the 2014 season due to academic issues. As noted by CBS Sports draft expert Dane Brugler before the college season began:
"Russell is a good-sized specimen with the profile to match up with bigger, physical targets as well as smaller receivers who rely on speed. He is a willing run defender with NFL-level ball skills, leading the Irish in passes defended (nine) in 2013, the last time he took the field for Notre Dame."
The Rams devoted plenty of draft capital to the offensive line in the 2015 NFL Draft. The one position they neglected to address in the process was center. Tim Barnes is eligible for Free Agency in 2016 and is no better than an average player. Backup Demetrius Rhaney is an unknown quantity. Voltz would represent an upgrade at the position and comes from a school known as an offensive line factory. Voltz follows in the distinguished footsteps of Peter Konz and Travis Frederick. Voltz excels at both run blocking and pass protection and has the size necessary to compete at a high level in the NFL (6'3" - 312).
The Rams will have three safeties eligible for Free Agency after this season: Mark Barron, Cody Davis and Rodney McLeod. The Rams will need to add depth to a unit sure to be depleted by Free Agent losses. Bush is a tall (6' 1"-205), physical and athletic specimen who should have little trouble making the leap to the NFL. The Hurricanes use him all over the field (on the blitz and in both run support and coverage). Just the type of safety the Rams covet.