“With the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select…” Who knows…The Rams have the 2nd and 13th picks in a loaded draft and it is anyone’s guess as to who they will select. The Rams are on the verge of playoff contention and are not in a situation where they are lacking talent. They simply need to select the best player available, something a lot of teams toward the top of the draft end up doing. Most NFL mock drafts, including our very own Mega-Mock Draft, have the Rams taking one of three elite prospects: Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson or Sammy Watkins.
Option 1: Jadeveon Clowney
Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher has made it well known to the media that a team can never have too many pass rushers. Drafting Jadeveon Clowney would bolster the Rams defensive end rotation from the team’s best unit to possibly the best in the NFL. They already have All-Pro Robert Quinn, an above average starter in Chris Long and a 3rd DE in William Hayes who would be a quality starter on most teams. Clowney wouldn’t have a clear role for a couple years if the Rams chose him since Quinn is arguably the best pass-rusher in the NFL. Long is still only 29, has a massive contract and productive history that would make it hard for Fisher to bench him for a rookie.
Clowney or Long would seemingly be able to slide inside and play DT in a NASCAR package featuring 3 or more DE’s, similar to what the Giants used to employ with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and others. While this would work on occasion, the Rams couldn’t use Clowney or Long as a DT in their base defense as they would be weak up the middle against the run and that would take snaps away from productive DT’s Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford.
Passing on Jadeveon Clowney would be tough to swallow for Rams fans if they see him dominate on another team. Taking Clowney could pay off huge in the long run as Quinn is a free agent next year and Long will most likely need to be replaced after his contract ends in 2016.
Option 2: Greg Robinson
Most scouts think Greg Robinson has the potential to be one of the best O-lineman in years. If so, that would be something the Rams need tremendously. Robinson will likely need a few years of coaching to reach his maximum potential, but that is something the Rams probably can afford. Robinson projects to be a mauling run-blocker, has long enough arms and is athletic enough to develop good pass-protection abilities to be a premier LT in the NFL. The Rams current LT is Jake Long, who played at an elite level before he tore his ACL late in the season which put the beginning of Long’s 2014 season in question. RT Joe Barksdale would likely fill in at LT if needed, leaving Robinson at RT temporarily and likely at LG for the most of the season where he can be a useful asset as a run-blocker while he works on pass-pro.
The addition of Greg Robinson would turn the Rams’ offensive line from a weakness to a strength and it would help the fantasy value of Zac Stacy tremendously. With Robinson, the Rams would likely continue to focus on running the football as they did last season when Sam Bradford went down with an ACL tear. Drafting Robinson would give the Rams an immediate boost on offense and give them long term upside as he should continue to improve throughout his career.
Option 3: Sammy Watkins
The best offensive weapon in the draft, Sammy Watkins is seen by many as the best WR prospect since A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Many fans would frown at this pick after the Rams traded up to take Tavon Austin last year, but Austin and Watkins are completely different players. The Rams are still in need of a true #1 WR, something that Watkins very well can be. The Rams current options as a #1 WR are Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick, Chris Givens and newly signed Kenny Britt. While all are talented and could eventually pan out, none are on the same level as Watkins.
Not drafting Sammy Watkins would mean that the Rams see better value elsewhere, or that they trust their ability to develop Austin and one of the previously stated WR’s into a a good receiving core. Drafting Watkins would bolster a promising, yet under-performing WR group. It could also give Sam Bradford the best group of weapons he has had in his career… something we seemingly say every season.
What They Should Do:
With the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select… Greg Robinson. Sam Bradford tearing his ACL last year was a blessing in disguise for the Rams as they found out what their team identity needs to be: a ball controlling offense supported by an elite defense. Robinson and the return of Bradford would make the offense much better than it was with Kellen Clemens at the helm. With another year of development for their young and promising WRs, the Rams offense could match its defense in terms of productivity in 2014.
What St. Louis does with the 2nd pick is dependent on a lot of things such as: how the Rams feel internally about the development of Bradford and Austin, what they plan to do with the 13th overall pick and also if they think they are in a position to win within the next few years or not. Selecting Robinson improves their team now and gives them a potential franchise LT for the future and with a stacked D-line and multiple promising WRs, Robinson is the best pick that fits a major need.