St. Louis Rams: Todd McShay

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- If you didn't get mock draft burnout with the extra two weeks leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, well, you're in luck. Because the fun has already begun anew.

Courtesy of resident draft analyst Todd McShay, the first 2015 mock draft Insider was brought to the masses on Wednesday afternoon. I know, I know, why would we care about a mock draft this far out from the real thing? Well, I firmly believe that things like mock drafts are something people complain about the proliferation of but then dutifully click and read.

If nothing else, McShay offers some insight into the players who figure to be in the conversation as potential first rounders next year. Some will follow through on that and others will fall off over the course of the next 12 months.

So as not to stir up hard feelings, McShay used the projected records from Football Outsiders to come up with the order. Those projections have the Rams at 6-10 and drafting seventh. Clearly, that's not what Rams fans are hoping to hear.

For what it's worth, McShay has the Rams taking Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff with that pick. Another tackle might seem extraneous after taking Greg Robinson this year but right tackle Joe Barksdale is scheduled for free agency after the season and Jake Long is recovering from a knee injury.

But I have to think if somehow the Rams did go 6-10 in 2014, what happened at the quarterback position? My guess is that it wasn't very good or the record would have been better which leads me to believe in this imaginary scenario, the Rams would look in that direction with that pick.

Again, this is all for fun and not worth getting upset over but something to ponder as we look to the future.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Wednesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... We began the day with the Ram-blings examining the success of young quarterbacks when matched up against elite defenses. ... Next came this week's version of the Buzz video in which a 50 Cent reference was made and we discussed the rookie class. ... From there, we got into the many ways in which Greg Robinson fits the Rams. ... We then offered one man's (read: mine) take on how the offensive depth chart will shake out heading into organized team activities. ... Next, we provided the news that Wade Davis, the executive director of You Can Play and a former NFL player, spoke to the Rams at Jeff Fisher's request Monday. ...From there, we examined whether Michael Sam is doing all he can to make it about football.

Elsewhere:

To go with McShay's mock draft, columnist Jeffri Chadiha takes a look at the potential of the quarterback class for next year.

ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell offers the news that Michael Sam is a part of a documentary series for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

At stltoday.com, Bernie Miklasz offers his take on Sam's chances of making the Rams.

Jim Thomas chronicles the arrival of the Rams' top two draft picks.

At 101sports.com, Randy Karraker writes that the Rams have their chance to gain relevance in 2014.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The real NFL draft is a little more than a week away, which means we are finally drawing close to the merciful end of the longest silly season of all time.

It also means we are drawing closer to the end of mock draft season, but before we do there are a couple of final opportunities for our ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay to make their projections.

On Tuesday afternoon, Kiper and McShay released the fifth edition of their mock drafts. For most of this pre-draft process, Kiper and McShay have been in lockstep on the directions the St. Louis Rams will go with the Nos. 2 and 13 picks in the first round.

So it should come as no surprise to see Kiper again mock Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Rams in his fifth mock draft. And, drumroll please, McShay follow through with the same picks in his version. Be sure to check out the full mock drafts for full explanations from both on their picks.

As for the fits of Robinson and Clinton-Dix to the Rams, we've discussed those choices time and again and it's hard to argue that they don't make sense. The Rams have needs for another dominant offensive lineman and a rangy free safety type.

At No. 2 overall, the mock draft momentum for Robinson has been in place nearly from the moment he declared and only picked up steam at the scouting combine. While Robinson comes with questions because he's not a polished pass protector, his punishing run blocking style would be ideal for St. Louis. Beyond that, the Rams have not been afraid to draft the player with upside over the more polished option since general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher took over.

Snead and Fisher have played this one extremely close to the vest and it's hard to determine which way the team will go if it can't trade down from No. 2. While Robinson is still in play and the Rams have showed plenty of interest in him, they also have done the same with Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews. Assuming Jadeveon Clowney goes No. 1, the debate likely comes down to those three players with Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack the sleeper.

The No. 13 pick should provide even more intrigue since a dozen players will be off the board. With the requisite trade down possibility again recognized, don't be surprised if the Rams throw more of a curveball there. Clinton-Dix has been mocked to the Rams in this spot all over the place but while the Rams have acknowledged the need for safety help they don't appear desperate to take one in the first round.

While teams often pay a lot of lip service to drafting the "best player available" they usually mean the best player available at a position of need. However, the Rams could use help at many positions and are in a spot where they could draft just about anything here and it wouldn't be a surprise. So while Clinton-Dix could be in play, it might be worth considering other names that haven't been on the radar as much here such as Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, to name a few.

Nobody knows anything for sure at this point but one thing we do know is that soon enough we won't have to wonder anymore.
ST. LOUIS --Three of the league's top seven scoring defenses in 2013 resided in the NFC West. Seattle was No. 1, San Francisco was No. 3 and Arizona was No. 7.

And then there were the St. Louis Rams, who finished a respectable 13th in the league in points allowed but finished fourth in the division in terms of record and defense. That isn't preventing some NFL analysts from looking at the Rams' defensive foundation and seeing a group capable of unseating the Seahawks on the NFL's defensive throne.

In fact, over at NFL.com, Gil Brandt named the Rams his "defense on the rise," just behind five other defenses capable of becoming the next dominant group in the NFL.

Brandt writes that the Rams have "two thirds" of the needed parts to become an elite defense, citing the strength of the front seven but acknowledging the need for help on the back end. There's no doubt about that. The Rams' greatest needs defensively this offseason include a rangy free safety type and potentially even another starting caliber cornerback. An outside linebacker to complement Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitis would also make sense.

Of course, another reason for Brandt's optimism as it comes to the Rams defense is the pending addition of Gregg Williams as the defensive coordinator. Brandt writes that Williams should help take the defense to the next level.

That's an opinion shared elsewhere. SI.com's Don Banks called Williams the best coordinator hire of the offseason.

I'm inclined to agree with both takes as the Rams have been building toward a dominant defense since the arrival of coach Jeff Fisher. Many of the pieces are in place. Now, they need to add the final touches and let Williams mold it all together to maximize an extremely talented young group on a consistent basis.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we took a look at the latest round of rumors and speculation concerning the Rams and Los Angeles. ... Next, it was my column on why the time has come for the Rams to stop spending big in free agency and keep developing their young players. ... From there, we continued our series on possible future Hall of Fame Rams with a look at receiver Isaac Bruce. ... Finally, we offered some thoughts and reaction to the mock drafts of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.

Elsewhere:

Speaking of the mock drafts (both links are ESPN Insider content):

Here's Kiper's latest offering.

Here's McShay's updated picks.

Tavon Austin joined ESPN's Toni Collins with thoughts on a number of topics relating to the memorabilia industry.

SI.com has its own updated mock draft following a similar blueprint as the Kiper/McShay takes.

NFL.com's Adam Schein ranks the Rams No. 8 as one of the most interesting teams to watch this offseason.
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.

In Kiper's mock draft, he has the Rams taking Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson at No. 2 overall and Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans with pick No. 13.

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.

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