Friday, May 9, 2014
Exploring Rams' Day 2 possibilities
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams went heavy on the beef on Day 1 of the NFL draft, adding Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
As we head toward Friday night's second and third rounds, the Rams have some pressing needs to address. Namely, they need help in the secondary with a nickel cornerback and a potential rangy safety type topping the list. The team could also look for their quarterback tonight, perhaps as early as their second-round choice at No. 44.
And we can't forget that the Rams showed interest in trading back up for Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin on Thursday night, meaning they considered doubling down on big men up front. They could well be tempted again if someone they like is available tonight.
Here's a quick rundown of some options at those positions:
Defensive back: There was a big run on cornerbacks and safeties in Round 1, but there is plenty of depth to be had at cornerback. At safety, not so much. However, there are some intriguing options. Florida State's dynamic duo of Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks provide a couple of strong options, with Joyner providing corner/safety versatility and Brooks fitting the role as a rangy free safety. Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir are intriguing prospects with size, but neither necessarily fits the bill to help in the nickel unless the Rams feel good about using Janoris Jenkins there or continuing to plug Rodney McLeod in there. In Mel Kiper Jr.'s Round 2 mock draft , he has only Joyner, Brooks and Jean-Baptiste going in Round 2 amongst defensive backs.
Quarterback: The Rams want a quarterback who can push starter Sam Bradford, hence the interest in Johnny Manziel. Though they didn't feel comfortable enough with any of the prospects to draft them above other players at other positions they clearly liked better, they still want to get a quarterback who has starter potential even if it's not for 2014. There are still some intriguing names on the board like Fresno State's Derek Carr and Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo. I think the Rams have some interest in both, especially Garoppolo, but it seems unlikely either will fall to No. 44 with some quarterback-needy teams ahead of them. That leaves some other options, including Alabama's AJ McCarron, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Pittsburgh's Tom Savage. The Rams have shown interest in all of them, and all figure to go in the second or early third round. If the Rams want a quarterback from that group, they might have to pull the trigger in the second round, because they might not be there in Round 3.
Offensive line: The idea of spending another premium pick on an offensive lineman is probably not appealing to fans who weren't impressed by the meat and potatoes approach of the team on Thursday night. But there are some names that could be intriguing should the Rams look to go this route Friday night. Nevada's Joel Bitonio and UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo are two names the Rams have expressed interest in and would be good fits. The Rams have more pressing needs in the secondary, but the value of Bitonio or Su'a-Filo could be hard to resist. In Round 3, someone like North Dakota State's Billy Turner or Furman's Dakota Dozier could draw interest.
Elsewhere: By no means are the Rams committed to taking a player from one of these positions. There are some good receiver prospects still available, and the Rams could go that way though I believe the Rams will pass on wideouts until later believing that none of the players left there are true No. 1 types. In other words, the players left might be projects similar to what they already have, so they might as well see it through with their current crop. Linebacker is a possibility also as the Rams showed interest in a player like Alabama's C.J. Mosley in Round 1. It would be a surprise to see the Rams go with a tight end, running back or defensive lineman Friday night.
Prediction: I believe the Rams will sit with their two picks and make their choices from the secondary, quarterback and the offensive line. My hunch is that it will be a defensive back and a quarterback, though projecting the rounds for each is more difficult. I'm going to press my luck and offer these choices for the Rams tonight:
Second round, No. 44 overall -- Florida State DB Lamarcus Joyner
Third round, No. 75 overall -- Georgia QB Aaron Murray