This has been an off-year for me during the NFL off-season. On a typical year I am scouring the internet on a daily basis for the latest news and information in regards to the NFL draft. It seems like I peruse every single mock draft there is, listen to every debate on ESPN between Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, record and re-watch the combine on the NFL Network. But this off-season there hasn’t been the same gusto for me, and I am sure for many St. Louis Rams fans. We are currently in limbo with the Rams. Will they stay or will they go? For that reason I have found it hard to go all in on the team as usual.
But still I am a Rams fan, at least until Kroenke makes his move to improve his portfolio and takes the Rams to Los Angeles. So with that said let’s take a look at the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft. First for my home team, the Rams. Entering the off-season the Rams needed to address their quarterback situation due to the fact that their incumbent starter Sam Bradford missed the last year and a half. Cue the Rams making a splash this off-season by trading their former “franchise” quarterback to the Eagles for Nick Foles. The best part of the trade, it freed up cap money for the Rams this season. The bad news, they did not do anything with that money like oh say sign an offensive lineman. The trade still didn’t address the quarterback issue because Foles is anything but a sure thing behind center. One superb season for Foles was followed by missing most of the year to injury, geez that sounds familiar.
Anyways as the Rams currently stand they are in need of offensive line, I mean seriously I know that Paul Boudreau is widely regarded as a great offensive line coach but right now they have two legitimate NFL starters and three others who have combined for 31 starts over their teams 96 games played while in the NFL. As mentioned the Rams did not address their quarterback situation. Will Foles be closer to his 2013 season or was that an aberration? Or will Foles be closer to his 2014 season? The trade did nothing to answer their QB questions but rather changed the name from Bradford to Foles. The Rams still lack a game breaking wide receiver on the team, but as I have mentioned before in Jeff Fisher’s system that isn’t a priority. The Rams could also use help at corner back, as can any team really with the NFL’s emphasis on the passing game.
After going 6-10 last season , a year when many fans and pundits predicted the Rams would finally take the next step, the Rams have the #10 overall pick in the NFL draft. This the ninth consecutive year the Rams will have a selection in the top 15 picks. (Side note: Do you know how many Pro Bowlers have come from those picks? Two. Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald. That’s not a good rate). So where do the Rams go with their first round pick? Let’s examine.
Some Rams scenarios have the Rams avoiding taking an offensive lineman with their first round pick for a second straight year and instead going with a glamor position; i.e quarterback or wide receiver. The Rams have already been burned by taking a WR early in the draft, and as previously mentioned that position wouldn’t fully reach full value on this Rams team as it is designed. So as much as I have been hoping for Amari Cooper over the last two years, I don’t see it happening. As far as quarterbacks go, I don’t see the Rams trading up for either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. Although the Rams are coming off their eighth straight losing season the Rams do appear to be close to being a competitive team week in and week out. Trading future picks to move up doesn’t make since. However if Mariota slips, which I don’t think he will, he would be an intriguing choice.
The obvious choice is offensive line. With just two solid starters on the roster, the Rams need to start building in the trenches. The sad part is some considered the Rams line last year a possible strength but with Jake Long (what a horrible signing), Scott Wells, and Davin Joseph all being cut and an over performing Joe Barksdale over valuing himself, the Rams are scary thin. If Iowa’s Brandon Scherff is there, I go with him. I know analysts say he fits better as a guard; and guards shouldn’t be taken that high. Some people want the Rams to take Andrus Peat because he is a true tackle. But Scherff is the best lineman regardless of position in this draft and you need a starting guard. I don’t care if he doesn’t fit the “value” chart, if he turn to be an All-Pro starter for the Rams, TAKE HIM.
NFL Draft Notes
- I would stay away from Jameis Winston. Even if you take out his off the field issues, which is a BIG if since he is a quarterback and that is the leader position for any team, he still threw 17 interceptions last season which should be of concern for any coach.
- If I am Chip Kelly, I go all in with Mariota. I understand they may not have the pieces to move up that far right now. But obviously Kelly feels his system is the key to success. Mariota is his QB from college, the ideal fit for his system. In the NFL if you get a franchise quarterback, you are set for years. So it doesn’t matter if you give up future picks if you get your man. Wouldn’t you give up three #1’s for Andrew Luck? If Kelly believes in his system and in Mariota, do it!
- Last year’s success of the wide receivers drafted, along with the rules making passing more favorable has made the WR spot the new hot position. My guy is Amari Cooper. Nothing but a solid, reliable, wide out with game breaking skill that knows what it takes to win. I know some rate Kevin White higher because, but with upside comes a bigger bust potential. And White, despite his size and speed, did not put up numbers until his senior year and this at West Virginia which is known for g WR stats.
- Return of the Back…for the first time in two years it appears a running back will be selected in the first round. And for the first time since 2010 we may have multiple RB’s chosen in the first round. Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon will likely hear their names called on the first night.
- The following players are my sleeper picks. These are guys who will be taken outside of the first round but should still have an impact for their team.
- Shaq Thompson- a flat-out athlete; played running back, linebacker, and safety. Where he fits in the NFL I don’t know, but I do know he is the definition of a football player.
- Eric Kendricks- the NFL loves pass rushers and Kendricks is not one of those so he gets knocked. But what he is, is a tackling machine. And last I checked that is still important on defense.
- Dorial Green-Beckham- Yes I may be biased on him because I am a Mizzou fan. He is raw and needs to work on his route running, something that limited his time as a freshman. His size, speed, and take over against Tennessee two years ago, he sold me on his potential.
- Bryce Petty- here is a guy that went from possibly being a #1 pick overall two years ago to slipping this year in talent evaluations. But from what I have seen in watching his games he throws one of the best deep balls. So forget all the talk about throwing out of shotgun because nearly 70% of passes in the NFL last year came out of shotgun.
- Duke Johnson- ever since I first saw him burst onto the scene as a freshman against Boston College in 2012 with 135 yards on seven carries I liked this guy. Perfect zone scheme runner in the NFL.