R is for Risk: Weighing the Rams’ new Draft Philosophy

What seems like an eternity ago during the Devaney and Spagnuolo regime, draft day was tightly regimented, sacrificing athleticism to avoid character risk in draft pick after draft pick. 

A few picks like James Laurinaitis and Rodger Saffold worked out, but the others fell flat and ultimately failed in building the foundation the “four pillars” approach was supposed to provide. 

Enter Les Snead and the new four pillared mantra of St. Louis Rams football: athleticism, risk, potential and speed. 

Beginning with the 2012 draft, the Rams took chances on unfinished products (Michael Brockers) and character risks (Janoris Jenkins), but the gambles paid off. 

The song remained the same as the 2013 first round came to a close as the Rams traded up for West Virginia dynamo Tavon Austin and nabbed Georgia outside linebacker Alec Ogletree with the 30th pick. 

Austin’s detractors cite his diminutive size, predicting injury in the hard hitting NFL. 

But, Snead and Jeff Fisher saw the potential gamebreaker and explosive receiver that dominated defense after defense in college, catching over 100 passes, amassing nearly 3,000 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns. 

Size be damned. 

Ogletree had more significant concerns, finding himself in trouble over and over at Georgia, but his potential is undeniable with ridiculous closing speed and the potential to keep the athletic tight ends and rushing quarterbacks that have proliferated the NFC West in check. 

Character questions be damned. 

It’s obviously too early to judge how Austin and Ogletree will perform in the NFL, but the potential is there, be it to boom or bust. 

Snead has made one thing clear in St. Louis, he’s going by the beat of his own drum and will move up and down in the draft to get the players with the most potential to make the Rams better. 

Some picks will inevitably fizzle out, that’s the reality of the draft, but you have to admire Snead for just taking a chance that Billy Devaney avoided like the plague. 

The four pillars approach is firmly in the rearview mirror and the “R” in Rams stands for a new word: Risk.