- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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The NFL draft is set to begin May 8 and the St. Louis Rams hold 12 picks in this year's selection process. For the next week and a half, we'll take a look at a different position every day with what the Rams have in place at a position, what they need, when they might address it and some possible fits.
We continue the countdown with a look at this year's crop of safeties.
What's needed: Technically, the Rams are bringing back their two starters from a season ago in McDonald and McLeod. The Rams are high on McDonald's potential and believe new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can find many ways to use him effectively. The team also believed McLeod improved as the year went on, but he actually fared better as a slot corner than he did roaming the back end. The idea here is simple: the Rams need to find a rangy, centerfield type of safety who can cover to complement what McDonald figures to do in the box and near the line of scrimmage. Daniels is a promising player who simply hasn't been able to stay healthy and Davis might have some potential as well, but the need for a tag team partner for McDonald is clear.
Possible fits: While the Rams will acknowledge the need for help at this position, they have once again masterfully played their cards close to the vest. They don't release the names of their top 30 visits and it's been hard to pin down many names amongst the safeties in this year's class as having so much as visited St. Louis in the pre-draft process. The team did meet with top prospects such as Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor at the scouting combine but they meet with pretty much every player -- formally or informally -- at that event. Clinton-Dix is the logical fit because his skill set on paper fits the bill of what the Rams need. Others who might make sense include Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward, Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner and Washington State's Deone Bucannon. Bucannon did visit St. Louis in the pre-draft process. Coach Jeff Fisher kept everyone guessing last year and pounced on McDonald in the third round. Don't be surprised if he follows a similar blueprint this time around.
Verdict: The Rams are going to draft a safety and if they want the one ranked at the top, a guy such as Clinton-Dix, they'll have to do it with their No. 13 overall pick, assuming he's still available. But I'm not sold the Rams value the position or any of the safeties available in a manner that would lead to them using such a lofty pick on one. The guess here is the Rams will wait until the second or third round before looking to pounce on whoever the player is that has caught their fancy -- and they've worked so hard to keep secret.