We’re now into the last month of the NFL regular season. There’s still plenty of football to play and many teams remain in the playoff hunt. In the meantime, team scouts and general managers of all 32 teams are already feverishly planning for the 2016 NFL Draft in April. It’s never too early to take a peek at college football players, assess potential Rams needs and speculate about who the Rams may be interested in drafting come April.
St. Louis Rams Current Roster & Depth Chart
|C||Tim Barnes||Demetrius Rhaney||Eric Kush|
|RG||Cody Wichmann||Brian Folkerts|
|RT||Rob Havenstein||Andrew Donnal|
|LT||Greg Robinson||Isaiah Battle|
|TE||Lance Kendricks||Cory Harkey|
|WR||Tavon Austin||Wes Welker||Bradley Marquez|
|WR||Kenny Britt||Brian Quick|
|RB||Tre Mason||Benny Cunningham|
|RB||Todd Gurley||Chase Reynolds|
|QB||Case Keenum||Nick Foles||Sean Mannion|
|DT||Aaron Donald||Nick Fairley||Louis Trinca-Pasat|
|DT||Michael Brockers||Ethan Westbrooks||Doug Worthington|
|DE||Chris Long||Eugene Sims|
|DE||William Hayes||Matt Longacre|
|MLB||James Laurinaitis||Bryce Hager|
|OLB||Mark Barron||Daren Bates|
|OLB||Akeem Ayers||Cameron Lynch|
|CB||Janoris Jenkins||Marcus Roberson||Eric Patterson|
|CB||Trumaine Johnson||Lamarcus Joyner|
|SS||Maurice Alexander||Christian Bryant|
|FS||Rodney McLeod||Cody Davis|
|Practice Squad||Injured Reserve||IR/Designated To Return|
|LB Zack Hodges||CB E.J. Gaines||OLB Alec Ogletree|
|LB Matthew Wells||OG Rodger Saffold|
|CB Melvin White||WR Isiah Ferguson||Reserve/Suspended|
|RB Malcolm Brown||OT Darrell Williams|
|FB Zach Laskey||OG Jamon Brown||RB Trey Watts|
|TE Justice Cunningham||SS Tim McDonald Jr.|
|WR Nick Toon||DE Robert Quinn||Reserve/NFI|
|WR J.J. Worton|
|OG David Arkin||WR Stedman Bailey|
|72 Players Total|
St. Louis Rams 2016 Free Agents
The following 25 players are currently eligible for Free Agency in 2016 (after this season). ERFA’s (Exclusive Rights Free Agents) have two or less accrued years in the league. RFA’s (Restricted Free Agents) have three accrued years in the league. UFA’s (Unrestricted Free Agents) have 4 or more accrued years in the league. In each instance, their contracts will have been fulfilled at the end of this season.
Ranking The Rams’ 2016 Positional Needs
The Rams’ 2016 positional needs are ranked using the following criteria: potential Free Agent losses, positions in need of upgrades and assessments of existing roster players.
2016 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams – 7 Rounds
The accompanying chart presents the Rams’ 5 selections over 6 rounds in this 2016 NFL Mock Draft. The Rams forfeited their 5th round pick when they selected Isaiah Battle in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Supplemental Draft. Their 7th round selection was traded to the Houston Texans for QB Case Keenum. The Rams received Philadelphia’s 2nd round pick in the Sam Bradford/Nick Foles trade. My preliminary calculations suggest the Rams will not be receiving any compensatory picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. The draft order (#10) is an estimate based on the Rams’ projected regular season record.
In this mock draft, the Rams trade 2016 2nd and 3rd round picks, plus a 2017 2nd round selection, to move up from #41 to #16. The trade is reminiscent of the one the Rams attempted to pull off in 2014 to secure OL Zack Martin. In my last published mock draft, the Rams did not address the QB position, nor did it consider the possibility of trading draft picks.
