In a division that was headlined by the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in 2012, the St. Louis Rams made strides to return to respectability after six straight losing seasons. The Rams defense finished the season tied for the league lead in sacks and went 4-1-1 against the rest of the NFC West. Here’s a look at what they still need to try and keep pace with Seattle and San Francisco next year with the No. 16 and No. 22 picks in the first round.
Running Back: With the departure of franchise all-time leading rusher Steven Jackson to Atlanta, the Rams are left with two mostly unproven options in the backfield. St. Louis drafted Isaiah Pead in the second round last year only to feel more comfortable in seventh round selection Daryl Richardson in the backup role to Jackson. Terrence Ganaway is a big bruising back that could find a role as well, but the Rams need to find a feature back for their offense. Eddie Lacy could be the only running back selected in the first round. St. Louis may be the team that elects to take him.
Wide Receiver: The addition of Jared Cook gives the Rams a much-needed weapon to a passing attack that has been mostly devoid of quality options for quarterback Sam Bradford. However, with the departure of Danny Amendola to New England, the receiving corps remains fairly lacking. The Rams have invested several draft picks to the position in recent years with the selections of Austin Pettis (3rd round, 2011), Brian Quick (2nd round, 2012) and Chris Givens (4th round, 2012) but still are lacking a dynamic threat to command a defense’s attention. The Rams have been evaluating many of the receivers in the class and Tavon Austin of West Virginia could be the selection if he’s still on the board at No. 16.
Safety: Neither of the Rams two starting safeties from last season are still on the roster. Craig Dahl signed with San Francisco and the Rams released Quintin Mikell in March. Darian Stewart is the only remaining safety on the roster to have started a game. Kenny Vaccaro is widely considered the best safety prospect in the draft and might be a strong option for the Rams with one of their two first round selections.
Guard: With the departure of Robert Turner to Tennessee, the Rams need help along the interior offensive line. Harvey Dahl is a serviceable starter but Rokevious Watkins, Shelley Smith and Brandon Washington are largely unproven options. St. Louis could use the middle rounds to add depth to the position.