St. Louis Rams Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - Round 1
Many Rams fans will probably be upset that I don't have Donald as the potential boom pick. I think he is going to be a good pro who is a plus starter, but I have some doubts about him being the dominant force that some are expecting him to be. The reason is Donald (6-1, 285) lacks weight and has short arms. Thus, I think he could have some issues in run defense against physical, downhill run teams like Seattle and San Francisco. Still, Donald has rare ability to be a superb interior pass-rusher.

In college, Donald totaled 27.5 sacks over the last three years with two 11-sack seasons. His consistent pass rush on the inside is tremendous. At the Senior Bowl, Donald was the most impressive player. He was phenomenal in the pass-rushing one-on-ones as he constantly beat blockers to get to the quarterback. Donald is very strong for his size and is able to bull rush heavy interior blockers. He also is extremely fast with natural pad level to fire by guards off the snap.

It wouldn't surprise me if the Rams eventually move to a rotation that protects Donald from some obvious running situations. Another heavy tackle to play next to Michael Brockers would keep Donald fresh to rush the passer. With Chris Long and Robert Quinn coming off the edge, Donald should be in position to get one-on-ones with guards. It would be surprising if Donald doesn't become an effective pass-rusher and a quality starter for St. Louis.

Most Likely To Bust

Tre Mason, RB, Auburn - Round 3
This was a tough choice because there wasn't a pick from St. Louis who was really questionable. Late third-day picks can't be considered busts if they don't pan out. Among the Rams' selections in the first three rounds the options are Mason or Lamarcus Joyner. I chose Mason because there could be a few issues that he has to overcome.

The biggest challenge that Mason has to overcome is pass protection. He didn't learn to pass block at Auburn, and that will limit him early on in the NFL. Mason also will have to earn his reps as St. Louis has a very talented young starter in Zac Stacy. The Rams also have a lot of picks invested in their wide receivers, so the team should feature a lot of passing next season.

I don't think that Mason is likely to be a bust, but among St. Louis' early picks from the 2014 NFL Draft, he has the most pitfalls that could cause him not to provide an impact in the NFL.

Potential Boom Pick

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - Round 2
I think the Rams were the perfect landing spot for Robinson. Everybody agreed that the 6-foot-5, 330-pounder is a rare athlete with a fabulous combination of strength and speed. He can be a road-grading run-blocker, and has the potential to be an elite pass-blocker. Robinson is raw in protection and needs to improve his technique, but the Rams are a perfect place for him to learn.

Veteran left tackle Jake Long can teach Robinson the ropes. Watching Long will help Robinson, who will also pick up experience while starting at left guard. Long is likely to be an eventual cap casualty, which will allow Robinson to move over to left tackle. The same kind of plan worked well for Jonathan Ogden in his Hall of Fame career for the Baltimore Ravens.

Robinson has the size, strength and quickness to be an elite left tackle. Having an easier development by starting out at guard could make a huge difference for him rather than being thrown into the fire at left tackle. Robinson has the potential to be one of the top left tackles in the NFL.

Future Depth Player

E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri - Round 6
The Rams had a need at corner, and Gaines was the second one they selected. However, Lamarcus Joyner could also be a starting free safety for St. Louis, and that would open up more competition for playing time at nickel corner. Gaines (5-10, 190) could be a nice developmental player there.

Gaines played well for Missouri in 2013 with 68 tackles with five interceptions and three passes defended. Late in the regular season, he came up with some huge games. Gaines held Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans to only four catches for eight yards. Gaines may not have the skill set to develop into an NFL starter, but he could be a nice depth cornerback who also contributes on special teams.

Walt's 2014 NFL Draft Grades:

2. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: C Grade
I'm really not a big fan of this pick. I don't hate it, but I feel like the Rams should have gone with Sammy Watkins instead. St. Louis has Jake Long and Joseph Barksdale, who played well last year. Greg Robinson is obviously an upgrade over the latter - or the former if he can't return from injury - but Jeff Fisher has a great track record of getting the most out of his linemen. I get that Robinson is very talented, but why not take another great prospect at a different position instead?

13. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: A Grade
Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald. Holy crap. The Rams already had a ridiculous defensive line, and now it's somehow even better.

