With the 2015 NFL Draft having come and passed, it is time to take a look at how each of the other three teams in the NFC West did with their picks. I will admit that I'm not draft expect - so my understanding of these draft classes will be based upon what other experts have said (and, let's all admit it, grading drafts is an activity full of pitfalls). But, what I can do is see how each team did addressing needs and/or adding players who look like game changers. We start today with the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams had nine picks in the draft. Let's take a look at them:
10. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (Round 1)
57. Rob Havenstein, OT, Wisconsin (Round 2)
72. Jamon Brown, OT, Louisville (Round 3)
89. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State (Round 3)
119. Andrew Donnal, OT, Iowa (Round 4)
201. Bud Sasser, WR, Missouri (Round 6)
215. Cody Wichmann, G, Fresno State (Round 6)
224. Bryce Hager, ILB, Baylor (Round 7)
227. Martin Ifedi, DE, Memphis (Round 7)
With even a cursory look at the picks, we can see that the Rams placed a huge emphasis on developing the run game. This could be a great idea for a couple of reasons. First, o-line was a big area of need for the Rams. The Rams traded away injury-prone Sam Bradford for injury-prone Nick Foles, so protecting the QB was going to be a major priority. Second, even if you think that Foles could have more success in St. Louis than he did in Philadelphia, it is still more likely than not that the passing game is still going to be an area of weakness for the Rams. By developing a strong running game, the Rams give themselves a chance to win games. Their defense is really quite stacked, especially after the added DT Nick Fairley and LB Akeem Ayers this offseason. Doing something well on offense (like running the ball) can help get them to the next level.
But, this does lead us to one of the criticism people levied against the Rams: taking a RB in the first round just doesn't make sense anymore. How much is that true? I'm not so sure myself - it sounds like Gurley is an exceptional talent, and I know that I was bummed when the Rams took him. I don't want the 49ers to face an exceptional talent like him twice a season.
Additionally, a few people have labeled some of the Rams' picks "reaches." Mel Kiper and Dan Kadar both cite the Rob Havenstein pick, for example. It seems as if certain players may have had a lower round grade on them than where the Rams picked them. I'm never super persuaded by these sorts of arguments, so I'm not sure how much I buy into it. But, them's the facts, folks.