With the 2015 NFL Draft behind us, the Last Word On Sports NFL department continues its draft review series here. Today, the St. Louis Rams are the focus. Here’s who they selected:
1st Round, 10th Overall: RB Todd Gurley (Georgia)
2nd Round, 57th Overall: OT Rob Havenstein (Wisconsin)
3rd Round, 72nd Overall: OT Jamon Brown (Louisville)
3rd Round, 89th Overall: QB Sean Mannion (Oregon State)
4th Round, 119th Overall: OT Andrew Donnal (Iowa)
6th Round, 201st Overall: WR Bud Sasser (Missouri)
6th Round, 215th Overall: OG Cody Wichmann (Fresno State)
7th Round, 224th Overall: LB Bryce Hager (Baylor)
7th Round, 227th Overall: DE Martin Ifedi (Memphis)
St. Louis Rams 2015 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: A running back was finally taken in the first round of an NFL draft again, and this guy is very talented. Todd Gurley (Georgia) is one of the best backs college football has had in a while and now his talents will be in St. Louis. Gurley has some doubters due to the torn ACL he suffered, but he should be one of the better picks in this draft. Questionable quarterback play has recently spoiled an amazing defense in St. Louis, but the team added Nick Foles this offseason. Either way, Gurley will be the backbone of this offense for years to come. He is a faster Marshawn Lynch, which is something that will drive defensive coordinators crazy next year. Expect over 1,000 yards from Gurley’s rookie campaign.
The Head-Scratcher: The Rams really needed an impact receiver to add to the receiving corps. They finally took Bud Sasser (Missouri) in the sixth round, but they should have used an earlier pick on a receiver since they did not do much in free agency to address the position. However, the team did address other major concerns on the offensive line, so it is hard to blame the Rams for not taking a receiver at that point.
The Surprise: Many were surprised to see the Rams draft Sean Mannion, a quarterback out of Oregon State, in the third round over guys like Brett Hundley and Bryce Petty. Mannion is the all-time Pac-12 leading passer, but Petty has the better arm and Hundley is a better overall athlete. It will be interesting to see if Mannion can develop into a starting-caliber quarterback or if he will simply be a backup for Foles in the future.
The Steal: Towering offensive tackle Rob Havenstein was a great pick by the Rams. St. Louis had an inconsistent offensive line last year and Havenstein will start right away. This guy was a consensus All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten honoree last year. He is a big, physical mauler that dominates in run-blocking schemes. Any Wisconsin offensive lineman is usually prepared for success in the NFL, and Havenstein is one of the better ones. The Rams are going to pound the ball with a deadly combination of Gurley and Tre Mason, and Havenstein will be one of the maulers leading the way.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: The entire offensive line class will turn heads in training camp. The Rams spent four picks on the offensive line to address their biggest need: Wisconsin’s Rob Havenstein, Louisville’s Jamon Brown, Iowa’s Andrew Donnal and Fresno State’s Cody Wichmann. Havenstein and Brown are capable of playing right away while Donnal should see some playing time, but should be a future starter. Meanwhile, Wichmann is more of a project but he is very physical. The Rams clearly had a vision in this draft: Gurley and a bunch of people to block for Gurley.
The Rest: I mentioned everyone they picked in the first six rounds already, but they had two seventh-round picks as well. The team first took Bryce Hager, a linebacker out of Baylor who was second-team All-Big 12 for three straight years. Hager had a quality Senior Bowl outing and he should provide depth for a very good Rams defense. Three picks later, Martin Ifedi (Memphis) was chosen. This defensive end set the Memphis program record with 22.5 career sacks and he was a three-year starter. Ifedi knows how to rush the passer and will learn even more moves from the amazing St. Louis defensive line.
The Bottom Line: The Rams took big, physical football players in this year’s draft. This is my favorite NFC West draft because they addressed needs (running back, offensive line, quarterback) and added talent as well. The Rams are a dark horse for the 2015 NFL playoffs and I could see them being a wildcard.
Rams 2015 Draft Grade: 8/10