<
>

Morning Ram-blings: Kiper's top 100

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his list of the top 100 prospectsInsider on Tuesday.

It should be no surprise Kiper's top seven are the same he discussed a few weeks ago in his conference call with NFL Nation reporters. So as not to give away the farm of Kiper's list, I think this would be a good time to discuss the idea of value of players versus the need for the St. Louis Rams.

The four players most often connected to the Rams with the No. 2 overall pick are Auburn's Greg Robinson, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews.

It's no surprise for anyone following Kiper's work to see that Clowney is at the top of his board. It's more interesting to note the ranking of the other three. Watkins is No. 2, Robinson is No. 4 and, most surprising, Matthews is No. 7. Kiper provides explanations on each player's ranking in the piece.

Now, it's worth noting those rankings in terms of the Rams for this reason: I've seen many fans and others question why the Rams "don't just trade down and draft Watkins, Robinson, Matthews, et. al?" The simple answer is because it'd be unwise to assume they are all going to fall into the team's lap. Depending on how far they move down, the Rams could take themselves out of the mix for one of those players, assuming they want one, of course.

To be clear, Kiper's board doesn't reflect the opinions of the Rams or any other teams but in many cases, the top of these boards are at least similar to how teams see it and then the opinions begin differing greatly when you get later in the round.

But the overall point is this: even if the Rams stay at No. 2 and take a Watkins or Robinson (assuming Clowney is gone), they'll be getting good value. This isn't the type of draft where there's a huge drop off from the top player to the rest. In fact, there are a few players worthy of being picked second. Heck, some think that players like Robinson and Buffalo's Khalil Mack are worthy of the first pick.

If the Rams can trade down and still get one, that's ideal. But there's nothing wrong with sitting where they are and taking one of the elite talents mentioned above.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Tuesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we began the day with Mel Kiper Jr.'s thoughts on the Rams' four biggest needs. ... Next, we offered a little news on linebacker James Laurinaitis' offseason ankle surgery. ... We then continued the prospect profile series with a look at Florida State safety Terrence Brooks. ... Finally, we capped the day with a look at the sense of urgency from the players as they began the offseason program.

Elsewhere:

ESPN.com's Louis Riddick talks about the need for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to break out in 2014.

At Stltoday.com, Jim Thomas provides his thoughts on the Rams' returning to work in the offseason program.

Thomas also participated in his weekly chat.

At TheMMQB.com, Peter King offers his thoughts on what the Rams should do with the No. 2 overall pick.

NFL.com reports the Rams are interested in Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. At No. 2? No chance. At No. 13? Perhaps but it would still seem a long shot.

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio discusses the Houston Texans' No. 1 pick with Houston Chronicle writer John McClain.