Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Morning Ram-blings: Sorting top safeties
By Nick Wagoner
As individual positions go, the St. Louis Rams might not have a bigger need on their defense than rangy, athletic safety. Technically, the Rams don't have specific strong and free safety designations but if they did, the easier way to describe that need would be to say they need a true free safety.
Rodney McLeod filled the role in 2013 and, all things considered, improved as the season went along. But the fact remains that the Rams need an upgrade, especially if they intend to play more press-man coverage on the outside at cornerback under new coordinator Gregg Williams.
That's why it's been a common occurrence to see the Rams connected to top safeties such as Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor in mock drafts all over cyberspace. If the Rams choose to look for a safety upgrade that early in the draft, there seems to be a split between camps on whether Clinton-Dix or Pryor is the better player.
On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN draft analyst Kevin Weidl offered his take on the comparisons between the two players.
Without giving away all of Weidl's analysis -- it's worth a read regardless -- there's one part that jumped out to me in trying to decipher the difference between the players. An excerpt of Weidl's thoughts:
"Where Clinton-Dix separates from Pryor as a prospect, though, is in coverage. Simply put, Clinton-Dix gives you more flexibility in the back end. He has clean movement skills, above-average range and the ability to drop down into the slot and match up in man coverage."
Of the many evaluations of Clinton-Dix and Pryor, the idea that Clinton-Dix is better in coverage has been prevalent. If that's the case, he would be a more natural fit for what the Rams need should they choose to go that direction come May.
A roundup of Tuesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we started the day with a look at this year's official draft order. ... We then looked at the team's performance bonuses for the 2013 season. ... From there, it was a quick glance at the team's addition of linebacker Etienne Sabino. ... After that, we provided a glimpse at how ESPN Insider Mike Sando and others graded free agency so far. ... We closed the day with a breakdown of what the Rams hope to get out of newly signed defensive lineman Alex Carrington.
NFL.com cites a Pro Football Talk report that says the Rams are optimistic about landing free-agent receiver Kenny Britt.
Bucky Brooks' fourth mock draft imagines a league in which no quarterback goes in the first round.
At stltoday.com, columnist Bernie Miklasz offers some thoughts on the Rams and free agency.
Jim Thomas writes that the Rams' interest in Mark Sanchez is overblown.
Thomas also participated in his weekly chat.