The Rams have been unsettled at the QB position all season. Nick Foles faces an uncertain future with the Rams after a disappointing debut season with the team. Case Keenum likely isn’t the long-term solution the Rams are looking for. Rookie Sean Mannion is an unknown quantity at this point in his career. Could the Rams be looking for quality and stability at the position in the upcoming draft? They make a dramatic trade up in this mock draft for a quarterback, a move that addresses the position in a manner not seen in Ramsland since the selection of Sam Bradford in 2010.
In an ideal world, the Rams are able to re-sign their key Free Agents on defense, while focusing on the offense via the upcoming NFL draft.
|1.16||QB||Connor Cook||Michigan State|
|4.105||TE||Nick Vannett||Ohio State|
Brian Quick becomes a Free Agent after the 2015 season. Will the Rams attempt to re-sign him? Chris Givens was traded for a 7th round draft pick. Stedman Bailey’s future with the Rams may be in doubt after a second suspension for violation of the NFL substance abuse policy and a long recovery ahead as a shooting victim. The Rams’ wide receiver corps could end up being a little thin after the 2015 season. Treadwell sits atop my early WR board. Watching him in action reminds me of a couple of players (in some respects): Anquan Boldin and Dez Bryant. An injury in 2014 and lack of blazing speed might hold down Treadwell’s draft stock enough to keep him outside the top nine selections come draft day. Treadwell measures in at 6’2″ – 220.
Alternate Pick: OT – Ronnie Stanley – Notre Dame
The Rams will have many important decisions to make in the offseason. The quarterback position will likely be in the forefront of many discussions between Les Snead and Jeff Fisher. The key question to be answered: do the Rams have their franchise quarterback already on the roster? If the answer is no, the Rams could turn to the 2016 NFL Draft to find one. Connor Cook may be the best fit for the Rams among this years draft-eligible QB’s. Cook plays in a pro-style offense, is a pure pocket passer, has a strong arm and ideal size for the NFL (6’4″ – 220). He’s not without flaws; nonetheless, Cook exhibits the type of poise, accuracy and confidence that should translate well to the pro game.
Alternate Pick: (2nd Round) – TE – Hunter Henry – Arkansas
The Rams devoted plenty of draft capital to the offensive line in the 2015 NFL Draft. The one position they neglected to address in the process was center. Tim Barnes is eligible for Free Agency in 2016 and is no better than an average starter. Backup Demetrius Rhaney is an unknown quantity. If Rodger Saffold becomes a cap casualty, the Rams will need to add depth at guard. Pocic is flying under the radar at present. He presents an intriguing combination of size (6’7″ – 310) and versatility (experience at center and guard). Pocic was one of the key factors in LSU’s ability to open up holes for star RB Leonard Fournette in 2015.
Alternate Pick: DE – Shawn Oakman – Baylor
Jared Cook is scheduled to have an $8.3 million salary cap hit in 2016. He could become a cap casualty if the terms of his contract aren’t renegotiated. Cory Harkey is eligible for Free Agency after the season. The Rams could be looking for Tight End help in the draft. Vannett has an NFL-type frame (6′ 6″ – 260), combining toughness with athleticism, the complete package for an NFL Tight End. Although used sparingly in the passing game at OSU (18 catches in 2015), Vannett is an able pass catcher, with nice hands and surprising speed. He excelled at blocking for OSU standout RB Ezekiel Elliott. The Rams will covet his willingness and capability as a blocker.
Alternate Pick: FS – Deon Bush – Miami (Fla.)
The Rams under Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are quite familiar with the concept of double-dipping at WR in the NFL Draft (Brian Quick/Chris Givens in 2012; Tavon Austin/Stedman Bailey in 2013). Garrett has prototypical size (6’3″-221), long arms and good leaping ability. He’s one of my early sleeper picks in the 2016 NFL Draft (as is the alternate selection Antonio Morrison).
Alternate Pick: ILB – Antonio Morrison – Florida
Laquon Treadwell: Great move and great one-handed catch