As we continue rolling along toward the 2014 NFL draft, mock drafts are certain to change and so will the opinions that go along with them. But I believe it's good to change the mocks because that can give you an idea of the many different scenarios that could play out.
To this point, ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have been pretty consistent in sending a top offensive lineman to the St. Louis Rams. McShay's third crack at a mock draft dropped earlier Thursday, and I like it in the sense he gives Rams fans another way to look at how the draft plays out. And, honestly, I don't think it's all that far fetched that the Rams' first round could play out the way McShay has it.
With the No. 2 pick, McShay sends South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the consensus best player in the draft to the Rams. Here's a snippet of his logic on the matter:
"If Clowney doesn't go No. 1 to the Texans, the Rams will be ecstatic for two reasons: One, it would drive up the trade value for the No. 2 pick (at No. 6, the Falcons are one potential trade partner); and two, if the Rams don't get a trade offer that makes sense, they'll have the opportunity to take the best player in this draft and transform a good, young defense into an exceptional one."
My thoughts: This is a discussion we started having in this space back in January and it's one that probably isn't going to go away for awhile. I completely agree with McShay that the Rams would still prefer to get a sweetheart trade offer for this pick and if Clowney is on the board, it would only bolster the value of the choice. I also agree the Rams will have a hard time passing on him if he's available. Yes, the Rams are loaded on the defensive line but a potential game-changer at a position that is extremely important would be difficult to say no to, especially given Jeff Fisher's affinity for pass-rushers. Would they prefer to trade down and grab a top offensive lineman? Probably. But they can't really go wrong with Clowney, either.
With the No. 13 pick, McShay sends Louisville safety Calvin Pryor to the Rams to fill a gaping hole at the back end of the secondary. Here's a snippet of McShay's thoughts:
"Rams fans probably don't love me for taking two defensive players with their first-rounders in this mock, but they need a safety and Pryor is a good value here as the top-ranked safety on our board. He is a hammer in run support and shows good range in zone coverage."
My thoughts: While I don't disagree with the idea of the Rams taking a safety -- they need one -- I'm not sure I agree Pryor is a good value. The top two safeties are both on the board here, which would give the Rams a shot to grab the best one in the draft, but I'm not so sure either Pryor or Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are top-15 caliber players. I'm also not convinced that Fisher and the Rams prioritize safety enough to draft one this early. McShay is absolutely right in that some Rams fans hate the idea of going defense/defense with their two first-round picks, though I've seen some advocating the idea of "finishing" the defense. I'm more inclined to think the Rams could move down from this spot or, if they're going to use it on a defensive back, go for the more premium position of corner instead of safety. Either way, the Rams do need to score more points and be better offensively. I don't think it's too far-fetched for the Rams to draft two defensive players in the first round, but it would certainly make it far more difficult on an offense that desperately needs an influx of talent on the offensive line and a top wide receiver.