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Are the St. Louis Rams Eyeing a New Middle Linebacker in the 2015 Draft?

Draft Insider’s Tony Pauline hints that Rams will be targeting linebackers early in the 2015 NFL draft...

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

When identifying the St. Louis Rams’ needs in the 2015 offseason, [most] fans and experts alike peg offensive line, quarterback, and wide receiver as the team’s biggest priorities.

NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline, from Draft Insider, hints that word out of the NFL Combine is that the Rams could be leaning another direction...
That doesn’t change the fact that the Rams will [still] have to address the aforementioned positions; but it does mean they could have plans to do so in free agency.

So what would drafting a linebacker mean for the current players on their roster?

Outside linebacker Alec Ogletree is entering his third year in the NFL.  The Rams’ first round pick from 2012 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  This means the team could be targeting a successor for the Rams’ most tenured draft selection, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, or for veteran OLB JoLonn Dunbar.

In 2013, Laurinaitis signed a 5 year, $41.5mil contract Rams, that includes a $2mil signing bonus, and $13,62mil guaranteed.  His 2015 cap hit would $4.275mil, but cutting him would only result in $1.55mil in dead money.  Dunbar’s contract pays $1.345mil in 2015, and cutting him wouldn’t cost the Rams a penny.

Are the Rams, who drafted Laurinaitis in the second round in 2009, ready to part ways with their veteran mike linebacker? And if so, who could they be eyeing?

Eric Kendricks, UCLA

Denzel Perryman, Miami

Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State