EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have received rave reviews for their 2014 NFL draft class, especially the first four players they selected. The reasons for that positive outlook range from strong workouts and athleticism to leadership and intangibles.
But perhaps nothing stands out above the production of the players the Rams brought in. Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and Auburn running back Tre Mason were among the most dominant players in college football last year.
With that in mind, here's a look at some numbers from the wonderful people at ESPN Stats & Information and how they could translate to the Rams.
OT Greg Robinson
The stat: On designed runs outside of the left tackle, Auburn averaged an AQ-high 9 yards per rush, including 6.8 yards before first contact.
What it means for the Rams: The Rams had success running the ball behind left tackle Jake Long (and the left side in general) in 2013. Departed starting guard Chris Williams was up and down in the run game, though, and Robinson figures to start out in that left guard spot alongside Long (assuming he's healthy). Robinson is expected to bring his dominant run blocking skills to the lineup right away, but having him next to Long could make a strength even stronger.
DT Aaron Donald
The stat: Led FBS with 28.5 tackles for loss last year and posted an AQ-high 45 total pressures (hurries/knockdowns) on opposing quarterbacks in 2013.
What it means for the Rams: Donald's ability to rush the passer is no secret and should add to an already potent pass rush in St. Louis. Donald probably won't have to do much outside of passing downs early on, but that doesn't mean the Rams won't be able to deploy him in other situations. His ability to get off the ball and penetrate the backfield should allow him to play any down even though he'll have tougher offensive linemen playing across from him.
DB Lamarcus Joyner
The stat: Led Florida State with 5.5 sacks and was second on the team with 69 tackles. His 5.5 sacks ranked second among FBS defensive backs.
What it means for the Rams: The Rams got a grand total of two sacks from defensive backs in 2013, one each from cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety T.J. McDonald. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to bring the heat from the slot and his defensive backs in general. Joyner is expected to play a lot of nickel corner and provides an intriguing option as a blitzer with a knack for getting to the quarterback.
RB Tre Mason
The stat: In short yardage situations (0 to 2 yards to go), Mason converted a first down on 76.5 percent of his carries, which is the highest percentage among running backs with at least 25 such carries.
What it means for the Rams: Although they were better with Zac Stacy as the primary back, the Rams struggled mightily in short yardage situations last year. They were 31st in the league in 2013, converting third-and-2 or less 47.1 percent of their attempts. Mason could find himself on the field in those key situations if his propensity for gaining those tough yards carries over.