The St. Louis Rams established themselves as a team on the rise this past season, finishing 7-8-1. But against the San Francisco 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks and the extremely challenging NFC West, the Rams need drastic improvement at several positions.
Thanks to the trade last season that sent the No. 2 overall pick -- eventually becoming Robert Griffin III -- to the Washington Redskins, the Rams have two first-round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. With their first selection at No. 16, Rob Rang of CBS Sports has St. Louis selecting offensive guard Chance Warmack out of Alabama.
On Warmack, Rang says the following:
Just a few years ago using a top-20 pick on an interior lineman might have seemed silly. The need to protect the quarterback, however, has changed everything and few understand that better than St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher. Warmack is viewed by some talent evaluators as the safest prospect in the 2013 draft.
Warmack is widely considered the best offensive guard in this year's draft class and would, presumably, fill in right away on a Rams offensive line that allowed the eighth-most sacks in the league last season. Mocking the Draft's Matthew Fairburn agrees with Rang on this selection, calling Warmack "one of the best draft prospects to come along in a long time." At the very least, Warmack would provide depth in a position where St. Louis most needs it.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. lists Warmack as the fifth-most talented player in the draft.
For the 22nd pick, Rang has the Rams selecting strong safety Matt Elam from the University of Florida. He sees Elam solidifying an already top-notch secondary.
The Rams struck gold a year ago in free agency and the draft at the cornerback position, landing not only veteran Cortland Finnegan and rookie sensation Janoris Jenkins. While the boundaries appear more secure, the deep middle continued to be a problem for St. Louis. Head coach Jeff Fisher's defenses have always featured physical defensive backs and they don't come much tougher or more aggressive than Elam.
Strong safety is certainly a need for St. Louis, but Elam at No. 22 is an interesting selection. Many other mocks don't have Elam in the first round at all, including Mocking the Draft.
Elam, like many other Florida defensive backs, is known for his physical play. He measured in at 5'10 and 202 pounds with a 4.53 40-yard dash at last year's NFL combine.