I love this pick. Donald should have been a top 10 selection, and he would have gone in that range had the earlier teams not been so incompetent. He was arguably the top player available, and he will be a full-time starter once Kendall Langford moves on. Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Carson Palmer are not happy campers right now.

41. Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State: B Grade
Lamarcus Joyner was arguably the next-best defensive back on the board, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Rams selected him. The Rams had terrible corner play this past season from Cortland Finnegan, who is no longer on the roster. An upgrade had to be made, and Joyner could easily qualify as one.

75. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn: C+ Grade
This is like the Buccaneers' Charles Sims pick, except the Rams aren't reaching at all. This is actually solid value for Tre Mason, but it doesn't fill a need at all. The Rams are fine at running back, and there's a better class at that position coming up next year, so I wish St. Louis would have addressed another position.

110. Mo Alexander, S, Utah State: D Grade
Mo Alexander is a reach. He has off-the-field issues, so he was projected to go much later. The Rams, however, have shown that they don't care about such things. They're filling a need, but I don't get why they'd pass on someone like Dion Bailey.

188. E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri: B+ Grade
The Rams are taking their second cornerback of this draft, but I don't have an issue with that because it's a position that had to be addressed. I figured E.J. Gaines would be chosen a bit earlier than this, so I'm a fan of this selection.

214. Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU: B Grade
Jerry Jones' heart is broken because he wanted Garrett Gilbert in the seventh round. The Rams needed to take a young, developmental quarterback, and Gilbert was one of the top signal-callers available.

226. Mitchell Van Dyk, OL, Portland State: C Grade
There's no such thing as a reach in Round 7, but I highly doubt many teams had Mitchell Van Dyk on their boards.

241. C.B. Bryant, S, Ohio State: C Grade
This is the Rams' second safety, but I don't feel as though they've appropriately addressed the position. I didn't have C.B. Bryant as a draftable player, and there were better options available.

249. Michael Sam, DE, Missouri: A Grade
It's ridiculous that Michael Sam lasted this long. He was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Sure, he doesn't have the measurables, but he can be a very good situational pass-rusher, and those type of players go in Rounds 4-5, which is where Sam should have gone. The Rams are getting great value at this spot, and as Jeff Fisher said before the draft began, you can never have enough pass-rushers.

250. Demetrius Rhaney, C, Tennessee State: C Grade
Nothing wrong with offensive line depth, and the Rams need plenty of it. Demetrius Rhaney wasn't viewed as a draftable player, but it's Pick No. 250, so who cares?

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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Comments - Viewing Page 1

Listen to all WalterFootball Comments

JP1I (Anonymous Poster)
5 month(s) 9 day(s) ago - hide
oh wise one......I've followed this site for quite a while and think it is alright.  One thing I've learned is that opinions are a dime a dozen and you are certainly entitled to yours.  i believe you had Jason Smith as a can't miss prospect.  Whoops! You could be wrong about your assessment of the RAMS draft.  Time will tell.  Maybe Haverstein has a bad day.  His running back seemed to do pretty well.  Boudreau will coach these guys up.  That's my opinion.  
6    0 Reply
Toughjob (Anonymous Poster)
5 month(s) 8 day(s) ago - hide



Just curious, but it does seem like all of walt's intel on Havenstein not panning out are based on his ability as a pass blocking right tackle during the drills of the senior bowl. I think the concern that he is sub-par for that role is valid, but the game tape of him at wisconson shows a pretty beastly run blocker. Now a right tackle that can't pass block against elite talent would be a cause for concern for a lot of teams, but I just don't see the rams putting the ball in Foles hands a lot this season. I think that the Millan grade reflects too much on generalizations of what linemen in the league are supposed to do and not very much of what the rams war room was looking for. Because there were much better pass-blocking linemen still on the board, but pure mauler/ road grading blockers that play a smart clean game? and have 3 years starting experience in a run first, second and third down system? I think that is why a lot of other analysts are not as down on the selection as walt. I guess we will have to wait to see if that tactical choice pans out, but I don't think that fisher and sneed were confused about their choice. You just might not be a fan of their over all game plan, which I think the pick fits very well.

