With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Next up is the St. Louis Rams. The Rams have 12 selections overall and two picks in the first 13 selections of the draft thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade. It should give the Rams ample opportunity to fill some of the glaring holes on the roster.
Safety: The Rams invested a third-round pick on T.J. McDonald last season but could still use more help at the safety position. McDonald missed six games due to a broken leg last year and struggled at times to find his footing during his rookie campaign. Fellow starter Rodney McLeod is back as well but also had issues in coverage at times. The Rams’ defense has continued to improve with one of the most potent pass rush tandems in the game in Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Shoring up the back-end of the defense could make the front four even more imposing as well.
Tackle: It feels like the Rams have been in need of upgrading their offensive line for about a decade. This year is no different. Jake Long is still penciled in as the starter at left tackle but he’s also coming back from ACL and MCL tears. St. Louis re-signed Rodger Saffold but the Rams are expected to move him inside the guard. Joe Barksdale started 13 games last season and remains a potential fit at right tackle at least as a fall back option. However, the Rams could use an upgrade at the position.
In addition, Long’s cap number sky-rockets in 2015 and he could be a cap casualty next offseason. Any tackle selected by St. Louis could fill the hole at right tackle this year before potentially replacing Long on the left side next season.
Outside Linebacker: James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree have locked down two of the starting jobs at linebacker, but the Rams could use an upgrade at their other starting position. Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Will Witherspoon struggled at times last season in that role. Dunbar remains on the roster but Witherspoon has not been re-signed and remains a free agent. The remaining group of linebackers have very little experience and depth could use upgrading as well.
Cornerback: At the very least, the Rams need to add depth at cornerback. Janoris Jenkins has shown promise in his first two seasons and Trumaine Johnson has been a solid third cornerback. But with the departure of Cortland Finnegan, the Rams need to add another player that can challenge Johnson for the starting job. With just five cornerbacks currently under contract – and one in trouble off the field – St. Louis could add a couple cornerbacks to the roster in the draft.
Wide Receiver: The Rams aren’t lacking in options at receiver. They’ve invested significantly on receivers in the draft as five receivers have been selected in the first four rounds in the last three years: Tavon Austin (1st round, 2013), Stedman Bailey (3rd round, 2013) Austin Pettis (3rd round, 2011), Brian Quick (2nd round, 2012) and Chris Givens (4th round, 2012). They also signed former Tennessee first round pick Kenny Britt this offseason.
Despite all those additions, they are still lacking a true top flight No. 1 option at receiver. However, if they don’t jump on a receiver early that they believe could be that kind of player – perhaps Clemson’s Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M’s Mike Evans – they made decided to stand pat with their current stable of options.