We're just past the mid-way point of the 2015 NFL regular season. There's still a lot of football to play, with many teams still in the playoff hunt (including the Rams). 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 Eric Kush RG Cody Wichmann Brian Folkerts LG Garrett Reynolds RT Rob Havenstein Andrew Donnal LT Greg Robinson Isaiah Battle TE Lance Kendricks Cory Harkey TE Jared Cook Justice Cunningham WR Tavon Austin Wes Welker Bradley Marquez WR Kenny Britt Brian Quick RB Tre Mason Benny Cunningham RB Todd Gurley Chase Reynolds QB Case Keenum Nick Foles 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 Matt Longacre MLB James Laurinaitis Bryce Hager OLB Mark Barron Daren Bates OLB Akeem Ayers Cameron Lynch CB Janoris Jenkins Marcus Roberson CB Trumaine Johnson Lamarcus Joyner SS Tim McDonald Jr. Maurice Alexander FS Rodney McLeod Cody Davis Christian Bryant Practice Squad Injured Reserve IR-Designated To Return DT Doug Worthington CB E.J. Gaines OLB Alec Ogletree DT Louis Trinca-Pasat OG Rodger Saffold LB Zack Hodges WR Isiah Ferguson LB Matthew Wells OT Darrell Williams Reserve/Suspended CB Melvin White OG Jamon Brown CB Eric Patterson RB Trey Watts RB Malcolm Brown WR Stedman Bailey FB Zach Laskey WR Nick Toon OG David Arkin
St. Louis Rams 2016 Free Agents
The following 22 players are currently eligible for Free Agency in 2016 (after this season). ERFA's (Exclusive Rights Free Agents) have two or less accrued years in the league. RFA's (Restricted Free Agents) have three accrued years in the league. UFA's (Unrestricted Free Agents) have 4 or more accrued years in the league. In each instance, their contracts will have been fulfilled at the end of this season.
Position Player FA Status QB Case Keenum RFA RB Benny Cunningham RFA RB Chase Reynolds RFA TE Cory Harkey UFA TE Justice Cunningham ERFA WR Brian Quick UFA WR Wes Welker UFA C Tim Barnes UFA OL Eric Kush ERFA OL Brian Folkerts ERFA K Greg Zuerlein UFA DT Nick Fairley UFA DE Eugene Sims UFA DE William Hayes UFA DE Matt Longacre ERFA OLB Daren Bates RFA CB Janoris Jenkins UFA CB Trumaine Johnson UFA SS Mark Barron UFA FS Rodney McLeod UFA FS Christian Bryant ERFA FS Cody Davis RFA
Ranking The Rams' 2016 Positional Needs
Rank Position 1 Wide Receiver 2 Tight End 3 Center 4 Safety 5 Cornerback 6 Defensive End 7 Middle Linebacker 8 Defensive Tackle 9 Offensive Line 10 Placekicker
The Rams' 2016 positional needs are ranked using the following criteria: potential Free Agent losses, positions potentially in need of upgrades and assessing the possibility of existing roster players reaching their potential/ceiling.
Although it's tempting to include QB on the needs list, there's too much to sort out between now and the end of the season regards the position to give it serious consideration on this list. Nick Foles' contract extension and the presence of Sean Mannion may preclude the Rams from selecting a QB in the 2016 NFL Draft (or considering it to be a critical need). In my next mock draft, I'll explore the possibility of using one of the Rams' two 2nd rounds picks in 2016 to trade up in the first round and select one of QB Jared Goff or QB Paxton Lynch (it's a pity QB Josh Rosen is only a freshman).
2016 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams - 6 Rounds
The accompanying chart presents the Rams' 6 selections over 6 rounds in this 2016 NFL Mock Draft. The Rams forfeited their 5th round pick when they selected Isaiah Battle in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Supplemental Draft. Their 7th round selection was traded to the Houston Texans for QB Case Keenum. The Rams received Philadelphia's 2nd round pick in the Sam Bradford/Nick Foles trade. My preliminary calculations suggest the Rams will not be receiving any compensatory picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. The draft order (#13) is an estimate based on the Rams' current record.
For first time this spring, NFL expected to allow teams to begin trading compensatory draft picks, per NFL sources. Should be more trades.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 19, 2015
Round Position Player School 1.13 WR Laquon Treadwell Mississippi 2.45 DE Shawn Oakman Baylor 2.48 TE Hunter Henry Arkansas 3.77 C Dan Voltz Wisconsin 4.109 FS Deon Bush Miami (Fla.) 6.173 WR Keyarris Garrett Tulsa
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. Stedman Bailey's future with the Rams may be in doubt after a second suspension for violation of the NFL substance abuse policy. The Rams' wide receiver corps could end up being a little thin after the 2015 season. Treadwell sits atop my early WR board. Watching him in action reminds me of a couple of players (in some respects): Anquan Boldin and Dez Bryant. An injury in 2014 and lack of blazing speed might hold down Treadwell's draft stock enough to keep him outside the top-12 come draft day. Treadwell measures in at 6'2" - 220.
Alternate Pick: WR - Michael Thomas - Ohio State
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 selecting defensive linemen early in the draft (three first round picks in the past five years). After devoting virtually the entire 2015 draft on the offense, Jeff Fisher will be chomping at the bit to add another stud to the Rams' elite defense. 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. Oakman may slide back into the early second round due to minor off-field issues.
Alternate Pick: G/T - Vadal Alexander - LSU
Jared Cook is scheduled to have an $8.3 million salary cap hit in 2016. He could become a cap casualty if the terms of his contract aren't renegotiated. Cory Harkey is eligible for Free Agency after the season. The Rams could be looking for Tight End help in the draft. Henry may be the top tight end prospect in the draft. He combines size (6'5" - 253) with toughness and athleticism; the complete package for an NFL tight end. Henry is a mismatch in coverage and is used as both an in-line and move tight end by the Razorbacks. The Rams will covet his willingness and capability as a blocker.
Alternate Pick: S/LB - Su'a Cravens - USC
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).
Alternate Pick: TE - Jake Butt - Michigan
The Rams will have four safeties eligible for Free Agency after this season: Mark Barron, Cody Davis, Christian Bryant 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.
Alternate Pick: C - Evan Boehm - Missouri
The Rams under Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are quite familiar with the concept of double-dipping at WR in the NFL Draft (Brian Quick/Chris Givens in 2012; Tavon Austin/Stedman Bailey in 2013). Garrett has prototypical size (6'3"-221), long arms and good leaping ability. He's one of my early sleeper picks in the 2016 NFL Draft (as is the alternate selection Antonio Morrison).
Alternate Pick: ILB - Antonio Morrison - Florida
Laquon Treadwell: Great move and great one-handed catch