With the 2015 NFL Draft less than a month away, let’s look at some scenarios facing the Rams at pick No. 10.
Scenario 1: Draft an offensive lineman
This might be the most probable outcome. The Rams have holes at left guard, center and right tackle. The team hasn’t shown a ton of urgency when it comes to addressing these holes in free agency, so perhaps the Rams will sign a veteran following the draft like they did a year ago with Davin Joseph. Thus, staying put and drafting the top offensive lineman on their board is logical.
Tackle Andrus Peat of Stanford perhaps makes the most sense. Iowa’s Brandon Scherff has been linked to the Rams in plenty of mocks, but the thought is that his best position in the pros is guard (and rightfully so when you watch his run-mauling tendencies and his issues in pass protection with edge rushers that can convert speed into power). I’ll never wrap my head around taking a guard in the top 10 because you can find capable starters in the middle rounds. The talent doesn’t drop off at guard as significantly as it does at tackle.
If Scherff’s best position is guard, I’d hope the Rams would search for better value at 10. Peat, La’el Collins and Ereck Flowers are the projected first-round tackles, although I’d argue that Collins will benefit from playing inside at the next level as well. Like Scherff, he’s a mauler in the run game but he has issues in space while spending too much time on the ground and not moving his feet quick enough to seal off the edge.
The more I re-watched LSU, the more enamored I became with Collins as a guard as opposed to a tackle.
With Peat, his technique speaks for itself. Defenders have trouble disengaging from him because of his size and length, and he does a nice job setting the edge. He’s one of the safer prospects in this year’s draft, although I’m not sure if his ceiling will go any higher despite being only 21. He doesn’t play with that same finish in the run game like Scherff, but he’s pro-ready, which might be attractive to a Rams team that will need to land starters in this year’s draft. Is he a top 10 pick? That’s debatable, although he’s being projected to go in the teens so it’s not as if the Rams would be vastly overreaching.
Scenario 2: Trade back
This is the scenario I prefer most when it comes to the Rams, who only have six picks in this year’s draft after trading a fourth and sixth to the Bucs in the Mark Barron deal. No disrespect to Peat, who I like as a mid-first rounder, but there isn’t a dynamic offensive line prospect in this year’s draft, and I’d hate to see the Rams reach.
If they could trade back, grab another second or third-round pick in the process, and get more appropriate value for whichever offensive lineman they snag, that would be the best-case scenario in my eyes. Hell, the Rams could address two holes along the offensive line and still have two more picks in the top 75 if things break the right way.
Scenario 3: Draft a wide receiver
For my money, Alabama’s Amari Cooper is the best prospect in this year’s draft class. He doesn’t have the size of West Virginia’s Kevin White, but he’s the most polished receiver I’ve seen come out in a long time and he has just as much speed (check out the footage from the scouting combine where Cooper and White run neck-in-neck).
From a route-running standpoint, there’s no receiver better than Cooper, and if he were there at No. 10, I’d love to see the Rams nab him. That said, I highly doubt he’ll be available, and the same goes for White. And even if they were available, the Rams seemingly love their current group of receivers and are unlikely to take a wideout in the first round.
Scenario 4: Draft a cornerback
I haven’t heard many people mention cornerback at No. 10 for the Rams, but with both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson set to become free agents following the season, this is an interesting option.
Michigan State’s Trae Waynes is the consensus top cornerback in this year’s draft, but I’d argue Jalen Collins of LSU and Marcus Peters (despite his off-field history) of Washington are just as intriguing. Plus, this year’s class at cornerback is deep.
E.J. Gaines proved a year ago that he can start in the NFL and I’m sure the Rams still have plans for 2014 second-rounder LaMarcus Joyner. They could wait at corner and still find good value in the middle rounds. In fact, Collins underwent foot surgery in March and could slip into the second round and offer tremendous value. With his size and length, he’s exactly what Fisher has searched for in previous drafts.
Scenario 5: Take a quarterback.
The Rams could choose to take their quarterback of the future at No. 10 if Marcus Mariota were to fall, but there’s reason to believe that he’ll be selected with the second overall pick (by the Titans or by another team trading up).
And with Jameis Winston likely to come off the board at No. 1 to the Bucs, I don’t think the Rams will even have an opportunity to consider quarterback in the first round. There are no signal-callers behind Winston and Mariota that deserve consideration in the first.
Scenario 6: Trade up
I don’t see this happening, but Peter King and others have written about the Rams having an “all-in” mentality when it comes to this year’s draft.
Two problems with that sentiment: One, the Rams don’t have the resources (i.e. extra picks) to move up, and I don’t envision them trading next year’s top pick. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, the Rams aren’t one player away from a Super Bowl.
Parting with valuable mid-round picks in order to get land one player wouldn’t be sensible.
Scenario 7: Take an edge rusher
Based on how many people referred to me as an idiot last week when Chris Duncan and I broached this subject on “The Turn,” I gather that fans don’t even believe this is an option. It is.
Leonard Williams (who is versatile enough to play tackle or end, depending on the front), Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley and Randy Gregory (despite his failed drug test at the combine) are elite prospects. Many believe Missouri’s Shane Ray is a top 15 prospect as well.
Even though the Rams’ biggest strength is along the front seven, the Giants won two Super Bowls in five years because they understood you can never have enough pass-rushers. Plus, and I’ve vehemently argued this over the years, the draft is about selecting players, not positions.
Imagine if the Rams addressed a need at No. 13 last year over a player: They wouldn’t have wound up with Aaron Donald, who didn’t fill a need at defensive tackle, but wound up winning the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year title.
Chris Long won’t play forever. Injuries are a part of the game.
Pass rushers are like gold to NFL teams, and they can take a while to develop, so adding as many talented prospects as you can isn’t a horrible strategy (in fact it’s a winning one if you ask the Giants).
Now, are Williams, Fowler, Beasley or Gregory fits in Gregg Williams’ defense? That’s an argument for another time. But for now, I wouldn’t discount this scenario playing out on draft night if one of these top pass rushers were to fall.