2011 NFL Draft | St. Louis Rams Team Needs
The St. Louis Rams made a huge turn around in 2010, winning more games in one season than they had in the previous three seasons combined. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo had his defense playing better, while the Rams found gold with rookie passer Sam Bradford, and made a run at the division and a playoff spot.
While they ultimately came up short, its clear the Rams have the pieces to contend in a still weak NFC West, and with a solid draft, could enter 2011 as the favorites. On top of that, they’ve added offensive and quarterback guru Josh McDaniels, who can only help an already impressive Bradford. If the Rams can get Bradford another weapon or two, beef up the offensive line, and add an impact defender, they could take the league by storm in 2011.
Biggest Needs: WR, OG, TE
St. Louis has their quarterback of the future in Sam Bradford, has an improving offensive line, and has a star running back. To complete their overhaul, they now need to add a star impact receiver. They suffered major injuries to Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton, while last year’s rookie receiver Mardy Gilyard has yet to pan out. In order to make sure Bradford has all the weapons he needs to progress into a top quarterback, they need to strike big in the first round and land that big, elite target. It looks like Julio Jones could be that guy with the 14th pick, providing he’s still available. If St. Louis opts to wait until the second round (or if Jones simply isn’t there) they could also land Jonathan Baldwin, another big target who can make an immediate impact.
Outside of receiver, St. Louis can always upgrade their offensive line. Their tackle positions appear to be set, so beefing up their guards makes the most sense. Right guard has been the biggest problem, so looking at Marcus Cannon or Mike Pouncey early makes a lot of sense. However, both would be considered reaches in the first round at this point, making either Stefen Wisniewski or Rodney Hudson more logical choices in round two.
The Rams should also be looking to help Bradford at the tight end spot, where they already have some reliable players, but no elite performers. There are plenty of solid tight end prospects in this draft that can be had in the middle rounds, but if the Rams are serious about transforming their offensive into an elite engine, they could nab Kyle Rudolph in the second (if he drops), or wait until round three and get D.J. Williams out of Arkansas.
Biggest Needs: DT, SS, OLB
St. Louis could add some cornerback depth in any of the first three rounds, but what they really need to do is add an impact player in the middle of their defensive line to help the pass rush, as well as help stop the run. It could start early with their first pick, with Corey Liguet (right) or Christian Ballard. There’s plenty of talent at defensive tackle, however, so they could still wait until round two or three and nab solid talents such as Stephen Paea or Marvin Austin to bolster the inside of their defensive front.
Another area of concern is strong safety, where the Rams have been rotating mediocre players and could use a more physical and imposing presence. They could grab Deunta Williams in the second round if they feel he can make it happen at strong safety (where there are mixed feelings), or even grab Florida’s Ahmad Black. Either player would serve as immediate upgrades at the position. Another hot name has been DeAndre McDaniel, although his stock appears to be on the rise, and he may not fall to the Rams in the second round.
The Rams other main weakness is their average line-backing corps, and with a stud outside linebacker, they could help shore up this area of their defense. The Rams are set in the middle, but could really use an upgrade at the weakside spot, and could find a gem in Mark Herzlich. Herzlich’s slipped stock due to cancer could give the Rams a shot at him in the third or fourth round, while UConn’s Lawrence Wilson could also be had in the middle rounds and has the tools to get the job done at the next level.
At this point, the Rams really need to keep progressing with the guys they have on both sides of the ball, and just have a few major holes they need to fill to make a real run at the playoffs. Adding one or two impact offensive players for Bradford to use is key, while adding solid run support in the middle of their defense and at linebacker and safety will go a long way in making Spagnuolo’s vision on defense come true.