St. Louis Rams Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Jamon Brown, G, Louisville – Round 3
Todd Gurley was really the only draft pick of the Rams who I really liked, but I have to pick a player for this spot. Of the franchise’s other picks, I feel the best about Brown turning into a quality starter at right guard. He packs a punch in the ground game, and I think moving to guard will help his weakness in pass blocking.

At 6-foot-4, 323-pounds, Brown has good bulk on the inside to be a power right guard and get movement at the point of attack. He could be an immediate replacement for 2014 starter Davin Joseph, and Brown is more talented than other competitors at right guard like Brandon Washington and Cody Wichmann. Considering what the Rams have in-house, it should only be a matter of time before he’s their starting right guard.

If Brown develops as a pass-protector on the inside, he could end up forming a quality guard tandem with Rodger Saffold. Brown will need some development to take on NFL speed rushers, especially when teams move ends to the inside in obvious passing situations. Brown looks like he has the potential to be a quality starter for the Rams.

Most Likely To Bust

Rob Havenstein, OT, Wisconsin – Round 2
Many felt that Havenstein was a mid-rounder or third-day prospect, but the Rams took him in the second round. After taking Todd Gurley with the 10th-overall pick, I can understand wanting some power run-blockers to pave the way for him. However, Havenstein was a reach in the second round, and I think there is a serious possibility that he will be a bust.

Entering the next level, Havenstein is a one-dimensional player. He was a good run-blocker at Wisconsin and helped Melvin Gordon to a massive 2014 season. However, Havenstein (6-7, 321) is very stiff as a pass-protector and struggles with speed rushers. That was clear at the Senior Bowl when he was abused in the pass-rushing one-on-ones. Havenstein had a hard time protecting the edge against those speed rushers, and I think it will only be worse on Sundays next fall.

The Rams have had a lot of quarterback injuries in recent years and have a statue starting quarterback in Nick Foles. I think Havenstein is going to be a liability in the passing offense in the fall and will be abused by the likes of Aldon Smith, Michael Bennett and Alex Okafor. Havenstein is going to need double-team help when he goes against a good pass-rusher, and that will be most Sundays.

There were much better well-rounded blockers available in my opinion, but St. Louis favored the running game over a pass-blocker. I think there is a real chance that Havenstein will be a bust like other Rams recent second-rounders Isaiah Pead and Brian Quick.

Potential Boom Pick

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia – Round 1
If it weren’t for the ACL injury, Gurley would have been the top-rated player for me in the 2015 NFL Draft. Even with the injury, I had him rated ahead of every player except for Jameis Winston. Gurley is a physical freak, and judging how he played in 2012, you could make the argument that he had the skill set to make the jump from high school to the NFL. Gurley has a ton of upside, and his best football should be ahead of him.

When Gurley was on the field over the past three years, he was a dominant runner in the SEC. Gurley destroyed teams as a freshman and continued his torrid play over the next two seasons. The 6-foot-1, 232-pound back has the very rare combination of breakaway speed with the power to run over tacklers. He also has excellent vision, pad level and toughness. Gurley can charge through defenders or run by them. As he showed with his kick-return skills, Gurley is a threat to score on any touch, and as a runner, he was constantly breaking off long gains

In my opinion, Gurley is the best running back to come into the NFL since Adrian Peterson, and I know scouts and general managers who felt that way. The only concern with Gurley is durability. If he can stay healthy, I think he is going to be a Pro Bowler and one of the best running backs in the NFL. I think Gurley will be a back on Peterson’s level – if he can avoid injury.

Future Depth Player

Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State – Round 3
Mannion (6-6, 229) is a big-armed pocket passer who is a statue in the pocket. He has zero mobility, and his effectiveness goes down the tubes when he sees any pass rush or is forced to move off his drop spot. Thus, I think Mannion could be a serviceable backup capable of finishing a game or starting a couple, but I don’t think he ever will become a good starter in the NFL. Mannion has a powerful arm, but footwork and accuracy were huge issues for him in 2014. To me, hee looks like a solid backup quarterback in the NFL, but not a good starter.

Walt’s 2015 NFL Draft Grades:

10. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: B+ Grade
I ordinarily wouldn’t be a fan of a team drafting a running back in the top 10 of the NFL Draft, but we’ve spoken to enough teams that were super high on Todd Gurley. In fact, one team considered him to be the next Jim Brown. If it wasn’t for his torn ACL, Jacksonville probably would’ve chosen him at No. 3. Gurley definitely could be considered the top prospect available, so this is a solid choice. However, the need is questionable after Tre Mason looked so good last year. Still, I don’t know what the Rams could’ve done otherwise. They wanted either Ereck Flowers or Brandon Scherff, but both were off the board.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

WOW. Did Pisa Tinoisamoa read the wrong name off the card? That was the first thought I had when the former Ram linebacker announced the selection. Rob Havenstein barely made my mock draft; I had him slotted in the seventh round. I guess the Rams didn’t watch or scout the Senior Bowl practices because Havenstein was abused in every practice. He didn’t look like he belonged. Blegh.

72. Jamon Brown, OT, Louisville: D Grade
Can someone alert the Rams and tell them that we aren’t in the seventh round? What are they doing? Why are they picking offensive linemen who should be going in the final rounds of the draft? They’re taking players at positions of need, but… I just don’t get it.

89. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State: C Grade
This is one of the Devin Funchess selections the Panthers curiously traded away. The Rams, however, aren’t taking advantage of Carolina’s error, drafting a quarterback who some didn’t think was going to be taken in the first five rounds. Mannion has mechanical issues on top of his poor pocket awareness, and he was responsible for a ton of turnovers throughout his collegiate career. The Rams probably could’ve waited another round to take him.

119. Andrew Donnal, OT, Iowa: C+ Grade
How many tackles does this team need? Seriously. I guess this isn’t a bad pick like the other ones because Andrew Donnal actually fits the range. Donnal, unlike the other tackles, isn’t as strong, but he has more upside.

201. Bud Sasser, WR, Missouri: C+ Grade
I didn’t have Bud Sasser being drafted, but he was right on the cusp. He’s a big receiver (6-3, 219) with decent athleticism. He also fills a need, as the Rams were expected to take a receiver much earlier than this.

215. Cody Wichmann, G, Fresno State: B- Grade
This seemingly is the Rams’ 5,000th pick used on an offensive lineman, but this selection isn’t bad like some of the other ones. Wichmann fits the range at the end of the sixth round and could eventually fight for a starting gig.

224. Bryce Hager, ILB, Baylor: A+ Grade
I’ve bashed some of the Rams’ selections in the 2015 NFL Draft, but this is an outstanding one. Bryce Hager was productive at Baylor and showed off great athleticism at the Combine, so I figured he’d go much earlier than this. In fact, I had him going in the fifth round. St. Louis dealt Zac Stacy for this pick, so it’s safe to say that it won that trade.

227. Martin Ifedi, DE, Memphis: B Grade
The Rams have strong depth on the defensive line, so it might be difficult for Martin Ifedi to make the roster. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad prospect though, as he’d have a good chance on other teams. He fits the range at this spot.

2015 NFL Draft Team Grade: D+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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