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NFL Draft Round 1:The Rams Trade Down, Load Up on Picks

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Michael Brockers, Rams draft pick and sharp-dressed man. 
Yesterday I wrote about the options for the Rams at number six in the NFL draft. I concluded there were essentially only four players the Rams could really be considering for their first round pick: Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson, Matt Kalil (whose name I misspelled on at least three occasions; in my mind his name should be spelled the same as Khalil Greene's first name), and Morris Claiborne. No way the Rams end up with anyone else but one of those four, I said. Those guys, along with the two quarterbacks at the top, are far and away the best players in this draft, and the Rams can't possible pass on any one of them for some other player. 

The Rams drafted Michael Brockers, a defensive tackle out of LSU. So, you know, clearly there's no way they were going to end up with some player not in that top group of four. 

Sigh. I have no idea what I'm doing. 


To be fair, the Rams didn't actually stay in their slot and take Brockers; they executed a trade to switch picks with the Dallas Cowboys, dropping down to fourteenth and picking up an extra second round pick in return. 

I have to say, as much as I'm not a huge fan of the new regime down at Rams Park, this was a borderline brilliant move. The extra pick will be huge as Jeff Fisher and Les Snead attempt to reconstruct a roster with a large number of holes. I will say I think Claiborne, the cornerback Dallas ultimately selected with that number six pick, would have been an outstanding addition to the Rams' roster; I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers the nightmare we saw in the secondary last season. Even so, the value of the extra pick can't be overstated. 

As for the pick itself, I like Brockers. He's a physical monster, and still has some room to develop. He declared for the draft as a redshirt sophomore, and is still relatively raw for a draftable player. A little bit in the same vein as the Rams' 2011 first round pick, Robert Quinn, come to think of it. In Quinn's case he missed a season due to NCAA suspension, while Brockers is just young, but the end result is similar. Both are extraordinary physical talents who are seen as long-term projects to a certain extent. And just like in Quinn's case, the potential payoff with Brockers could be enormous. 

He doesn't have a whole lot yet in the way of pass-rushing moves, something that he will need to learn if he is to become a real threat to reach the quarterback. As far as run defense goes, though, Brockers is already a stout presence in the middle. He pushes the pocket well and pressures the center of the offensive line, something the Rams struggled to do at all effectively in 2011. Particularly once Fred Robbins got hurt, the Rams' D line just had absolutely no luck forcing the issue in the middle part of the field. Brockers should go a long way toward addressing that. 

Philosophically, I love what the Rams did here. They gave up a chance at what I think will be a really great player, but they still managed to snag an enormous talent at a huge position of need, and they did so while grabbing an extra high-ish draft pick to aid in the rebuild. Beautiful job all around. 

As for where the Rams go from here, they have three picks in the top half of the second round, an enormous bounty to play with. Wide receiver is still a big need, obviously, as is corner. Offensive guard is a direction I would look immediately; there are a couple of very good interior O linemen available I would take a long, hard look at. A running back has to be a priority at this point, as well. 

My own personal preference would be for the Rams to look at one of either Peter Konz, a center from Wisconsin, or Cordy Glenn, a guard out of Georgia. Both would help solidify the inside of the Rams' line and improve the running game immensely. I really like Coby Fleener, the tight end out of Stanford, but I'm not sure that's a priority for the Rams right now. 

You would have to think the Rams will try to address wide receiver with at least one pick, and there are several very good options still available. Rueben Randle from LSU and Stephen Hill out of Georgia Tech are considered the top two guys out there; both are big, strong receivers capable of beating teams downfield but who function better in the possession game. Randle's production has been better to date, but Hill has a rare combination of physical tools. Alshon Jeffery out of South Carolina started off this past season as perhaps the top receiver in the entire draft, but he bulked up before the season started and looked a step slow. There has been some talk of converting him to sort of hybrid tight end if he gets any bigger, which would certainly create matchup problems for linebackers all over the league. 

Just a few more hours and the second round will begin. The Rams did some excellent work yesterday getting a guy they wanted and picking up an extra draft pick in the process. Tonight we'll get to see how well that extra pick pays off. 

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