Team-by-Team Draft Review: St. Louis Rams


The Rams struggled with injuries to the offense in 2014 and a division that was arguably the strongest in the NFL didn’t help them much. They never were able to use Sam Bradford due to injury (shocker) and were scrambling to find continuity on that side of the ball to complement their strong defense. Their first round picks from 2014 are promising as Aaron Donald won the defensive rookie of the year award and Greg Robinson showed flashes early in the season but struggled with a mid-season switch to left tackle. Their progression in year two along with the 2015 class (which focused on offense) could have the team on the precipice of the playoffs. Here are the results, along with some analysis and an undrafted free agent (UDFA) to watch.

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First Round – Todd Gurley, RB Georgia

In the words of Ricky Bobby, “That just happened.” After seeing Tre Mason seize the job in the second half of 2014 and become a dynasty darling in the early parts of this off-season, no one expected the team to go after the top running back in the NFL draft. The main question owners have is around Gurley’s knee injury, something the qualified Dr. Scott Peak covered earlier this off-season. It does mean, for the short-term, Gurley will be behind in acclimating to the team but you don’t pass on a transcendent talent like him because of a potential six game delay to the start of his career.

Gurley is the rare three down back who can run with both speed and power. He doesn’t fumble (three in his college career) and is willing to absorb contact for extra yards (62% of yards in 2014 after contact). Gurley’s abilities in the passing game are above average as well as he is an able pass protector and can catch naturally out of the backfield. Even though he only played 60% of his college games, Gurley still had 65 career catches at nearly 10 yards per reception.

Mason will be the starter for the first half of the season, but if the Rams are in the playoff hunt, I expect them to implement Gurley into the offense more quickly. This team is focused on being a run-heavy team with elite defense in the mold of the division rival Seahawks. Gurley is their Marshawn Lynch and will be seeing 20 plus touches per game once he is healthy and the centerpiece of the offense. Their subsequent picks on the offensive line solidify this point.

Second Round – Rob Havenstein, OT Wisconsin

The Rams, quite simply, have a lot of holes along their offensive line. Four of their five starters are no longer with the team so competition will be fierce outside of Greg Robinson at the blind spot. Havenstein felt like a bit of a reach to me as he was abused for most of the senior bowl practices. He will be an option at right tackle with positive run blocking ability and the aggressive nature you would expect from a Wisconsin offensive lineman. He is not overly athletic, however, and will struggle with the speed of the NFL. The pick may end up providing more depth long-term than a sustainable starter.

Third Round – Jamon Brown, OT Louisville & Sean Mannion, QB Oregon State

Brown was an interesting pick after Havenstein in round two but the Rams must be planning to move one inside to guard. My money would be on Brown, a player with experience at both tackle spots and inside at guard. He has a quick first step, especially if he plays guard, and is a massive player to have to work through as a defender. Brown doesn’t have the lateral ability to play tackle consistently and is still learning to use his length and power. In the Rams’ potential power run scheme, Brown will have a home as an interior mauler.

I preferred Brett Hundley at this point in the NFL draft and I am struggling to find a way to defend this pick. The Rams are building a conservative offense but pick a player who averaged over 20 turnovers per year in his college career. Mannion also has a slow delivery and struggles under pressure, two traits not ideal when operating behind a rebuilding line. When he does get time, Mannion can progress through reads and be an accurate quarterback. At best, he becomes a game manager for a short period of time. At worst, he is a backup who does little of note during his NFL career. Not the kind of upside I am excited about in dynasty.

Fourth Round – Andrew Donnal, OT Iowa

Another offensive lineman for the Rams… sensing a need here? Donnal felt like a reach, even in round four, but has the ability to play at guard or tackle. He is fundamentally sound and is going to do everything he can to make the block and finish a play. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have NFL level athleticism or strength and will struggle to contend with the caliber of player in the NFL. This is a depth pick who can spot start when needed. Nothing more.

Sixth Round – Bud Sasser, WR Missouri & Cody Wichmann, OG Fresno State

After drafting wide receiver over and over again in the past five years (and missing on most), the Rams decided to wait a little longer this time. Sasser is a receiver who can high point a ball, using body control and length (6’2”) to beat defenders in jump ball situations. He doesn’t have much speed and struggles to get separation easily, so he has to rely on technique to get open. The Rams could use a niche player like this as they are populated with speed receivers that prefer deep routes to jump balls. Sasser will still be a long shot to contribute much beyond the occasional reception.

Wichmann makes it four offensive linemen drafted by the Rams. He is a power blocker in every sense of the word(s). Wichmann will not be asked to move around much as he is lacking quickness. At the very least, he will provide depth and some competition for the vacant guard spots along the line.

Seventh Round – Bryce Hager, ILB Baylor & Martin Ifedi, DE Memphis

The Rams finally decided to pick a defensive player, two in fact, to close out their draft. Hager is a developmental player who has some range but will have the luxury of sitting early in his career. Ifedi is that high energy player the Rams like to plug into their defensive front. At best, he’s a rotational guy to give their starters a breather.

UDFA to Watch – Bradley Marquez, WR Texas Tech

It would have been easier to go with Malcolm Brown but I’d rather focus on a player who is a little less known. Marquez was a 4-star football recruit out of high school and was actually drafted to play baseball, but negotiated an agreement to play for Texas Tech in the fall and minor league baseball in the spring. He did leave baseball to focus on football this past season and was second on the team in receptions (65) and led the team with 10 receiving touchdowns. Marquez has the prototypical Rams’ WR size (5’10”, 196 lbs) and has the trademark quickness (6.80 three cone) you would expect the team to covet. He’s worth a watch in a very fluid receiver depth chart as he could make some noise.