(RB) Todd Gurley – First Round 10th Overall (Georgia)
Strengths: Todd Gurley is one of the highest touted backs coming out of this years draft and even with the knee injury managed to be the first running back selected by the Rams with the tenth pick. Originally thought this was terrible, but let’s revisit. Gurley’s explosiveness and ability to break tackles is second to none. He can crash through the line and bust down the line with agility and speed. He has the ability to complement Tre Mason in the St. Louis backfield quite nicely if he can stay healthy.
At this point in time teams are moving towards more of a two back approach and with Stacy officially out of the picture there’s one less back to worry about in an already crowded backfield. The newer NFL rules favor running backs having a longer shelf life than normal, which makes investing in a long term runningback more worthwhile.
Weaknesses: The guy is coming off a torn ACL and the Rams haven’t done so well with its players and knee injuries so there is some cause for concern. With that being said there aren’t many bad things to say about Gurley other than that his productivity level will need to match or exceed what he did at Georgia to make this pick worth it.
Bottomline: HUGE risk/reward scenario on the table. On one hand its a great pickup if he does indeed become the next Adrian Peterson or his knee could set him back. The Rams prioritized him as a top option and while I along with many of you often question the Rams management, the more I think about this pick the more I like it.
(OT) Rob Havenstein- Second Round 57th Overall (Wisconsin)
Strengths: This guy is flat out massive. 6’7” and 321 pounds makes Havenstein a perfect option at right tackle for St. Louis. He has quick feet and drives with his legs, which allows him to open up holes in the run game. He uses his powerful stance to drive through the linemen and bulldoze a path that the run game will hopefully use to its advantage. Works well controlling defenses on point of attack and his initial strike off the line is powerful.
Weaknesses: Some cause for concern about his hand placement off the start. He tends to put his hands up to high on the body of the defender exposing himself to being shed off too easily. He needs to work on doing a better job of getting underneath linemen at the point of attack and use his strong legs to drive them back as opposed to getting caught flat footed.
Bottomline: I like the size he has, but the big question becomes how can he compete at this level of play? This is a position of concern for St. Louis and Havenstein will get his fair share of opportunities to show that he has what it takes to play in this league.
(OT) Jamon Brown – Second Round 72nd Overall (Louisville)
Strengths: Brown is another big guy that could see immediate playing time on the Rams. His big frame allows him to make it difficult for defensive tackles to get by him. Like Havenstein Brown is great off the ball and really drives home the first punch. He’s able to get his feet underneath him on quickly to get good positioning inside.
Weaknesses: His size becomes a problem when the running back has to detour around him. He shares a similar issue with Havenstein in not being able to recover quickly from being beaten on plays. If he misses a block his size prevents him from establishing position along the line to hold off pressure.
Bottomline: He will need to drop a few punds and improve his lateral quickness if he wants consistent starts on the Rams. Right now his endurance is in question because we don’t know if he will be able to put up with the full games.
(QB) Sean Mannion – Third Round 89th Overall (Oregon State)
Strengths: Mannion is a four-year starter who blows you away with his production. He owns 18 passing records at Oregon State and shows good ability with three step, five step and seven step drops. At 6’6” 229 pounds, Mannion has good size, which allows him to see well over the line. He has a good release and shows NFL qualities while in the pocket.
Mannion had a terrific season in his junior year when he Oregon State had the talent around him. He played in an offense that translates to the NFL, which could speed up the adjustment to the NFL game for Mannion. His ball placement is above-average, and he is able to throw from play action to a high level.
Weaknesses: Mannion struggled to say the least in his senior year. A lot of the blame can be put on the lack of talent around him. Mannion was sacked 36 times in the 2014 season, which was tied for 15th most in the country. Last year, Mannion’s decision making sometimes was in question as he threw into double coverage numerous times.
Mannion sometimes plays a bit slow. He can be slow getting through his progressions, and struggles when forced to move outside the pocket when it collapsed last year. His arm strength is a little below average, and he can sometimes panic when pressured. He finished his career with 30 fumbles and 54 interceptions over four years, so ball security is a concern.
Bottomline: Mannion is a project that will have time to develop while Nick Foles is the starter for at least next year. Mannion’s senior year was one to forget, but we think a lot of the blame does not fall on him. If the Rams can build up some pieces around Mannion, he has the potential to be one the best quarterbacks of this class.
