- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In what has become a day-after draft tradition over the past 30 years, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. handed out his grades for this year's edition in the wee hours Sunday morning.
It probably comes as no surprise given the early returns but the St. Louis Rams earned honor roll caliber grades from Kiper for their 2014 haul. Kiper gave the Rams an A-minus, making them one of three teams to earn that mark and placing them behind the only two teams to get an "A," the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kiper listed the Rams' key needs as offensive tackle, safety, wide receiver and cornerback. All of those received attention relatively early in the draft except for wide receiver. The Rams used their first pick, No. 2 overall, on Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, grabbed Florida State corner Lamarcus Joyner and Missouri corner E.J. Gaines in the second and sixth rounds, respectively, and finally doubled down on safeties in Day 3 with fourth-round choice Maurice Alexander of Utah State and sixth-rounder Christian Bryant of Ohio State.
As for wide receiver, perhaps the "minus" in the grade comes from the team's decision not to address the position. But as we discussed in this space plenty in the time before the draft, the Rams were unlikely to spend a pick, early or otherwise, on a wideout if it wasn't a player like Clemson's Sammy Watkins. As it turns out, Watkins was not really in the mix for the No. 2 pick when all was said and done though the Rams did like what he brought to the table. If the Rams were to add a receiver, it needed to be a potential No. 1-caliber wideout. Once Watkins went off the board, there weren't any other to fit that bill for the team. I thought they might add one later simply because they had so many picks, but it's clear they're going to stick with what they have and allow their young wideouts to develop.
Overall, I agree with Kiper's general thoughts on this draft but for a little different reason. I like that the Rams didn't spend most of the weekend trading down, adding picks and looking for bodies. They had 12 picks to start the draft and used 11 of them. They sat where they were and let things fall to them. In the end, they added a lot of quality to a roster that needs it.
Time will tell if the promise from the weekend will turn into wins on the field. At first glance, anyway, this looks like a class capable of providing help now and in the future.