COMMENTARY | Who are the St. Louis Rams going to select in the 2014 NFL draft? It's a bit early to know for sure, but head coach Jeff Fisher has his preferences for positions.
With two first-rounders (for now), the Rams should be able to land two quality players, with one of them being elite.
Fisher-lead teams had 17 first-round draft picks in his career, and the positional breakdown is as follow:
Running back: 2
Wide Receiver: 3
Defensive End: 3
Defensive tackle: 2
Defensive back: 3
Noticeably absent: offensive linemen. Fisher has never had his general manager choose an offensive lineman in the first round. With Jake Long's knee injury toward the end of the season and Rodger Saffold's impending free agency, that could change.
Jake Matthews of Texas A&M is clearly the best offensive lineman in this draft. He's an easy Top 5 pick and could go as early as No. 2 to the Rams. But it wouldn't be surprising if the Rams were to pass on him.
Quarterback is interesting, but there aren't any can't-miss prospects in this draft. This isn't Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin of two years ago. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Fresno State's Derek Carr are nice prospects, but they aren't Top 2 selections.
Wide receiver is a big need, as in the Rams need a big guy. Tavon Austin could be one of the best slot receivers in the league in due time, but he isn't the big split-end/flanker the Rams need. Austin Pettis is a possession receiver, Chris Givens regressed and is more of a deep threat and Brian Quick isn't performing as expected thus far.
While a guy like Clemson's Sammy Watkins isn't the biggest receiver (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), he's more physical than anyone the Rams have. A&M's Mike Evans is both big and physical -- but he also has a higher "bust" potential than most players in this draft.
With potential NFL Defensive Player of the Year Robert Quinn and former No. 2 overall pick Chris Long, the Rams are set at starting defensive end. William Hayes and Eugene Sims are fine backups, and the Rams have a great rotation of pass-rushers.
Having said that, Jadeveon Clowney is the best prospect in this draft and if he's there at No. 2 -- and no team blows the Rams away with a trade offer -- he should be their selection. The New York Giants won two Super Bowls in the last seven years because of their relentless pass rush. Clowney would give the Rams the best pass-rushing trio around. Seeing as they already have the best duo, it'd be an embarrassment of riches for the Rams.
After drafting Michael Brockers two years ago and signing Kendall Langford to a free agent contract, defensive tackle isn't a huge need for the Rams. With no Clowney-like prospect at DT, the Rams can probably cross this position off their first-round list.
Alec Ogletree performed like a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate after being taken in the first round last year. James Laurinaitis is one of the best middle linebackers in the league. The strong-side linebacker position is an area of concern for the Rams, but despite Fisher choosing two first-round linebackers, the need isn't that great.
The Rams need a safety -- there's no denying that. Alabama's Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix is the only safety with even a mid-first-round grade by most accounts. If they can land him at No. 13, that'd be fine. If not, safety is a mid-round possibility.
When Cortland Finnegan was signed, it was expected he'd be a solid corner for at least a few more years. His first year in St. Louis was solid, his second was an unmitigated disaster. He's on the chopping block, making cornerback a true need. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert would be a nice choice at 13, if he's still there.
The Rams' first priority seems to be trading out of the No. 2 spot, which worked well in the past. They won't get the ransom the Washington Redskins paid for Griffin, but they could definitely land a first-rounder in 2015 if they're trading with the right team. That might be for the best.
Looking at Fisher's draft history, it's a safe bet the Rams could go defensive line and wide receiver (not necessarily in that order) with their two picks.
In reality, it'd be nice to see the Rams just take the best prospect available at their draft spots, with the player's position (almost) notwithstanding.
Is anyone else upset the NFL moved the draft to May?
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers 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 St. Louis Rams for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
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