(OT) Andrew Donnal – Fourth Round 119th Overall (Iowa)
Strengths: Donnal has a good knowledge of the plays and adapts well to changing pressures from different defensive schemes. He has the ability to lock down on pass rushers and limits the attack to the quarterback.
Weaknesses: Unlike the other two drafted Donnal doesn’t have great hands or feet. he tends to get knocked off the line and blown by at times, which is concerning to a point. He needs to build up the leg strength and be more coordinated with his upper frame to get the first position.
Bottomline: The Rams continued to address the line in grabbing Donnal and though a few others were drafted ahead of him he will have an equal chance to compete for a spot.
(WR) Bud Sasser – Sixth Round 201st Overall (Missouri)
Strengths: Sasser is a big receiver that does a terrific job in jump-ball situations. Sasser set personal bests at Missouri last year with 77 receptions, 1,003 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. He has good, not great size at 6’2” 210 pounds and ran a 4.51 40-yard dash with a 34.5 inch vertical at the combine, which helped his stock.
He plays bigger than his height when asked to make the jump-ball catch and developed his route running more in his senior year. Sasser does a good job catching the ball with his hands and not his body, unlike former Missouri wide receiver L’Damien Washington. These factors make him a quality red zone target as he does a good job of body awareness when making catches along the sidelines or in the end zone.
Weaknesses: Despite a good 40 time and good size, Sasser often failed to get the type of separation one would expect. Although he improved as a route runner, his route tree was limited, and he needs to do a better job with running crossing routes by improving in and out of his cuts.
Sasser often times gets caught at the line, which doesn’t help his lack of ability to gain separation. He needs to improve his variety of rip, swim and speed moves to get off the line quickly and gain separation in the first 3-5 yards of his route off the line. Sasser lacks long distance speed and won’t blow away any defensive backs after the catch.
Bottom Line: Sasser is a project as a receiver, and his lack of elite speed may make it difficult for him to make the roster despite a lack of depth at the receiver position in St. Louis. He has the ability to become a NFL receiver if he can improve his ability to gain separation, but don’t expect anything from him in his first year in the league.
(OG) Cody Wichmann – Sixth Round 215th Overall (Fresno St.)
Strengths: At 6’6” and 315 pounds Wichmann has the size to play in the NFL with a tough strong build. He prevents the inside pass rusher and is an overall brute that can handle pressure when thrown at him. He’s got good hands and great feet off the jump.
Weaknesses: He needs to adjust better when he’s moved off his position. He needs to be quicker and more athletic if he wants to earn a roster spot.
Bottomline: Drafted as insurance to help work the other offensive linemen on the team, but has an equal shot at the roster. He needs to learn to be quicker and handle pressure better away from his natural position.
(ILB) Bryce Hager – Seventh Round 234th Overall (Baylor)
Strengths: This pick came from the Jets after St. Louis sent running back Zac Stacy to New York for the pick. At this pick, Hager provides decent value with his ability to show good explosiveness. He shows good ability to move laterally when forced to move across the field to make tackles. Hager is a former running back who uses his speed well to play in a variety of coverage schemes and looks.
Weaknesses: He is undersized at 6’1” 234 pounds, and Hager gets caught up in the line in blitzing scenarios. His lack of size can get him in trouble when forced to cover bigger-bodied tight ends as well. Due to his lack of size and strength, he may have to switch and play outside linebacker in a 4-3 system, which would be more suited to his size and skill set.
Bottomline: Hager’s speed could earn him a spot on the roster on special teams, but he likely won’t be able to develop into a NFL inside linebacker. He could develop into a good utility linebacker who can come in for relief in a few different roles.
(DE) Martin Ifedi – Seventh Round 227th Overall (Memphis)
Strengths: Ifedi works hard and continues to grind out plays throughout the game. He has good jumps of the snap and works to make plays in open space. He reacts quickly to plays and shuts down the run game.
Weaknesses: Ifedi is tentative when making tackles. Instead of driving through and finishing the play he tends to ease up on impact. He can improve on his ability to keep the defense guessing. He tends to tip his hand and quarterbacks are easily able to gauge his movements.
Bottomline: He will need to work hard to make the team, but with some development over time could become a quality pass rusher.
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