As the St. Louis Rams head into the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft, they’ll likely be looking to fill some more pressing needs after taking advantage of Thusday’s opportunity to elevate both their offensive and defensive lines to some of the best in the NFL with the selection of guard Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The Rams have some holes at cornerback and safety and could use more depth at quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end, so it should be interesting to see what they do.
The biggest holes remaining are definitely in the defensive backfield. Beyond last year’s third rounder, T.J. McDonald, who will serve as the starting strong safety, the Rams have only former undrafted free agents Matt Daniels, Cody Davis, and Rodney McLeod, who was the team’s starter at free safety last year but didn’t really make a huge impact. One player who could be intriguing in the second round is Florida State free safety Terrence Brooks, a hard hitter who is capable of making plays and is probably the best pure safety left on the board. If they can’t get Brooks, the Rams will probably have to settle for starting McLeod again in 2014.
There is also a major hole at the nickelback position. The Rams currently have Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins, who served as the starters in 2013, on the roster, but beyond those two 2013 5th-rounder Brandon McGee is the only other corner who has ever taken a snap in an NFL game. McLeod was the team’s primary nickelback last season, but that was when the Rams had veteran backup safeties Darian Stewart and Matt Giordano, who are no longer are on the roster.
Pierre Desir, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound corner from Lindenwood, would be a natural fit and provide a nice local connection. Desir is one of the top corners left on the board, so the Rams should probably target him with pick 44 if they plan on getting him. Otherwise, some additional options could be Nebraska corner Stan Jean-Baptiste, Clemson’s Bashaud Breeland, or Missouri’s EJ Gaines.
Another attractive option to consider would be Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner, a hybrid free safety/nickelback who was used at FSU much like the Arizona Cardinals used Tyrann Mathieu during 2013. In a division where every other team now has a player that they can use in this way (Mathieu in Arizona, Earl Thomas in Seattle, and Jimmie Ward in San Francisco), Joyner would make a lot of sense for the Rams despite his lack of size at 5-foot-8 and 184 pounds.
If the Rams decide to go offense on Day 2, the wide receiver position would be the safest bet. Numerous players are still left on the board who could be starters right away, including USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Indiana’s Cody Latimer, Ole Miss’s Donte Moncrief, LSU’s Jarvis Landry, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Fresno State’s Davante Adams, and Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis. Though all of these players would be intriguing picks, Lee would probably be the most exciting considering that he was widely considered the top receiver in the draft and a top-5 worthy selection prior to a down 2013.
Another spot at which the Rams could decide some depth is tight end. After adopting a run-first approach a quarter of the way into 2013, the Rams ran plenty of three and sometimes even four-tight end sets. But after letting go their fourth tight end, Mike McNeill, the next player beyond Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, and Cory Harkey is former Indianapolis Colts Mr. Irrelevant Justice Cunningham. On most teams, the fourth tight end would not be a player who would get any time from scrimmage, but with the Rams it’s more of a viable spot.
Tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jace Amaro are still on the board, and both of them would be intriguing. Seferian-Jenkins is the best all-around tight end in the class, possessing great blocking and receiving ability, so he could immediately step into Harkey’s role if the Rams selected him and provide insurance for Cook and the injury-prone Kendricks if they underwhelm again in 2014. Amaro, meanwhile, is not nearly as good of a blocker as Seferian-Jenkins, but selecting him would be the equivalent of taking a really big, powerful slot receiver. Adding Amaro would be similar to the move the Detroit Lions made last night by selecting receiving specialist Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick.
Finally, the Rams could opt to find a third-string quarterback on Day 2. Fresno State’s Derek Carr, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, and Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage are all possible second day options that the Rams conducted private workouts with this offseason. While each of them have things they need to be coached up on, they all have qualities that could make them starters down the line. In addition, Eastern Illinois’s Jimmy Garoppolo and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas are signal-callers that have drawn discussion as possible second day picks, and they might be quarterbacks that the Rams could have interest in.