2013 Rams draft team needs: Finding playmakers on both sides of the ball the key for St. Louis

John Harris
Special to Yahoo! Sports


LAST SEASON Rush Offense - 107.1 ypg (19th)
Pass Offense - 221.9 ypg (18th)
Total Offense - 329.0 ypg (23rd)
Scoring Offense - 18.7 ppg (25th)
Rush Defense - 117.5 ypg (15th)
Pass Defense - 225.1 ypg (15th)
Total Defense - 342.6 ypg (14th)
Scoring Defense - 21.8 ppg (14th) MOST PRESSING NEEDS Offense: Guard, offensive playmaker and running back
Defense: Outside linebacker and safety










Quarterback The Draft Board



4th round Landry Jones, Oklahoma (6-4, 225)
Zac Dysert, Miami (OH) (6-3, 231) 5th round Colby Cameron, La. Tech (6-2, 212) 6th round Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt (6-1, 211) 7th round Sean Renfree, Duke (6-3, 219)


Sam Bradford was The Man, and will be for a long time. He hasn't grown quite as expected, but hasn't been a complete disaster either. This is the first season he's been with the same offensive coordinator in consecutive years. Although the team is going to ride Bradford as long as he can handle the position, it has little depth. The team needs to sign a veteran free agent - Kellen Clemens, last year's backup, or another available experienced guy. The team should also look for a young quarterback to compete for that backup spot.

Jones was once Bradford's backup at Oklahoma, but never developed the way Bradford did. He put up extraordinary numbers in four years as a starter, but struggled against pressure. Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay's Aaron, is a gamer and does a little bit of everything pretty well, but nothing exceptional.



Running Back The Draft Board



2nd round Eddie Lacy, Alabama (5-11, 231)
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (5-10, 205)
Joe Randle (6-0, 204) 3rd round Andre Ellington, Clemson (5-10, 199)
Montee Ball, Wisconsin (5-11, 214)
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (5-9, 214) 4th round Mike Gillislee, Florida (5-11, 208) 5th round Jawan Jamison, Rutgers (5-7, 203)




Steven Jackson signed with Atlanta, leaving a massive void at running back. Daryl Richardson, a seventh-round selection in 2012, piled up nearly 500 yards on fewer than 100 carries as Jackson's backup. However, he struggled over the second half of the season. Last year's second-round selection Isaiah Pead got a late start, but the Rams believe he can compete to be the No. 1 back on this team.

Lacy is pure power with a ballerina's spin move, a complex combination of skills. He resembles Jackson more than any other, but hasn't been able to work out this offseason due to a bum hamstring. Franklin's style is a combination of Cadillac Williams's relentlessness, LeSean McCoy's quick feet and a dash of Marshawn Lynch's power. Ball is an intriguing fit, given his patience and his production in the Badgers' power scheme. If the Rams eschew selecting a running back until the fourth round and find Gillislee, he'd be a steal.



Wide Receiver The Draft Board



1st round Tavon Austin, West Virginia (5-9, 174) 3rd round Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (6-0, 205)
Marquise Goodwin, Texas (5-9, 183) 5th round Ace Sanders, South Carolina (5-7, 173)


Two of the team's top three receivers, Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola, signed to play in the AFC East. After losing those two, it'd be hard not to target receiver in the draft. The team selected Chris Givens and Brian Quick in last year's draft and they'll be given every opportunity to succeed, alongside No. 3 receiver Austin Pettis. The Rams also added WR/TE hybrid Jared Cook to exploit additional areas. What Amendola offered Bradford from the slot will be sorely missed. Fortunately, there's a wonderful option to replace him in the first round.

Austin appears to be a perfect fit as a slot receiver. He can help the running game with jet sweeps out of the gun and create mismatches. No one in this class can match his quickness or his ability to make significant yardage after the catch. Sanders isn't as fast as Austin, but he's lightning quick, shifty and difficult to tackle in space - a great value in the fifth round or later.



Tight End


The team spent a ton of money for Cook (five years, $35.1M) in free agency and spent a second-round pick in 2011 on former Wisconsin star Lance Kendricks. Given the focus the team has put on tight end, more than likely it'll pass on this position in April.



