Through four games, the St. Louis Rams, thought to be a dark horse in the ultra-competitive NFC West, are a disappointing 1-3. Now, blame could be thrown in a lot of directions, but arguably the most glaring team deficiency thus far has been the lack of a ground game offensively. It’s becoming more and more apparent the Rams need to find Steven Jackson‘s true replacement in the 2014 NFL Draft.
It was thought that Rams would be able to replace Jackson, the franchise’s all-time leader in rushing attempts and yards, with a running back-by-committee approach. Surely, the production of Jackson, who finished last year with his eighth consecutive 1,000-plus yard season, could be replaced with the likes of Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham and Chase Reynolds, right?
Wrong. Through four games, the Rams have accumulated 189 yards rushing, good for 47 yards per game, with a miserable 2.6 yards per carry. Oh, and they still haven’t scored a rushing touchdown yet. The draft will be the perfect place to solve this problem.
There’s quite a few running backs in the upcoming draft who would be a perfect fit for Jeff Fisher‘s offense. Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) has been making the case that he should be the first running back selected with 417 yards rushing and six touchdowns on only 38 carries.
De’Anthony Thomas (Oregon) could be the most electric player in the entire draft, and instantly provide a game-breaking threat offensively to pair with receiver Tavon Austin. Still, Fisher has always wanted a guy who can pound up the middle if need be, and Thomas is anything but that.
Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona) would be an outstanding fit for the Rams given he’s a threat both inside and out and also can catch the ball well out of the backfield. James Wilder (Florida State) could also be in the mix potentially in the second or third rounds. He’s got outstanding size (6-foot-1, 230-pounds), and plays similarly to how Jackson used to play.
The bottom line is that there’s a plethora of backs the Rams could take. When they take them is the real question. At this point, the Rams are looking at a top-10 pick, which would be way too high to take any running back. What they could do, and what they should do, is trade their second first-round pick (thanks, Washington Redskins!) down to a team looking to draft a quarterback (Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, etc.).
Considering the Rams’ second first-rounder could also be a top-10 pick (Redskins look awful this year), they could get a lot of value for it.
At the minimum, the Rams would get a second and third, potentially even a first, and they could find their next stud running back while also continuing to build up their underachieving receiving corps.