Former Washington Redskins and Houston Texans general manager and current NFL.com correspondent Charley Casserly released his 2014 mock draft on Monday, and in it he had the Rams selecting Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the second pick, then swapping picks with the Dallas Cowboys and taking Alabama Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix with the sixteenth pick.
Casserly’s logic behind the Rams taking Robinson isn’t fully valid, as he says “Robinson is the best tackle in the draft. Play him on the right side and then he can eventually replace Jake Long on the left side.” Besides the dispute over whether Robinson is actually the best tackle in the draft, considering that both Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan had longer and more sustained production at the college level, the placement of Robinson on the right side might be a difficult proposition.
First of all, the Rams will probably need someone to fill in for Long during training camp, if not the early regular season, as he recovers from a torn ACL. This would likely mean that Robinson would begin his Rams career at left tackle, unless the Rams wanted to shift incumbent right tackle Joe Barksdale to the left side. It would seem pointless to move Robinson to the right side after training him to play on the left side all preseason. Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau is likely going to be hesitant to try to move another left tackle to the right side as well, considering that the experiment with moving Rodger Saffold to right tackle failed last year. If Robinson was selected, it would most likely end up immediately pushing Long to the right side, which would be a bit of a wasted investment for a player who is scheduled to make $8 million in 2014.
The acquisition of Robinson would also eventually push Barksdale out of a job, which would be disappointing considering how well the 25-year-old played in his first full season as a starter. Though his run blocking was subpar at times, he was very effective overall, particularly when shutting down the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt. It would be a shame to see a player like Barksdale, who has shown the ability to be a long-term starting right tackle, be pushed back into a backup role at such a young age.
As far as Clinton-Dix is concerned, he would be a very wise pick for the Rams, who can’t afford to rely on former undrafted free agent Rodney McLeod as their starting free safety again after he was pressed into a role in 2013. They also let go veteran backups Darian Stewart and Matt Giordano, so the depth at the position is rather lacking. Clinton-Dix, a talented all-around safety who can hit hard and has incredible playmaking ability, would fix that problem immediately. With that said, there has been no news about the Rams conducting a private workout with Clinton-Dix, so it is unknown how much interest they really have.
It’s difficult to trust Casserly’s judgement too much, considering that he invested high first-round picks in quarterbacks like Heath Shuler and David Carr, two of the biggest draft busts of all time, and failed to build a playoff-worthy Texans team in his six years with the franchise. With that said, he has plenty of connections in personnel circles and probably has a good idea of what’s going on, so it should be interesting to see how accurate his predictions are come Thursday.