COMMENTARY | November and December are traditionally the months when St. Louis Rams' fans start looking toward the NFL draft -- a sad reality since the "Greatest Show on Turf" days.
Thanks to the Washington Redskins' ineptitude, the Rams are in an excellent position to land an elite talent in the 2014 draft. If the season were to end today, the Rams would hold the No. 2 pick, giving them their choice of anyone except Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
But the Rams could still be players for him, if they either land the No. 1 pick or the Houston Texans pass on him.
First, let's identify the Rams' needs. In no order: Quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, guard, defensive tackle, cornerback and safety. I'm going to identify some quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback and safety prospects here.
With almost anyone available at No. 2, the Rams should just go with the best player available, regardless of position. The Rams also hold the No. 13 pick at the moment.
Sam Bradford was a great prospect. Bradford is a solid NFL quarterback, but he might not be the guy to lead the Rams to deep playoff runs in the future. This year's quarterback class seems much deeper than recent years, and if the Rams aren't sold on Bradford, they should consider a QB at No. 2.
Bridgewater could be there, but others like Fresno State's Derek Carr, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and UCLA's Brett Hundley. I'm not a fan of Manziel, but Carr or Hundley would be interesting. No. 2 might be a touch high for them, but the Rams have shown a willingness to move up and down in the NFL draft in recent years.
The Rams must decide if they think any of the available QBs are better than Bradford in the future. If they think so, then they should take one and find a way to move Bradford. If they can't, they could release him without him ever reaching his potential with the team (which is risky).
Texas A&M's Mike Evans is the class of the 2014 wide receivers, but he's also inconsistent. Still, at 6'5, 225 pounds, Evans has the ability to be the big No. 1 receiver the Rams truly need. No. 2 is too high for him and he probably won't be there at No. 13. But guys who could be there at No. 13 include Clemson's Sammy Watkins and USC's Marqise Lee.
Man, there are a lot of Texas A&M prospects here, and Jake Matthews is the guy I'm looking at here. Former Aggie Luke Joeckel was the No. 2 pick last year, and Matthews isn't as good a prospect as he was, so No. 2 is too high for Matthews right now. But he's the best tackle prospect and the Rams would be smart to look at him. Michigan's Taylor Lewan could be in play for the No. 13 pick as well. He's taller than Matthews and might fare better as a run-blocker than Matthews. Tennessee's Antonio Richardson might be the best selection, though, as he's 330-plus pounds and might be the best run-blocking tackle available early in the draft. With Jake Long entrenched at left tackle and Rodger Saffold a free agent (and better suited for guard), the Rams could look to draft a right tackle early.
Cortland Finnegan has been an unmitigated disaster for the Rams and Janoris Jenkins has regressed some since his rookie season (when he was good, but not great). Unfortunately, the cornerback class isn't great. TCU's Jason Verrett is probably the best available. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert could be in play. He has better size than Verrett, but neither look like Top 13 picks as of now.
The best of the safety class is a guy with a ridiculous name -- Haha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix is a big safety at 6'1, 209 pounds and would help to shore up the deep secondary for the Rams. He's the only guy worth a look in the first round. Unless the Rams find someone in free agency or hit big on a late draft pick, Clinton-Dix might be the best option for them in the offseason.
Player rankings will change before the draft. Some of these guys could shoot up with offseason workouts and the combine. Some guys could plummet. It's an inexact science, but the Rams have two first round picks and must hit on them if they want to become really relevant in the NFC.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Rams from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Los Angeles Dodgers' blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast and writes about the Dodgers for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- NFL draft
- Sam Bradford