2    0 Reply
ManWithAPlan (Anonymous Poster)
5 month(s) 10 day(s) ago - hide
This draft, more so than any other draft, it seems like sneed and fisher went in knowing they needed to come out with some very specific needs met. I don't think that Gurley was a guy that they thought would still be on the board when they got to pick, but I think they would have picked him over the two wideouts that got picked before the rams were on the board. Clearly, Fisher feels good about the defense, and the young pool of DBs that are developing back there. Safety still feels like it could be a problem area, but compared to past drafts, it was refreshing to see the rams not have more needs than picks available. The O-line has been the rams biggest problem for years, and Jake long was not really the guy we hoped he could have been. Robinson looks like he is developing into the guy who can hold down left tackle though so they look like they might be turning things around on there. The guys the got in this draft are not going to be a big step up in the passing game, and Mannion might see the field this season due to injury if not talent (especially if the rams find themselves chasing games), but those brute maulers are going to attack you at the line and hopefully most of the passing is going to be able to come out of play action set ups against defenses with 8 to 9 guys pulling into the box. Fisher and Sneed don't have a lot more years left if they don't start pulling winning seasons. I like that they are selling the farm on being a power house running team with a defense that forces its opponents to make mistakes. At least they have established an identity and are placing faith in it, unlike a lot of the other teams that have been beating around the cellar like jacksonville, the browns, the raiders, tennessee, the red skins. For better or worse, the 2015 Rams 100% are going to play Jeff Fisher football. Here's hoping its for the better.
2    0 Reply
RamFan1977 (Anonymous Poster)
5 month(s) 10 day(s) ago - hide

How many tackles did the Rams need? Several, Walt. Especially since at least one of them projects to being a guard in the NFL. Could you study the teams and their needs so you can grade accurately, please?

Seriously, you have no clue as to a). what the Rams needs were, or b). what their goal/team identity is that makes the picks they've made so far make sense.

As a Rams fan, I am very happy with our draft!

11    1 Reply
Bestavailable (Anonymous Poster)
5 month(s) 12 day(s) ago - hide
With both WRs and OTs worth taking off the board, the Rams really did take the best player available. None of the speed DL were going to see first team reps and the talent gulf between Gurley and any of the DBs available was a no contest. The injury history is unnerving, but Greg Robinson is a run blocking tackle and there will be 8 in the box against the rams nearly every down now. In that sense Gurley may have been better than White or Cooper to take the pressure off...assuming he will be on the field. I wonder if the rams are going to run some wishbone this year.
2    0 Reply
MadPoster (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 3 month(s) ago - hide
I cant believe im the first to pick this up but Greg Robinson was chosen in round 1 not round 2.  Scroll up to boom pick to see what im talking about
4    1 Reply
Justin (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 3 month(s) ago - hide
The Rams scored on Special Teams against the Texans. The forced a fumble on the KO return and Darren Bates picked it up and ran it in. I'd call that a Special Teams score, and not a defensive score.
5    0 Reply
Ohana (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 3 month(s) ago - hide
Who came up with the idea that a veteran player will "teach" a young player at the same position?  It sounds good to a fan but pro athletes on a "Team" are not necessarily "Teammates."  
1    2 Reply
Draftfreak (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 4 month(s) ago - hide

Your analysis of a player is: "Demetrius Rhaney wasn't viewed as a draftable player, but it's Pick No. 250, so who cares?"

Do they pay you for this type of analysis?

3    1 Reply
What? (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 4 month(s) ago - hide
Let me get this straight.  You listed OT as the Rams top offseason need and then go on to give their pick of Greg Robinson a C?  Explain please?
11    1 Reply
PhunkFenomenon 13 Posts (17 )
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide

I'm a huge fan of STL for taking Michael Sam and was starting to think this year's draft would have a huge stain on it if he went undrafted. Obviously, teams never want un-necessary press coverage or distractions so the "measureables" became the excuse, but in the argument for every other successful player (see: Bridgewater's Pro Day) all analysts say to pay attention the gametape and Sam's gametape is right on. 

Any team that brought on Sam would instantly have positive coverage and be a media darling for taking that faithful step on a player with great character and integrity. Sam will be a locker room leader and inspirational player for the Rams so it was a stupid move for teams like CHI to pass on him then sign 17 undrafted rookies or for WAS to choose a Kicker in Rd 7 when all of them could have been contacted rihgt after the draft.