Offensive line The Draft Board



1st round G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (6-2, 311) 2nd round G Larry Warford, Kentucky (6-3, 332) 3rd round G/T Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-5, 307)
Brian Winters, Kent State (6-4, 320) 4th round G/T Hugh Thornton, Illinois (6-3, 320)
G J.C Tretter, Cornell (6-4, 307) 5th round G Garrett Gilkey, Chadron State (6-6, 318) 6th round G Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (6-3, 302)


The Rams have been trying to sign Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long. He came in for meetings, dinner, a physical and a tour of the city, yet no deal has been reached. If Long is signed, the team will move Rodger Saffold to right tackle as long as those two stay healthy. Regardless, the team can improve the interior of the line, especially at guard. Left guard Robert Turner is an unrestricted free agent, leaving Shelley Smith and Rokevious Watkins to man the position. The team should target guards, at a minimum, until Long makes a decision. Then, add a tackle to the draft board if he ends up somewhere else.

Cooper can play in a power scheme or excel in a zone scheme. He's a more complete guard than Chance Warmack, who is thought to be the top guard in this class. Warford is a much more adept Rokevious Watkins, so if the team likes Watkins, they should love Warford. He has great feet, pulls quickly and hammers linemen at the point of attack. Pugh played left tackle at Syracuse, but is best suited to play right tackle or guard. Keep an eye on Gilkey, who has the physical skill to become a next-level guard.



Defensive line The Draft Board



5th round Josh Boyd, Mississippi State (6-3, 310) 6th round Abry Jones, Georgia (6-3, 313) 7th round Spencer Nealy, Texas A&M (6-4, 280)


The Rams have three first rounders in the defensive line and one targeted free agent at defensive tackle. The focus on the defensive line hasn't completely paid off … yet, but with Chris Long, Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn all together for another season, the defensive front four can be special. Not many teams can pass on defensive linemen and get away with it, but the Rams can until late on Day 3.

Boyd is one of the more underrated defensive tackles in this draft and he flashes on film against some of the best offensive linemen in the SEC. Jones missed the second half of the year with an injury, but could be great depth inside as a 3-technique. Nealy is quick and can be a one-gap penetrating defender, even though he's a bit light.



Linebackers The Draft Board



1st round OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia (6-3, 242) 2nd round OLB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (6-1, 241) 3rd round OLB Sio Moore, U Conn (6-1, 245) 4th round OLB Kevin Reddick, North Carolina (6-1, 243)


James Laurinaitis led the team with 142 tackles last year and continues to be the heart and soul of the defense. The surprise was the performance of WLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar. The former Saint racked up 114 tackles and 4.5 sacks and solidified the weak side of the Rams defense. The question mark, and the only true issue in the front seven, is at Sam linebacker where every option struggled in 2012.

The Rams took a second-round risk last year on CB Janoris Jenkins and it paid off. Taking another risk on Ogletree could be worth it. He would fit better at WLB, but the Rams need to get players with his speed and explosiveness on the field. Greene is less of an athletic freak than Ogletree, but he's a better football player with excellent instincts. Moore can play any linebacker position and even rush the quarterback.



Secondary The Draft Board



2nd round S Eric Reid, LSU (6-0, 213)
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas (6-0, 214) 3rd round S Phillip Thomas, Fresno State (6-1, 208)
S D.J Swearinger, South Carolina (5-11, 208) 4th round S T.J McDonald, USC (6-3, 219)


The Rams signed Cortland Finnegan and drafted Janoris Jenkins last season and that investment paid off. However, the safety position is a mess. Quintin Mikell was a cap casualty and Craig Dahl is an unrestricted free agent. Even though those two combined for 179 tackles last year, they were often a liability. Darian Stewart is a restricted free agent, but he should re-sign and compete for one spot. The other spot should go to a rookie from one of the best safety draft classes in some time.

Reid's cover skills need work and he was exposed at times during the season when he was in coverage. That said, he's a complete football player who's physical, can float in the middle and can fill in the alley against the run. Vaccaro is thought by many to be the top safety in this class, but he missed too many plays last year in a potent offensive conference to be atop the board. Thomas is better in coverage and making plays on the ball than being a physical alley run stopper. McDonald had an up and down senior season but if he's available in the fourth round, the Rams can't pass on that value.


John Harris hosts The John Harris Show for Yahoo! Sports Radio.


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