Yes, I love sports too. Feel free to skip this if you don't. I'm a St. Louis Rams fan, random, but I don't care, it'll never change. With that, I'm so glad Jeff Fisher is calling the shots this year. I couldn't stand to watch their drafts the last few years, they were picking guy after guy that I wish I couldn't say I knew wouldn't work out the second their name was called. But last year was so good. I swear they read my mind with each pick. Brockers, Johnson, Givens, Jenkins. JANORIS JENKINS. All these guys were astounding for the Rams last year. So, even with what many consider a weak class this year, I was locked in to every second this year to see what Fisher and the rest of the organization would pull out of their hat. And here are my thoughts, by pick.
Round 1, 8th overall: West Virginia WR, Tavon Austin - I was mildly excited when the Rams traded up eight spots, though a lot of their needs I thought could be addressed with the 16th pick and the 46th that they gave up. They could have still drafted Jarvis Jones, Eric Reid, or even the likes of Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball, and Arthur Brown with their now gone second round pick. That being said, I'm cautiously excited about Tavon Austin. He has a lot of Percy Harvin in him, without some of the personality issues or injury history. He's lightning-quick, has good hands, and ran under a 4.3 40-Yard dash. If he lives up to the hype, he can be a monster of a playmaker for the Rams. The problem I have is his size. While I don't generally have a problem with small, fast receivers, but the Rams' best receiver right now is a small (though not as small), fast, deep threat. Austin Pettis has emerged as a decent receiver, but he's the only even slightly proven other wide receiver on the team. If Brian Quick and Tavon Austin become the dangerous duo they have the potential to me, with Givens becoming the third option burner, this could be the start of another Greatest Show on turf, but until then, I think it leaves them as a one-dimesional receiving corps.
Round 1, 30th overall: Georgia LB, Alec Ogletree - I was begging my phone (I was listening to the ESPN Radio coverage) to call out this guy when the Rams' pick came up. With most of the top safeties gone, except for Matt Elam, who's a high risk, high reward guy with one really good year in an average conference (though I'd still be satisfied), Ogletree was pretty much the only option in my mind. As a former Safety, he's quick for a linebacker, as well as a great option in running back and tight end coverage. Yet at 242 pounds, he possesses plenty of size and arm length to wrap up and take down a back or screen receiver after reaching them with his elite closing speed. He doesn't have good block shedding skills, but as someone relatively new to the position, that can be taught, especially with the elite pass rushers and defensive coaching around him. With the right coaching and effort he can convert excellently into an elite linebacker with insane versatility. He has areas of concern, but they all relate to his inexperience. If he pans out, St. Louis may have the best front seven in the league for the next decade.
Round 3, 71st overall: USC Safety, T.J. McDonald - Here's the safety I've been asking for. McDonald is a big, physical Safety who also has the speed to cover tight ends effectively. He has solid range and close on the ball, as well as great blitzing and block-shedding ability for his position. Not to mention his stellar ability to go up and fight for the ball in the passing game. He does lack lateral movement and agility, making it difficult to cover the field side-to-side, though he wasn't often used in deep coverage, so he doesn't have a ton of experience working with this immobility. He played a lot of hybrid looks in college, coming up behind the linebacker in pass rushing and coverage of mobile quarterbacks. Though that's not ideal for a safety, I think doing that in college will help a lot in a division with duel-threats like Russell WIlson and Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. The last thing is the leadership abilities and read skills he exemplified t USC, Safety is disappointingly underappreciated as a leadership position and it's always good for your backfield when one comes in being able to accommodate that.
Round 3, 92nd overall: West Virginia WR, Stedman Bailey - I don't love this pick, but it has huge potential to be a steal. He's another short receiver at 5'10". but he had outrageous production at West Virginia. He caught 114 balls for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns, as the second-best receiver on the team. He's a good leaper with good body control and route-running skills, who you wouldn't believe is as short as he is when you watch him play. He doesn't have amazing speed though, and many figure he won't amount to much more than a slot receiver in the NFL. But even so, he has the skill set to be elite in that regard. I'm not too excited about the pick, but it's solid and has good potential.
Round 4, 113th overall: Alabama G/C, Barrett Jones - I'm honestly astonished that this guy was the 113th player drafted. He's one of the most versatile and decorated offensive lineman in college football history. He's not physically elite, but he's tenacious, unrelenting, and smart. He can be solid at any position and is a natural-born leader with tons of experience blocking the best defenses in the biggest games in college football. He definitely has bust potential due to his lack of physical dominance, but I think he has much more of a ceiling than most, and at worst, he'll be a solid backup for anyone on the Rams' line for years. Plus, he looks like a smaller version of the big, white dude from Remember the Titans.
Round 5, 149th overall: Miami (FL) CB, Brandon McGee - This may be my inner Hurricanes fan talking, but I really like this pick. I loved what he did in college, one of the most consistent and effective corners during the length of his career. He has great speed, agility and footwork, as well as mid-air movement when going up after the football. He also has good size at 5'11" and 193 pounds to go along with a 4.37 40-yard dash. He tends to get out-physicalled by more bulky receivers (which isn't common in the NFC West outside of Larry Fitzgerald) and loses his balance at times, but his high level of quickness allows him to recover in a hurry. He's a two-year starter who was a team captain in his senior season, with a total of 44 games under his belt. He also played mainly man coverage during college which I think makes him a good fit next to more do-everything back like Finnegan and Jenkins.
Round 5, 160th overall: Vanderbilt RB, Zac Stacy - Well, they finally got a power back in hopes of complimenting Daryl Richardson in the running game. To be honest, I don't know much about this guy. He's a compact, power back at 5'8" and 216 pounds. He was a consistent 1,000-yard rusher on average teams while playing against defenses the likes of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, all teams touting a great run defense. I think he can be a solid change-of-pace back to take the load off of Richardson and add variety to the offense as a whole.
Overall, I really like this draft. It's a mix of solid talent and high upside, as well as solid fits at every position. White I'm not the biggest fan of the Austin pick, if he pans out, it'll be a steal even so early, especially if Brian Quick becomes anywhere near the next Terrell Owens like Receivers Coach Ray Sherman declared he saw him as after drafting him last year. Imagine Terrell Owens, without the crazy, alongside Percy Harvin, without the injuries. I think Ogletree can be a perfect pick and make the team's front seven one of the best I've seen in a while, McDonald is the solid multi-dimensional Safety that Fisher always uses perfectly, and everyone else is a steal in my opinion and fill pretty much every hole on the team with the best talent available at the time. Even with Seattle and San Francisco in the same division, I can't express how excited I am about the Rams' future.