Last week we weighed the St Louis Rams' top needs that we'd like to see addressed in the 2013 NFL Draft. But of course, every draft class is different, and none come with a perfect set of players jigsaw-cut to fill any one team's roster holes precisely.
With that in mind, we reached out to Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting, a fantastic draft resource here on the Bloguin network. He and his team work year-round on draft content, and they will be providing us with their perspective on this year's draft class over the coming months.
Here is our first Q&A.
RamsHerd: The Rams’ primary needs look like right tackle, left guard, free safety and wide receiver (not necessarily in that order). How deep is the draft class at each position?
Optimum Scouting: With Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews both returning to school, this class lacks as much as expected offensive tackle talent. Now, it seems after Luke Joeckel (Top 5) and Eric Fisher (likely Top 10), the class moves more towards right tackle only. But there’s quite a bit of depth there, especially in the mid-late first round. Guys like Justin Pugh, DJ Fluker, and Lane Johnson could all go into that mix.
At guard, Jonathan Cooper of UNC may be in reach of the Rams, and he could be an impact interior presence. But after the top 40 picks, the guard class goes downhill fast, and the value then develops again in the late 4th round.
There’s loads of free safety talent in the 2nd-3rd round area. Eric Reid (LSU), Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse), Bacarri Rambo (Georgia), and Zeke Motta (Notre Dame) can all have value in that area.
And at receiver, even after investing heavily at receiver in the past two drafts, the Rams would be wise to capitalize on the receiver depth. We have close to 20 receivers with top three round grades. While they may change, it’s clear that, despite lacking an AJ Green/Julio Jones/Calvin Johnson type player, this class has loads of upside and depth.
RamsHerd: The East-West Shrine Game is coming up. Which players do you expect to catch your eye?
Optimum Scouting: While we’ll have a few preview on our site of both teams, both offense and defense, there are a few prospects that could be huge risers after this week.
At the skill positions, Matt Scott (Arizona QB), Marcus Davis (VaTech WR), Zac Stacy (Vanderbilt RB),and DC Jefferson (Rutgers TE). Offensive linemen Manase Foketi (West Texas A&M), Terron Armstead (Arkansas Pine-Bluff), and Dann O’Neil (Western Michigan) all could rise up to be 3rd-4th round offensive tackles, and maybe even higher.
And on defense, we're looking forward to watching Mike Catapano (Princeton DE), Lerenetee McCray (Florida DE), DeVonte Holloman (S.Carolina OLB), Robert McCabe (Georgetown ILB), Josh Johnson (Purdue CB), Terry Hawthorne (Illinois CB), and Cooper Taylor (Richmond SS).
RamsHerd: Jeff Fisher manages to take a cornerback in nearly every draft, regardless of need. He has two starters under 6’ in Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan. Do you see any CBs with good tackle skills and playmaking instincts slipping to later rounds this year because they might be undersized?
Optimum Scouting: Starting at the 3rd round value, two guys come to mind. One is Adrian Bushell of Louisville. Feisty, aggressive, physical against bigger receivers, and finishes tackles on the outside, Bushell could work his way as high as the 3rd round. And, while he may be a bit too small, Oklahoma State’s Brodrick Brown fits that role as well. With a good workout, he could work his way to the 3rd-4th round as well.
And, of course, Tyrann Mathieu fits that mold, but he has more severe mental/character concerns than Janoris Jenkins had last year. Still, Jeff Fisher could consider him another character “project”, especially how well things worked this year with Jenkins.
Related: Optimum Scouting CB rankings
Our thanks to Eric for his time. You can and should follow him on Twitter at @OptimumScouting for real-time thoughts and updates on the NFL Draft.