It’s an age old question when it comes to the NFL Draft, and teams continue to struggle with finding the answer. Weighing upside and potential against a player with a proven record of ability is a difficult task when it comes to evaluating Player A vs. Player B. Though the names change every year, the chore of deciding just which player carries the least risk or the highest reward remains very much the same.
The 2014 NFL Draft will present such a dilemma to the St. Louis Rams at the No. 2 overall pick as the team will likely be weighing its options from now until May 8 when round one takes place. It’s obvious St. Louis would prefer to trade down if at all possible from their perch at No. 2 overall courtesy of the Washington Redskins, but sometimes the draft doesn’t work out that way.
If the Rams are forced to stay at No. 2 overall and make a pick, chances are that selection will be either Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson (and upside) or Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews (and proven ability).
Most draft analysts can agree that Robinson has the superior ceiling having only played a limited number of snaps thus far in his career, but he is very inexperienced as a pass blocker which doesn’t exactly fit the left tackle mold. What he does have working in his favor is an innate ability to latch onto defenders and just bowl them backwards. He is a true mauler in every sense of the word, but playing in a run-first attack with Auburn where the team ran abnormally wide splits along the line could present a big learning curve for him at the next level.
And then we have Matthews who has the pedigree associated with his last name from his father, Bruce Matthews, who played for Jeff Fisher with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise. When someone’s father was a 14-time Pro Bowler it’s difficult to ignore, but add in the fact that the younger Matthews was named an All-American two years running and that only further solidifies his status. The main question is whether or not he has maxed out his talents already or still has the ability to further develop as a player. That query will likely determine just which way the Rams lean if forced to make a selection at their current No. 2 overall spot in May.
Jake Long’s torn ACL and MCL in Week 16 certainly complicates matters further for the Rams this offseason at left tackle, and the fact that Rodger Saffold is also an impending free agent makes this a crucial decision for the franchise’s future. There’s always an immense amount of pressure on any early draft selection, but this particular choice will be extremely important to the team moving forward. Something tells me coach Fisher’s ties to the Matthews family will win out if the Rams are forced to make a choice early in the draft. Most of the time it pays to not try to outthink the room, and taking Robinson over Matthews would seem like the textbook definition of that mistake.