St. Louis Rams Draft Moves Suggest Faith in Bradford

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 12, 2014 7:13 PM UTC

Monday, May. 12, 2014 7:13 PM UTC

St. Louis is keeping the faith in former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford for at least one more year, as the team chose not to take a potential replacement with either of its 2014 first-round picks. The Rams are 12/1 on NFL odds to win the NFC West.

Beefing Up the Lines
The Rams used the final piece of currency from that Robert Griffin III trade with Washington in the 2012 draft and selected Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. The team is hoping it found the next Orlando Pace, and by all accounts Robinson was the highest-rated offensive lineman on the board. However, he also needs a bit of work. For now he's projected as the starting right tackle but will move to the left side in a year or two -- whenever Jake Long's career is over. You can see why the Rams went with a lineman considering they have to play the magnificent defenses of the 49ers and Seahawks twice a year. Shoot, even the Cardinals have a good defense in that NFC West.

With their own first-rounder, No. 13 overall, the Rams somewhat surprisingly took Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. No knock on Donald, and the Chicago Bears were devastated they couldn't take him at No. 14 overall, but St. Louis already has an excellent defensive line. My guess is that if either Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans had still been around at No. 13 then he would have been the choice.

Receiver remains by far the biggest need on this team. Tavon Austin was disappointing as a rookie and you are looking at Austin Pettis and Chris Givens as your likely starters. That's not going to help Bradford out much. Can you imagine the speedy Watkins playing in that dome eight times a year? He would have been electric. St. Louis also had a big need at running back -- Zac Stacy is the projected starter and he probably should be a No. 2 -- but may have filled that with Auburn's Tre Mason in the third round. He should get plenty of playing time from Day 1 and wouldn't be a bad longer shot bet on Offensive Rookie of the Ysar odds when sportsbooks release that soon. Mason ran for 1,816 yards and an SEC record-tying 23 touchdowns last season. He and Robinson become the first pair of Auburn teammates to be drafted by the same team since 2005 (Redskins).

Will Sam Stick?
The biggest story of the draft, other than Johnny Manziel slipping to No. 22 overall, was when the Rams chose Missouri defensive end Michael Sam with the 249th pick. Sam is set to become the first openly gay NFL player, but that's if he makes the team. It's far from a sure thing. As noted above, the Rams are loaded on the defensive line. At best right now Sam might be third string on that unit and there are only so many backups you can carry on the active roster. He's probably going to have to be a special teams demon to stick. The question is if the Rams will feel a bit of pressure to keep him simply because of his sexuality, and you know the NFL would prefer that Sam play in the league. Alas, he's a tweener -- i.e. too small to be a very good defensive end and too slow to play as an every-down linebacker. In an interesting note, Missouri state law allows individuals to be refused employment because of their sexual orientation. There is a pending bill to change that but has been stalled. The publicity surrounding Sam could help spur it through the state legislature.

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Full List Of Draft Picks
Greg Robinson, offensive tackle, Auburn (Round 1, No. 2 overall); Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh (1, No. 13); Lamarcus Joyner, cornerback, Florida State (2, No. 41); Tre Mason, running back, Auburn (3, No. 75); Maurice Alexander, safety, Utah State (4, No. 110); E.J. Gaines, cornerback, Missouri (6, No. 188); Garrett Gilbert, quarterback, SMU (6, No. 214); Mitchell Van Dyk (7, No. 226); C.B. Bryant, safety, Ohio State (7, No. 241); Michael Sam, defensive end, Missouri (7, No. 249); Demetrius Rhaney (7, No. 250).

NFL free picks: Rams finish third in the NFC West. There are a few other divisions that St. Louis could be good enough to win -- presuming Bradford stays on the field. Just not the NFC West. I expect St. Louis to take a QB high in next year's draft (Jameis Winston? Marcus Mariota?).

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