The Rams are to be commended and their front 7 is going to be sick.

3    8 Reply
Rams Fan (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 4 month(s) ago - hide
I agree. I think the rams waited till the 7th because Sam was not a lock in fit for the scheme we run on defense but when a player that productive drops into the 7th round you say, "This player is way too talented to let someone else pick up after us." I think the Rams will get creative and find ways to let Sam shine especially on blitzing 3rd downs. The challenge with sam will be to find out if he can make a switch to outside line backer or if he is going to stay a situational DE and have to wait until he is making a big enough impact for another team to come and try to trade for him once they see how well received he is as a player by the team, administration and fans in st. louis.
1    1 Reply
Big70tom 1 Posts (12 )
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide
This season I came to a realization, you don't know @#$@. This site should have a disclaimer" for entertainment purposes only, I don't know @#$@"  you grade a C on Robinson, WOW. The only thing I've read critiscing that pick is you and the children on Rams fan sites. Dude, Watkins would not have given the Rams anything. The line was shaky. Long has been injury prone and R as me have no back up. The league has changed, especially the NFC West. Its smash mouth football, you gotta pound the defense guts, then pass. Now the Rams will overpower any D line they come across. Now teams will stack 8 in the box and Bradford will more easily be able to finally show he can be a passer in this league. If it goes well, next year we draft a no.1 type receiver and keep competing. If Bradford sucks, we draft one of the sstud QB. AND not worry abit him being given the David Carr treatment. This was the best move hands down.
12    0 Reply
Bob (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide
Your grade for our #2 pick is like a little child grading something.  Just because YOU wanted us to take Sammy YOU give us a C grade.  You should be objective when giving grades.  This is a solid A pick for what the Rams are doing and the division we play in.  Sammy can't do squat if Sam is always on his A$$.
15    0 Reply
Rams Fan (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide
What the rams are doing with this draft is unconventional in this age, but I like it and think it can work. Seattle and Arizona are going to have monster secondaries this year, and everyone in our division has front 7s designed around getting after the quarter back. So what do we do? We broadcast to the world that we are going to power run the football right up the gut and trust our defense to let greg the leg win us the close games at the end. I think we will give the teams in our division much greater fits this year than last when we were trying to air it for the first half of the season. Its not going to get us a 16-0 season, but if we can win at least half our division games, it gives us a decent chance at getting into the playoffs. Plus I think that givens has a lot of potential to have a monster year off of a play-action that is going to be an easy sell with what the rams are going to be doing. Its rams football from before the greatest show on turf era, and I think it gives bradford the absolute best shot at showing us what he's got in his make or break season. 
10    0 Reply
STL Superman 5 Posts (14 )
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide
Robinson will start at guard.  Let's be honest, yeah Barksdale played decent last season, but how long will that really last?  This provides a lot of flexibility along the line, especially someone as talented as he is.  Definitely not a C worth grade, it's a solid B or B+.  I'm not sold on Sammy anyway.  I  prefer a big target, not another 6 footer, we have a ton of those on the roster.  Give me Jordan Matthews all day.  
11    0 Reply
Saints Number 1 Fan (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide
Good point.also 6'2 3/8 Donte Moncrief is a good option.he is a really good wideout.also I love the Donald pick for the rams(on another topic).in the NFC West the elite teams have lines on both sides and the rams are doing everything to get there.the NFC West will be so competitive...if all 4 teams had 10+ wins I'd be not shocked.Greg Robinson is also a very good pick.
1    0 Reply
kickass (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide

I'm surprised they didn't work a deal with Buffalo.  They could have gotten Lewann at 9 and again had two picks in the 1st round for next year.  I liked the Donald pick as he could end up being the best Defensive player in the draft period.  OT is just so boring with the second pick.

Who knows though, they've got a loaded roster now with more today.  Good luck to you all.  Vikes fan!

1    0 Reply
Come on Walt (Anonymous Poster)
1 years 5 month(s) ago - hide
Everyone and their brother knows Robinson is gonna play guard his first year (or two) in STL. Think Jonathan Ogden rookie year
6    1 Reply


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