Wednesday, March 13, 2013
2013 Kiper Jr. mock 3.0: Rams thoughts
By Mike Sando
Mel Kiper Jr. is back with his third 2013 NFL mock draft for the first round.
Our look at projected picks for NFC West teams continues in reverse order. Kiper had the San Francisco 49ers selecting UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones at No. 31. We now move ahead to the St. Louis Rams. They have two picks in the first round: their own (16th overall) and one acquired from Washington (22nd).
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Kiper's give: With two first-round picks, the Rams can target maximum value ahead of top need, but Vaccaro offers a check in both boxes. Extremely versatile, Vaccaro is sound in coverage, takes great angles and makes very good reads. But he's a physical player who can assist in run support and be effective near the line of scrimmage. Play Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson four times a year, and versatility at safety can't be overstated.
Sando's take: Kiper had the Rams taking tackle Lane Johnson in his previous mock. Johnson was off the board to San Diego at No. 11 in this updated mock. The Rams are visiting with free-agent tackle Jake Long on Wednesday. Signing Long would diminish the need for a tackle in the draft. Kiper has the Rams taking Vaccaro over guard Chance Warmack. The need at safety does appear more acute after the Rams released Quintin Mikell. However, there are several options in free agency. Louis Delmas is one option under consideration. He played under new Rams defensive coordinator Tim Walton when both were with the Detroit Lions. Injuries are a concern with Delmas, however.
22. St. Louis Rams: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Kiper's give: Even if the Rams land a wide receiver in free agency, they should be looking for some young talent at the position in the draft. Hunter has size, speed and creates a home run threat on the edge. He's got some wiggle, given his height, and can create separation with his feet outside of simply running away from people. Where Hunter must get better is in the ability to deal with physical defenders; he's not very strong, which could make press coverage a problem at the next level.
Sando's take: Wait, Hunter isn't very physical? Good luck with that in the NFC West, where cornerbacks such as Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson are waiting to take your lunch money. Kiper's previous mock had the Rams taking California receiver Keenan Allen in this slot. This time, Allen falls to Minnesota at No. 23. I'll be watching to see what happens with Danny Amendola in free agency. So far, not so much. Could the Rams get him back at a reasonable price? How badly do they need him? The team has already invested heavily in a receiving tight end, committing $19 million in guaranteed money for 25-year-old Jared Cook. Cook, Lance Kendricks, Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis give the Rams young targets to build around.