It would be very Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams to throw a classic curveball pitch to fans at the 2013 NFL Draft. The team’s direction was relatively unpredictable heading into last year’s selection festivities, and although the needs seem a bit more cut and dry this time around, that doesn’t necessarily dictate where the Rams will go in round one.
Many believed at the onset of the pre-draft talk that the Rams would be looking for an offensive lineman. That still could happen, but the signing of Jake Long in free agency suggests otherwise along with the fact that Fisher-led clubs have never (that’s right, NEVER) selected an offensive lineman in round one. Safety and wide receiver seem to be the two big areas of concern, but sometimes the depth chart doesn’t dictate just what happens when a team is placed on the clock.
Last year, opting for Michael Brockers was a strange pick after trading down twice. The Rams could have had the top corner, safety, or linebacker in the draft had they stayed put, but instead they moved down to take a player they had more confidence in.
Two first rounders this year will allow the team to be creative once again, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they looked at filling a need at outside linebacker. Arthur Brown from Kansas State has visited the team already which certainly hints at some interest in the athletic defender. At just 6’0” 241lbs. Brown is one of the smaller linebackers in this year’s class, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still make plays going sideline to sideline. He can get neutralized by bigger blockers, but he is arguably the best coverage linebacker in this entire class. His skill set would perfectly complement what the Rams currently have at linebacker in James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar who are better taking on and shedding blockers.
As far as outside linebacker prospects go, some value Alec Ogletree more than Brown due to pure athleticism. Off-field issues with Ogletree are a concern, but that hasn’t deterred the Rams in the past. Upside could push him up the board however in round one and it remains to be seen just how big of a gamble the Rams are willing to take.
In the end, Arthur Brown could come in and start from day one on the outside for the linebacking corps. His selection would go right along with the off the radar trend that the Rams had last year and fit perfectly into General Manager Les Snead’s philosophy of finding a player to fill a want not a need. The Rams want a player who can excel in coverage at the linebacker spot as well as display sideline to sideline athleticism. Don’t be surprised is Brown is that player in a little over a week when the draft finally arrives.