When St. Louis Rams General Manager Les Snead proclaimed that the team would be focusing more on wants rather than needs around the time of the NFL Scouting Combine, that didn’t mean the franchise would preclude address needs from their upcoming draft haul. Snead feels that the more fixated a team becomes on needs; the less likely they are to make sound football decisions regarding players. Mock drafts don’t seem to be taking his insights into account.
Most mocks at this point in time (mine too, guilty as charged) show the Rams selecting some combination of wide receiver and safety with their two picks in round one of 16 and 22 overall. While these selections would fortify to weak areas of the depth chart, the team doesn’t necessarily have to add those insulators in the first round. As we’ve pointed out, there will be plenty of options available at the wide receiver spot for the Rams as the draft progresses. Even though safety may not be considered as deep, there still could be players available in round two to fill that need.
Last year, pre-draft visits were a fairly good indicator of which way the Rams would be leaning in the upcoming draft. Both first round pick Michael Brockers and second round steal Janoris Jenkins visited the team. This time around, receivers, running backs, linebackers, and offensive guards are all over the place on the Rams’ list of visitors, but still no safeties have made the trip. This could suggest that the team is thinking less along the lines of those in the mainstream and more independently on the subject.
In the 2012 draft, Brockers was not projected to go to the Rams. Now granted, part of that was due to the fact that they traded down to select him, but also because not many saw defensive tackle as a primary team need. It seems that the linebacker position falls right into that category this time around.
Most recognize a deficiency at linebacker in terms of depth for the Rams, but analysts are very reluctant to project one to them in the first round. My suggestion to expect that unexpected from the team comes from their previous track record as well as Jeff Fisher’s tendencies as a head coach to go off of the radar when discussing potential picks with the GM. This year is setting up to be yet another repeat performance.
In short, don’t discount the linebacker spot as a real possibility for the Rams with their 16th overall selection. Even though Alec Ogletree has some off-field issues, Fisher and Snead haven’t shied away from potential headaches in the past if they believe the potential reward to be worthwhile. The mocks might not be projecting things this way, but you have to believe that if Ogletree is available in the middle of round one, the Rams will take a long, hard look at the talented linebacker.