The St. Louis Rams are already sitting pretty in the Fan Mock Draft, having selected tackle Greg Robinson from Auburn to play opposite Jake Long and solidify the offensive line with the second overall pick (which the team acquired from the Washington Redskins as part of the 2012 trade for the right to take Robert Griffin III). Now, with their own pick in the 2014 NFL Draft at 13th overall, the Rams must decide whether they want to continue to add to the offense or bolster a defense that helped keep the team afloat in 2013, ranking 13th overall and 15th overall in points and yards allowed, respectively. The Rams were also third-best in the league at sacking the quarterback (53.0 total) and tied for ninth in turnovers forced (27 total).
The Rams’ 2013 season was thrown into flux following an ACL tear suffered by quarterback Sam Bradford in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Bradford was having his best season as a pro and was replaced by Kellen Clemens. The Rams’ passing attack, which was not exactly prolific prior to the injury, suffered mightily with Clemens at the helm and ended the season ranked 27th in the NFL (195.3 yards per game). The Rams were quiet in free agency, but did sign veteran quarterback Shaun Hill as an insurance policy this offseason.
Though the passing offense was a weakness, the Rams’ running game was effective and took off after rookie sixth-round pick Zac Stacy became the starter. Stacy had 250 carries for 973 yards and seven touchdowns. His 973 yards ranked 14th in the NFL and second among all rookies. He will be relied upon as the workhorse running back in 2014 and likely backed up by Benny Cunningham, who flashed potential as a rookie in 2013 with 5.6 yards per carry on 47 attempts.
The Rams selected wide receiver Tavon Austin with their first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and despite some moments of brilliance both as a receiver and returner, he struggled with consistency and the offense did not find enough ways to get him the ball. Austin Pettis and Chris Givens round out the top-three of a wide receiver corps that also includes Stedman Bailey, Austin’s teammate at West Virginia and a fellow rookie in 2013, and Brian Quick. Tight end Jared Cook, a free agent signing in 2013, led the team in receiving across the board with 51 catches for 671 yards and five touchdowns. The Rams took a low-risk flier on talented, but oft injured and troublesome wide receiver Kenny Britt as a free agent.
The defense is led by ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, who was second in the NFL in sacks in 2013 with 19.5. Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers patrol the middle of the defensive line and are stout run stuffers. Alec Ogletree, the team’s second first-round pick in 2013, is a rangy weakside linebacker and led the team in total tackles with 119, edging out veteran middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, who had 116. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson form a tandem of young, talented cornerbacks, with Rodney McLeod, who emerged as a playmaker in 2013, and T.J. McDonald as the safeties.
What will the Rams do at the 13th overall pick? Do they pull off somewhat of a shocker and draft the future replacement for Sam Bradford with Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Fresno State quarterback David Carr still on the board? Do they continue to reinforce the offensive line by taking, say, Zack Martin of Notre Dame? Do they draft yet another wide receiver – Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee – to add to the arsenal? Perhaps they focus on the defensive side of the ball and draft Laurinaitis’ future replacement in Alabama’s C.J. Mosley? Safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are still on the board, as well, and both would look good paired with McLeod.
As always, you make the call.