After the cornucopia of draft picks, stemming from the RGIII trade, it is a bit sobering (alarming, to the more high strung), to see the Rams with just five total picks in the upcoming draft. Whereas in the last couple of years a pick could be whiffed and then dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders, this year- each and every one must count. Les Snead and Jeff Fisher have to take deadly aim and get it right. Do so and January football may just come to the "Gateway to the West"...get it wrong and you may just want to update your resume.
The good news comes along when you ask the question- Just what do the Rams need?
The answer- not much.
Despite some misses in the Snead/Fisher era (Isaiah Pead), the bounty of picks from both the famous RGIII trade and indigenous ones have yielded a team with a lot of talent. Gaping holes are apparent, but there are not many of them. Plugging them is surely in the forefront of the Rams front office strategy.
The Big Three
Everybody loves the EJ Gaines Show- a 6th round draft pick, who started all year and played exceptionally. Sadly perhaps, that is not the norm. 5th through 7th round draft picks are usually depth players and special teams contributors- that is, if they make the roster at all. Hope for the best of course, but these players are never really expected to produce much right away, especially not day one. It is instead, the first three rounds, where teams can and do expect difference makers and that is our focus today.
So, who should the Rams acquire in the first three rounds? Which positions are true needs and which players best fit with those needs? Will a best-player-available strategy work, or will a compromise need/best available solution be the order of the day?
The consensus view is the the Rams need offensive line help, especially in the interior, a quarterback and quite possibly an outside linebacker. Those are listed in no particular order and subject to the happenings of free agency, naturally. At the moment, that is how things stand, however. When we get to the players here in a moment, much will depend on the looming combine. I will update this article afterwards, since some players will rise and others will fall accordingly.
The Rams first pick- Round one, Pick 10
These are the players widely considered to go in the top 15-
These are presented in no particular order, simply as the most recognized players likely to go in the first 15 picks. With the Rams picking at #10, then obviously 9 of these players would be gone. Depending on how the first nine picks play out, the Rams may have a wide choice- a big ugly, with a mean streak or a pretty boy ball chucker, an athletic edge-setter with unlimited ceiling or a wideout with sticky hands.
Tantalizing, isn’t it? But there can be only one.
As Les Snead hears the announcement of the NY Giants pick at number nine, he glances down at the tightly gripped slip of paper in his sweaty palm (this time in order of choice)...
1. Marcus Mariota*
2. Brandon Scherff
3. Vic Beasley
4. La’el Collins
5. Amari Cooper
*more on the quarterback position, shortly
There is in fact, no guarantee that any of these players will be available when the Rams are on the clock, but the odds are good that one of them will be and each of these has a chance to make a real impact this year. The kind of players with the real possibility of Defensive or Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
As much as Rams fans love their defensive line and rightly so, it is time to take a rest on that and bow to the Gods of Need. Fortunately, need and BPA will be closely aligned at #10 overall.
The Rams second pick- Round two, Pick 9
The players, expected to be taken from #25 to #40 overall
So, once again the Giants have made their selection and Les Snead looks at his now grimy and barely legible scrap of paper, as he nervously lights his 47th cigarette for the day...
1. Garrett Grayson QB Colorado St
Sam Bradford will start for the 2015 season. The promotion of Frank Cignetti to offensive coordinator sealed that deal. Jeff Fisher will do his best to give Cignetti every tool he needs to succeed and that means Bradford. Have no doubt that "bringing in competition" will happen, whether through free agency and/or the draft, but dollars to donuts, Sam will be the starting signal caller...barring injury.
If Marcus Mariota is available at number 10, the Rams have to take him. The fan base, knowing the problems at quarterback recently, would revolt if he was passed over and the fact is he does have the potential to be a franchise type guy. He has shown consistent improvement over his collegiate career and he has a lot of room to grow. With some grooming, he may just be ‘elite’ He would, at minimum make for a viable backup+ to jersey numero ocho. He is, however, unlikely to be available with the 10th pick.
"Famous Jameis" could be and should be safely passed over at #10. He may be, as the scouts claim, the most "NFL ready" of all quarterbacks in this draft, but he displays poor decision making both on and off the field. Worse, in my opinion, he seems to have already hit his ceiling, which would be great if he was John Elway. Unless he drops like a stone in the draft, I see no reason to bother...especially not with a top ten.
Expect a Bortles-esque rise out of Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson, then expect Derek Carr type performance next year...providing he gets playing time, of course. If he is still there at pick 41- Pull. That. Trigger. Don’t worry about "overdrafting" because he will not be there when the Rams pick again at #72. Let history be our guide as narrated by one of TST’s own-
The only thing that made me cringe was the mention of Rok Watkins and Isaiah Pead. How would the Rams have known?? They knew. Their target was Bobby Wagner at 45. They got cute. Wagner was there at 45. They instead decided to trade down 5 spots to get an additional 5th round pick, figuring Wagner would still be there at 50. And poof, Wagner was gone at 50, to Seattle of all teams. Then they compounded the error by selecting Pead instead of Lavonte David, and Rok in the 5th. They don’t get a pass from me on this one.
-Frank "Dubs" Dobozy commenting on another article
Garrett Grayson has his weak points like they all do. Staring down his receivers, comes to mind and no one would call him "dual threat" but like Mariota, he is a student of the game and obviously learns. He has a solid arm, if not a howitzer and he is tough both mentally and physically. Had he ended up in a school with a more prestigious football pedigree and thus benefited from a higher level of coaching, he would likely be mentioned as a first rounder...and that could still happen. The danger for the Rams, is that Grayson's draft stock might rise too high.
Keep your eyes on this one.
The Rams 3rd pick, Round three, Pick 8
Fifteen players expected to be taken around #72
This time, Chicago makes their pick in front of St. Louis and Les has been admonished for smoking in the building by Roger Goodell, so he slaps an entire pack of NicoDerm in his armpit and reaches into his pocket for the crumpled and desiccated cheat sheet. It is now destroyed, but fortunately, Jeff Fisher made a copy and quickly hands it to him. Hands trembling, he now reads...
1. Hroniss Grasu
2. Lorenzo Mauldin
3. Jake Fisher
4. Hauoli Kikaha
5. Tre Jackson
At this point, the draft will be in a high state of flux and anything can happen. It is very likely to have one or more, previously top rated prospects fall this far into the third round. It is equally likely that a couple of these will no longer be available. It will also depend on who the Rams chose in the first two rounds. If Vic Beasley was taken in the first, then obviously neither Kikaha nor Mauldin are needed. Several very desirable players, such as Auburn center Reese Dismukes, is expected to go just before the Rams pick at #72 and a few more like Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio are expected to be just past that.
Navigating the shifting sands at this point is difficult indeed, but impact players on both sides of the ball are available and the Rams have to make their first three shots count. The players are there, the picks are aligned and the final pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.