Fixing the St. Louis Rams’ Struggles at Safety
There will be no shortage of options this offseason for a St. Louis Rams team looking to retool at multiple areas. Perhaps the most glaring deficiency that this team has in 2012 on defense was in the secondary at safety. Both of the starters at those positions in Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell are likely to be gone in 2013, so just what kind of options might the Rams pursue in filling that void in the middle of their defense?
The option to get younger is always an enticing one for a team that is trying to rebuild across the board. Due to a dire need for offensive line help however, the Rams may need to allocate one of their primary needs to the NFL Draft and one to free agency. If the safety spot is addressed in the draft, players like Kenny Vaccaro of Texas or Matt Elam from Florida could fit the bill.
Vaccaro offers plenty of size, enough to actually play as an in the box safety when needed, yet still has the range to drop into coverage successfully. He is a high IQ player that can diagnose plays quickly and has tremendous instincts to boot. As for Elam, his skill set is similar to Vaccaro’s yet he is a much smaller safety. With Vaccaro at 6’1” 218 lbs., he may be a top 20 draft choice whereas Elam at 5’10” 202lbs. may be near the end of round one. Either one would be an effective option to groom at the position heading into the future.
Obviously the other option is to go out and get a veteran to fill that hole. Jarius Byrd of the Buffalo Bills has been quite impressive during his four years in the league and if the team were to added Dick Jauron as defensive coordinator, this makes quite a bit of sense. Byrd was a draft choice under Jauron’s watch in Buffalo during which he experienced his best campaign hauling in nine interceptions as a rookie.
Another option would be to maybe draft a safety later on and bring in a one or two year stopgap player like an Ed Reed from the Baltimore Ravens. It’s highly unlikely that the Ravens will be able to keep him with all of their salary cap issues and Reed’s veteran knowledge would be a tremendous asset for a young team. He would carry a substantial price tag, but as a short-term solution, it makes a lot of sense.
For the Rams, their rebuild has been much faster than anticipated, but there is still a long way to go before it can be considered complete. The safety position is just one spot where this team must improve in the season ahead if they want to go from a ‘nice story’ in the NFC West to true contenders during the 2013 campaign.