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Comparing two 7-round mock drafts: Which path will the Rams take?

Two prominent 7-round mock drafts were conducted recently — one a marathon produced by New Era Scouting, the other a wide-open sprint with 32 participants on Twitter each acting as an assigned GM for their team. working under the hashtag #MockOne. The Rams were represented by Tyson Langland of Pro Football Focus.

The two drafts featured widely divergent paths for the Rams, prompting a side-by-side comparison and contrast. How would each draft approach affect our team’s fate in 2011 and beyond?

Round One 

New Era Scouting

MockOne CheckMark

1.14: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue

“Kerrigan’s stock is rising lately with a strong showing at the NFL combine and his pro day. Kerrigan alone was the reason 23 teams attended the Purdue pro day, and he did not disappoint.

St. Louis needs a wide receiver and might also like to see an outside linebacker here, but they will be ecstatic with Kerrigan coming off the edge opposite Chris Long.”

*1.11: WR Julio Jones, Alabama

“At number 11 the Texans were strongly considering taking Julio Jones and pairing him with Andre Johnson for years to come. Whether that was a smokescreen or the interest was genuinely there, I was not willing to take any chances…

Going into the draft I was among the few who felt wide receiver was not our number one priority, but when it came right down to it I always thought back to the Week 17 Seattle game where our wide receivers left play after play on the field.

* St Louis trades picks 1.14 and 3.78 to Houston Texans for pick 1.11

Still on the board: Aldon Smith, Cameron Jordan, Corey Liuget.

Still on the board: does it matter?

Right away, you’ll see a fundamental difference in drafts. New Era’s 7-rounder stuck to the official draft order, while the phone lines between GMs in MockOne were wide open. (The follow-up to MockOne, appropriately named #MockTwo, does not allow trades.) As such, Tyson pinned his ears back and went looking for deals, finding a match with the Texans to nab his man. Our man.

I may be biased in favor of any scenario that involves picking Julio Jones, but I do have question marks about the New Era pick of Kerrigan, who seems like more of a duplicate of Long than a complement. NFLDraftScout.com writes that “Kerrigan is working hard to shed the label of being an ‘effort’ player,” but that is still a pretty widely held perception. I will say I prefer Kerrigan to JJ Watt or Cameron Jordan, but not over Aldon Smith (and his seven foot wingspan), who I mocked to the Rams in our own non-Julio scenario. In a case of personal preference, I would choose potential over polish at this spot. 

 

Round Two

New Era ScoutingCheckMark

MockOneCheckMark

2.47: WR Randall Cobb, Kentucky

“Cobb is a dynamic receiver with outstanding ability to make plays with the ball. He will also give St. Louis an upgrade as a punt returner.

Much like Eddie Royal was for Denver in Mike Shanahan’s last year there, Cobb is an electric player who can contribute as a rookie.”

*2.51: OLB Mason Foster, Washington

Every year the Rams play musical chairs at outside linebacker, so it was a position of high importance.  Mason Foster has a nose for the football and knack for being in on every play. Projected to be a late round pick after his junior season, but with 162 tackles, seven sacks and an impressive pro-day, he has easily climbed into the second round. Mason has the ability to be a stout run defender with the speed to cover if needed.

* St Louis trades 2.47 to Miami for 2.51 and a 2012 4th round pick.

Still on the board: G Marcus Cannon, S Rahim Moore, WRs Torrey Smith, Hankerson, Baldwin, Young

Still on the board: DT Drake Nevis, S Rahim Moore, CB Ras-I Dowling, G John Moffit

Perhaps an early choice in Foster, who dropped to the end of the third round in the New Era mock, but an intriguing player who profiles as a tackling machine. We posted a full writeup on Foster last week. Meanwhile, New Era’s selection of Cobb over the more-heralded group of second-tier receivers is gutsy to say the least, but Cobb is another player rapidly rising up many draft boards with his after-the-catch ability. Read more about the multi-threat star

Both players are potentially risky value picks, but both have exciting potential based on their football instincts. Bonus points to Tyson for picking up an extra 2012 pick and still getting his man. 

Round Three

New Era Scouting

MockOneCheckMark

3.78: TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee

“The Rams continue to find sleepers in the middle of the round. Stocker will fill a key hole in St. Louis and aid quarterback Sam Bradford in the red zone.”

*3.78: No pick

Still on the board: CB Marcus Gilchrist, LB Mason Foster, S Jaiquawn Jarret

Still on the board: T/G Will Rackley, DT Kenrick Ellis, S Jaiquawn Jarrett, RB Daniel Thomas

Frankly, it’s a real surprise to see TE targeted here, as we have decent depth and potential at the position already with Hoomanawanui, Fells, Bajema and Onobun. And, there are questions about Josh McDaniels’ usage of TEs in his offense. But playing the “best talent available” game, Stocker is a heck of a player to fall this far. (Even though he fell much further in the MockOne draft.)

This pick probably means the end of the Fendi Onobun experiment, though, which I don’t think too many Rams fans would be happy about. But seeing as you already have a sure-thing at quarterback, I understand the desire to land a “sure thing” and fringe first-round talent as a weapon to throw to. A tough spot for the Rams GM here, with other needs much more pressing. I can go both ways on this pick, though, and it deserves to be seen from the long view. 

Meanwhile, how can I give a positive mark to Tyson’s non-pick? Because this was the cannon fodder used to land Julio Jones, a draft strategy that I am fully behind.  

Round Four

New Era ScoutingCheckMark

MockOneCheckMark

4.112: RB Kendall Hunter, Ok State

“The Rams have an All-Pro back in Steven Jackson, but years of constant wear and tear are weighing on him. Hunter will give Jackson a legitimate back-up and gives the Rams an explosive player who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.”

