The 2014 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, May 8, and every team will look to infuse youth and talent into their rosters. This is the first of our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICKS NO. 2 AND 13: ST. LOUIS RAMS
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2013 record: 7-9
Key offseason acquisitions: QB Shaun Hill, DE Alex Carrington
Key offseason departures: CB Cortland Finnegan, G Shelley Smith, G Harvey Dahl
Biggest holes in roster: Guard, wide receiver, cornerback
The Rams have two high picks, but will they actually use both of them?
Rumors have been swirling since the end of the season that the Rams are looking to trade down from No. 2 overall, which was the pick the Redskins sent as part of the Robert Griffin III trade in 2012. With all the talent at the top of this draft, it's a strong possibility. All it takes is one team that's in love with one of the top prospects.
For the purpose of this primer, let's assume the Rams stand pat at No. 2. They would have the chance to nab an impact player on offense.
A popular pick in mock drafts is Auburn tackle Greg Robinson. Robinson was a key part of the Tigers' run to the BCS title game thanks to his freakish athleticism. The 6-5, 332-pound junior clocked a 4.92 40-yard dash at the Combine (to go with an unofficial 1.68-second 10-yard split, which is usually a better test of a lineman's explosiveness in short areas) and put up 32 reps on the bench press with an impressive 35-inch arm length. He's the definition of a mauler. For proof, watch him during the national championship game when he pancaked a defender 10 yards downfield on Auburn's first TD. He played on the left side in college, but could project to right tackle (traditionally a spot for run-blockers such as Robinson) or even inside at guard.
Robinson's main issue is his lack of refinement in pass protection. He needs to improve his footwork. But he's an NFL-ready run blocker, and if he can get better in the passing game, he could be an extremely valuable piece for a team in the ultra-competitive NFC West.
If the Rams are looking for a more well-rounded offensive lineman, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews would be the more ideal pick. Matthews isn't as strong as Robinson (24 reps in the bench press) and has a shorter reach (33-3/8 inches), but he's sounder technique-wise and is considered one of the safest picks in the entire draft. Like Robinson, Matthews is versatile. He played left tackle during his senior season with the Aggies, but played on the right side before that. Plus, he has a history with Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who coached Matthews' father and Hall of Famer Bruce when they were both with the Oilers/Titans franchise.
The Rams drafted a wideout in the first round last season in Tavon Austin, but they may want to keep adding weapons for Sam Bradford. If that's the case, Clemson's Sammy Watkins could be the likely pick. Watkins is a big-play receiver who uses his very good speed (4.43-second 40) to turn a small gain into a big one. He has soft hands and could also double as a returner. He would add to an already explosive receiver corps.
Regardless of whether the Rams trade out of No. 2 or take someone, they'll be on the clock not long afterwards when pick 13 comes up. What they do with that pick will likely depend on their earlier choice.
If they go offensive line at No. 2, they could double back on receiver at 13 and take Texas A&M's Mike Evans, provided he is still on the board. The 6-5 Evans would represent a stark contrast in style from Watkins. Evans is a big, physical presence on the outside, while Watkins relies more on speed and acceleration. Evans has excellent body control to make tough catches and uses his length and 37-inch vertical to high-point the ball very well. He'd be a great complement to the speedier, shiftier Austin.
Let's say the Rams take Watkins at No. 2. If they still want an offensive lineman, they could go after Taylor Lewan at 13. The four-year starter at Michigan plays with a nasty streak yet is surprisingly athletic, having tested well in the 40 (4.87 seconds) and three-cone shuttle (7.39) at the Combine. He has ideal size for the position at 6-7 and 309 pounds, and can play right tackle in addition to left. However, there are several character concerns with Lewan - he was charged on March 20 with three misdemeanors stemming from an alleged assault of two Ohio State fans on Dec. 1, 2013. Lewan has denied involvement in the altercation.
An option that could work no matter what happens at No. 2: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The Alabama free safety is rangy and has good instincts and great coverage skills. He can roam centerfield, line up against a slot receiver or play in the box against the run equally well, making him a good fit on the Rams' athletic defense.
Possible Day 2/Day 3 picks include Virginia OT Morgan Moses, Nevada OT/OG Joel Bitonio, Louisville S Calvin Pryor, Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward, Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin and Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman.