ST. LOUIS -- Earlier today, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay took their second crack at putting together a mock draft. When it comes to the St. Louis Rams' two first-round picks, Kiper and McShay are on the same page in terms of positions addressed and pegged the same player for the team with the second overall choice.
McShay's mock draft also has the Rams going with Robinson, but he predicts Evans will be gone before the Rams come up at No. 13, he has St. Louis taking the third receiver in his mock in the form of Southern California wideout Marqise Lee.
At least on the surface, I have to agree with the general strategy employed by both Kiper and McShay when it comes to the Rams. St. Louis has needs on defense but must first bolster its offense to try to muster more points against the elite defenses in the NFC West.
Both analysts also altered course a bit from their first mocks in terms of the tackle they have the Rams choosing. Instead of Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, both opted to go with Robinson, who appears to be hurtling toward the top of the board. While Matthews has closer ties to Rams coach Jeff Fisher, Robinson also has his share of connections to the Rams. Robinson played with Fisher's son Trent at Auburn, which also happens to be the alma mater of general manager Les Snead.
Beyond that, both Kiper and McShay point to Robinson's greater "upside" than the other offensive linemen in the draft. While I'd be a bit wary of a tackle without much in the way of pass blocking experience, especially one who played in a lot of wide splits in college, there's a strong argument to be made that Robinson is a better fit for what the Rams want to do offensively. If the Rams are as committed to running the ball as they indicated in the second part of the 2013 season, Robinson would be the ideal fit. Kiper calls him an "absolute mauler," and that seems to be the emerging consensus.
I still believe the Rams plan to trade out of the No. 2 pick. But whether they stay there or move down a few spots, Robinson makes plenty of sense for this team. Of course, in the case of Kiper's mock draft, I'm also not sold the team would pass on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
As for the two receivers going to the Rams at No. 13, I'm left to wonder if that would be the right way to go. I've written plenty of times that I believe the Rams still need to address the receiver position, but that idea is predicated on landing a true No. 1 type. From what I can see and what Kiper and McShay have predicted here, Clemson's Sammy Watkins seems most likely to fit that bill. It's not about the Rams just drafting a receiver, it's about them drafting that one potentially elite receiver who would be an obvious upgrade over what's already in place.
That doesn't mean there isn't potential value to be found in Evans or Lee. Either of them could become that type of player. But if the Rams opt to invest in the offensive line first and Watkins is gone, it may not be prudent to go after a wideout, unless they see another receiver in a similar vein.
Instead, the Rams might be better served addressing needs in the secondary where they could potentially add physical press cornerback or a rangy free safety type.
There's a long way to go before May's NFL draft, but the scouting combine is coming in a few weeks and things should start gaining clarity once the league convenes on Indianapolis.