The Rams have let go a few integral pieces from last season like offensive linemen Shelley Smith and Chris Williams, and corner Cortland Finnegan. As far as additions, they resigned Rodger Saffold, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and recently brought wide receiver Kenny Britt on board.
Those little moves did not make much of a splash, which makes St. Louis Rams fans speculate what will they do on draft night. Let’s break down what some of these releases and pick-ups mean moving forward.
The Rams have a young, deep stable of wide receivers. Although none of them have stood out as the clear cut number one receiver, the addition of Britt is a sign the Rams will not be drafting a wideout come May. Fisher still has faith in third year receiver Brian Quick and has hinted Tavon Austin will be more explosive heading into his sophomore season. Fellow sophomore Stedman Bailey also showed some signs of brilliance. If Fisher can get the most out of this young core and reignite Britt’s career, quarterback Sam Bradford will have a field day with defenses, but that is a massive if.
Saffold played well on the right side of the line and shined even more when he was plugged in as a guard. He wanted to leave the Rams so he could move back to his comfortable position at left tackle, but a failed physical with the Oakland Raiders (a team who will sign anyone) still brings concern for the Rams moving forward. If the Rams are smart, they will trade out from one of their first round picks and accumulate more picks later on. The Rams will need to draft two if not three new offensive linemen to keep Bradford upright and the running game a threat.
To say the Rams did nothing to address the holes on the team is inaccurate. They went out after two of the biggest names on secondary this free agency and missed. The Rams’ philosophy since the new regime came in seems to be keeping the team young and fresh. They let go of Finnegan, who went on to sign with Miami, leaving Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson as the only two corners with starting experience. Jenkins has shown he can hold his own and although Johnson did a respectable job starting last season, he is not a true starter. The Rams will need to add a big name like Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard in the first round if they want to improve the secondary.
The Rams have already shown their front seven is the anchor on defense. They could potentially bring in an outside linebacker in the fourth or fifth round to groom for a year. As appealing as Jadevon Clowney is at number two, the Rams can wait another draft to pick up a new pass rusher.
The real issue for the Rams is at safety. Second year player TJ McDonald was having a bright start to his rookie season until he went down to injury. He did make it back to play later on, but you could see he was not the same. The Rams will need to bring in someone like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama to play alongside McDonald. The two would be a very young but dangerous tandem.
We still have a month to speculate who will come and who will the Rams pass on, but if their free agency signees indicate anything, it is showing the Rams are looking to be more active on the day of the draft. Look for them to possibly add a center or defensive tackle somewhere in the late rounds to develop for the future as well. Hopefully the Rams gamble pays off and leads them to contention in the NFC West.