State Of The Rams: A Draft Analysis
By Matt Moreno
Thank your lucky stars the Rams are back on track with their drafting. Thanks to Jeff Fisher and major front-office changes, the Rams emerged from countless years of terrible draft choices to one of the best classes in recent memory. Gone are the years of drafting the likes of Tye Hill, Jason Smith and Adam Carriker in the first rounds. Here are the years of double, first-round draft picks, courtesy of the Redskins.
Part of the “close-but-no-cigar” category is the offensive line. The move to get Jake Long was huge. Moving Rodger Saffold to the right side and keeping him happy is key. And, if the Miami Heat has taught sports fans anything, three great players out of five isn't bad. Center Scott Wells can hold his own if he stays healthy, but is an above average player at his best. If the Rams want that third amigo, and if OG Chance Warmack, is still on the board at No. 16, the Rams MUST take him. They have the potential to go from one of the worst offensive lines to one of the best.
Chances are he won’t be around, but it’s a no-brainer if he is there. He is the draft’s best run-blocking guard and a heavy hitter, two qualities the Rams are in need of. Other offensive guard options include OG Jonathan Cooper, who doesn't seem to carry the same ability as Warmack, but would be a very nice addition to help a notoriously inconsistent line. Sam Bradford has suffered more from a shoddy offensive line than from a lack of wide receivers.
The lack of safeties on the Rams' roster is scary. There was talk of Quintin Mikell returning after being released, but nothing has happened so far. Luckily for the Rams, this year’s safety class is filled with talent. S Kenny Vaccarro leads the draft class, with Eric Reid, Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien rounding out the crowd. Vaccarro is the guy to take with the first pick if Warmack is off the board, or with the second first-round pick. He has great size, great range and is a down-right smart player. He was a staple for the Texas Longhorns and is the type of player who can step into the NFL and play with the best from day one.
Losing Steven Jackson is tough, especially when he battled through many dismal seasons without complaining. RB Eddie Lacy could be called upon as a rookie replacement. If the Rams miss on getting Warmack or Cooper, Lacy is a must get with a first-round pick. His 5-foot-10 frame carries a weight of about 220 pounds of pure muscle. He had a great year as Alabama’s running back and seems poised to continue it in the pros. The Rams’ Daryl Richardson seems too fragile to handle every-down back duties and Isaiah Pead was virtually invisible last year. Lacy is the everyday guy that could fill the void Jackson left.
One area the Rams need to stay away from is wide receiver. Yes, there’s a lack of proven talent on the team right now. Yes, it has been that way for awhile. But, this is not the draft to do it; nor is it the time to do it. The Rams have had a vacancy at the “Big Play” No. 1 and No. 2 positions ever since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce left the team years ago. Chris Givens showed big-play ability and Brian Quick is in the process of developing. Quick’s height, at 6-foot-3, gives him the “push-your-weight-around” ability to be a top guy. Givens' size (6-foot) and quick feet gives him the ability to outrun most corners.
That’s why I don’t like the Rams taking a receiver in the first round.
WR Tavon Austin had a great pro day, clocking the second-fastest time in the 40-yard-dash for wide receivers. But his 5-foot-9 size makes him not much more than a quick slot player. WR Cordarrelle Patterson and WR Keenan Allen have also been linked to the Rams, but none have the “wow” factor linked to them like Justin Blackmon, A.J. Green, and Julio Jones did when they entered their respective drafts. This year's draft class seems more like a hogepodge of above average talent, but no A+ guys. The Rams have the talent in place to wait for another round before selecting a wideout.
There’s many ways for the Rams to go this draft and not many ways for them to go wrong. Nearly every position needs some kind of help. The Rams must find some stability on the offensive line and defensive secondary before addressing any other needs. Give Sam Bradford a consistent offensive line and he can even make Austin Pettis look good.