4.112: RB Shane Vereen, Cal

The last semi-productive backup running back in St. Louis was an over the hill Stephen Davis. This year everything fell into place. Shane Vereen was exactly what we were looking for, a productive change of pace back that can spell Steven Jackson effectively. Shane is not a well-known commodity among most fans and has not produced much draft buzz, but many scouts feel like he has a very high ceiling. Even with the limited reps he will see as Jackson’s backup it’s easy to see he can become an impact player.

 

Still on the board: G John Moffitt & Stephen Schilling, S Ahmad Black & Jaiquawn Jarrett

Still on the board: CB Kendric Burney, RB Kendall Hunter & DeMarco Murray, TE Luke Stocker

Intriguing to see both drafts find good values at RB here, though given a choice I would prefer the MockOne edition that has Vereen falling this far. Sadly, the New Era draft may be more realistic, as Vereen was off the board before the Rams’ third round pick. Either way the Rams are getting a potentially very nice player and value in the 4th. Interesting to see New Era following a plan of stockpiling offensive weapons after addressing the D-line in the first.

Round Five

New Era Scouting

MockOne

5.145: FS Chris Culliver, South Carolina

“The Rams lost safety OJ Atogwe before the CBA expired in a salary cap move. Replacing him will be a key to the Rams mid-to-late round picks”

 

5.145: G Stephen Schilling, Michigan

Offensive guard was utterly disappointing last season, specifically right guard. Early in the season the Rams had Adam Goldberg and John Greco rotating series. When injuries struck Greco the rotation ended at right guard and so did any of the positive play.

Schilling is the 5th best-rated guard on National Football Post and undervalued by others. We liked the fact that he started two years at tackle and two years at guard. Schilling has the opportunity to push for playing time and maybe even start if he continues to work on his pass protection skills.

Culliver is a part of a run on late-round safeties in the New Era mock, with Ahmad Black and Jaiquawn Jarrett coming off the board just before this pick. Culliver is intriguing but perhaps too good of an Atogwe replacement, an athletic player with coverage skills but poor tackling chops and a penchant for peeking in at the quarterback. Schilling may be a nice value pick here, as he was gone late in the 4th round in the New Era Mock, but any troubles in pass protection will have him filling Greco’s shoes – on the bench. You just have to hope Greco is ready to fill Goldberg’s shoes in the starting lineup. 

As fifth-round players go, you at least want to fill a need, and both picks do. I may be selling Schilling short here, but I think it’s fair to question whether either will provide impact in 2011. 

Round Six

New Era ScoutingCheckMark

MockOne

6.180: DT Terrell McClain, USF

“Remember this name. McClain is a disruptive interior defensive lineman who can make plays when asked to penetrate gaps and pressure the backfield. He has a serious chance to become a late-round sleeper from this class.”

*6.180: no pick

* St Louis trades 6.180 to Baltimore for 7.228 and a low 2012 pick.

Here’s one that should make Rams fans happy — McClain falling to the sixth gives the Rams great value for a player they are known to be interested in. I also like the decision to double down on the defensive line with three-down players, reducing the need for so many rotating bodies.

Meanwhile, I’m scratching my head at this trade in MockOne. The Rams gave up only 17 points of draft value in this deal with Baltimore, sliding down near Mr. Irrelevant, but I’d much rather have a player of McClain’s ilk in the fold now than 17 points of 2012 draft value. (However, in Tyson’s defense here, pickings were slim in areas of need for the Rams here.)

Correction: The Rams traded this pick to Baltimore last offseason, acquiring Mark Clayton after the Ravens traded for TJ Houshmandzadeh. This nixes what would have been a great value pick in McClain.   

Round Seven

New Era Scouting

MockOne

7.216: SS Nate Williams, Washington

“The Rams can afford to draft a wide receiver or defensive back with their final choice in the 2011 NFL Draft. Williams is a depth-level player who can offer some support on special teams.”

7.216: DT Cory Grant, TCU

*7.228: DE Eddie Jones, Texas

“Cory is a player we expect to make his way into the defensive line rotation right away. His ability to eat up space and anchor the line gives him the opportunity to be a two-down run defender.

“Eddie Jones is a hard guy to judge considering he only made eight collegiate starts. The kid is flat out fast; he runs a 4.66 40-yard dash and is violently explosive off the ball. 2010 was his only year as a part-time starter and he impressed when he could by tallying six sacks and nine tackles for loss.”

In the tail end of the seventh round, Tyson finally addresses our defensive line, adding players that may be only camp competition for the likes of Eugene Sims and George Selvie. Meanwhile, New Era gives us another camp body who might at least be able to level some hits on special teams, an area of continued importance and improvement in St Louis. However, it would have been fun to see a player like Ricardo Lockette’s name called here – New Era mocked him to the Seahawks thirteen picks later. 

No obvious steals here, but a contrast between a conservative approach to add value incrementally with a player like Williams, versus being willing to swing and miss on some high heat with a player like Jones.


 

Recap:

In the absence of a potential Julio Jones deal, New Era went conservative with their first-rounder, then took some bigger risks in rounds two and three. If those picks pan out we have a balanced and sensible approach toward team-building, though we’re relying on Cobb for fireworks. Day three of the draft goes very well, especially with Terrell McClain a surprise find. I’d imagine literal skipping up to the podium in that scenario. 

It’s hard not to love the top of the MockOne draft for the Rams, by comparison, and Mason Foster is an underrated find, but we’re taking a huge risk defensively by standing pat on the defensive line. While Chris Long still has room for improvement, we’re crossing our fingers on Fred Robbins and James Hall, who combined are almost 70 years old. (Cheap shot, but still.) It’s in scenarios like these that we can appreciate the sometimes hidden costs of trading up. 

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