2014 NFL Draft: St. Louis Rams Still Need to Add Depth on D

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St. Louis Rams Need Help On Defense In 2014 NFL Draft

St. Louis Rams
Jeff Curry-USA Today Sports

The St. Louis Rams have experienced a rough season offensively and defensively. They have taken a lot of steps to build young talent on the offensive side of the ball. The defense shined on Monday against the Seattle Seahawks when they shut down Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had a recent string of success against the Rams over the past two seasons, but St. Louis came in with strong game plan that had multiple players in the Seahawks backfield all night.

An injury toCortland Finnegan left the Rams shorthanded on cornerbacks. Finnegan's play prior to the injury was less than inspiring, as quarterbacks had recorded a perfect passer rating when throwing at his man. He played much better on Monday night, but it was a night where the defense succeeded as a whole. Janoris Jenkins played much more physically in what was one of his most successful games of the season. Jenkins could have brought in his second interception of the season had he went up to attack the ball at its highest point. Instead, he gave up a costly touchdown. Jenkins is a gambler though, and it will always be a win-some, lose-some situation with him. There are many options at CB in the 2014 Draft that can step in right away or serve a backup role and really be a special teams stud.

The Rams have a lot of young talent, but they should look into draft prospects that could provide an immediate impact as a starter or rotation player. Safety is still an area of high concern for the Rams with T.J. McDonald out. St. Louis is in definite need of a center-field type safety that can cover a wide area against passes. This has been a killer for them over the past few seasons. It has a lot to do with their struggles against the deep ball.

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6. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU

Anthony Johnson
Derrick E. Hingle-USA Today Sports

Anthony Johnson is most likely going to go in the first round of the draft. His level of play at LSU certainly helps his case as he faces NFL-caliber lineman on a weekly basis. Johnson is also extremely athletic and explosive off the snap. He has the ability to get into the backfield at any time, using his quickness to blow by slower guards and centers. He might not have the strength to be a run-stuffing DT, but his ability to get into the backfield could disrupt run and pass plays alike. St. Louis has DEs that get to the quarterback, so they really just need a force up the middle that can collapse the pocket and take up space. Johnson may not be the ideal fit, but he could provide a lot of help as a backup.

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5. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

Louis Nix
Matt Cashore-USA Today Sports

Louis Nix is the large-bodied run stuffer that 3-4 teams like to line up at NT. He may not fit into the Rams' current scheme, but he could be a lane-filler against teams that utilize the run. He is surprisingly athletic for his size, which helps. His conditioning is the biggest question that he will face and that's understandable. He utilizes his strength to his advantage on straight bull rushes. If St. Louis could fit him into their rotation, he could help their run defense that has struggled almost all year long. Most teams will think that they can get him into better shape to keep him in for more plays, so as long as he stays healthy this year, he could be an early DT off the board come April.

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4. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Bradley Roby
Andrew Weber-USA Today Sports

St. Louis could use a standout corner that can shut down the top receivers they are going to face every year. St. Louis is relying on their current young CBs to develop fully soon, but that is a dangerous way to live. St. Louis has a chance to add depth and possibly an impact corner and special teams player in the draft.

Bradley Roby has the top-end speed, reportedly running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. He shows ideal agility and closing speed at the college level that translates when his natural instincts are added to it. While Roby is excellent in coverage, he has a lack of interceptions, preferring to slap the ball away. He is a willing body on run defense and attacks the middle of the field. He would definitely be able to step in on special teams immediately and make an impact as a cover guy and returner. With all of the penalties St. Louis has racked up on special teams, they need all of the help they can get.

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3. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida

Loucheiz Purifoy
John David Mercer-USA Today Sports

Loucheiz Purifoy has all of the speed a team could ask for out of a corner. He is an electrifying playmaker on special teams and being that he plays on offense at times, he seems to have some ball skills. It is hard to know that for sure because teams so rarely throw towards his direction. He didn't have a single interception coming into this season, so he will need to rack up some interceptions to lock up the no. 1 corner slot.

at 6-foot-1, he is a good height, but the 189 pounds on his frame could allow him to be bullied by bigger receivers at the NFL level. Purifoy has shown great discipline on routes, not cheating or jumping them too soon. This is the area where Jenkins struggles the most, so it could really help if Jenkins didn't have to always have to face a team's no. 1 receiver. Purifoy will most likely step in immediately as as returner for any team he goes to. He could be one of the few returners in the league that could run a kick all the way back any time he touches the ball. St. Louis will have to take him early in the first round as he looks to be the first corner selected in 2014.

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2. Ed Reynolds, Safety, Stanford

Ed Reynolds
Kelley L Cox-USA Today Sports

Ed Reynolds is an instinctual football player. He is not the fast guy on the field, but he reads the quarterback's eyes well and has played like a center-fielder at the college level. If the Rams believe his college play will translate to the NFL, then he could be a steal early in the second round. Attempting to wait longer could prove to be a heartbreaking move. His natural ability to read QBs sets him up for interceptions and pass deflections, which is something St. Louis has lacked from the safety position for a long time. McDonald's pre-injury play was promising, but it was evident that he wasn't ready. The Rams should keep an eye on Reynolds for the rest of the year. He will have to prove he is a willing body in run support and that he can cover slot receivers and tight ends in man coverage.

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1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Andrew Weber-USA Today Sports

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is one of the many NFL prospects that fill the University of Alabama's roster. I find it particularly difficult for teams to really be accurate scouting players that are surrounded by supreme talent. When they have a strong supporting cast, their mistakes are covered up. Bama's ability to produce NFL talent is not something to be dismissed. Most of their defensive players sit as freshmen, play backup roles as sophomores, and then once they have earned it, they start for the Roll Tide's fearsome D.

Clinton-Dix will probably use his Alabama ties to launch himself into the first round. He is nearly a complete package of explosiveness, speed and size. He hasn't show a lot of the big-hitter traits though. Teams are still looking for a safety that will pose a threat to WRs and TEs. He spent most of last season only playing on passing downs, so this year is his chance to prove he can at least help in run support. If he was trusted to play in the deep part of the field for Alabama, then he is definitely the center-field type safety that St. Louis has been desperate for.


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