Jeff Fisher took over the St. Louis Rams last year, and it appears as though he’s on the right track. I can’t help but wonder if he made the right decision passing on Robert Griffin III for the in-house Heisman winner Sam Bradford, but time will tell there.
The Rams were able to compete and not only that in their division (which featured the Super Bowl Champion), but they were undefeated in division play. The defense was greatly improved, and now it’s time for the offense to follow suit. They have already made a really bold move in the offseason by adding wide receiver Titus Young to the fray, a group that includes now four draft picks from the last two classes of players (Austin Pettis, Chris Givens, Brian Quick).
This is a team with some key free agents, and two first round picks with which to work. Here are their top needs in my opinion, in no particular order.
1. Offensive Line
This is truly the Rams’ number one need. I’m not exactly sure which direction they’ll choose to go with their first round picks, but I’m relatively certain that one of their selections will be used on an offensive lineman, if not both. The Rams could use a right tackle and guard. Surprisingly, the Rams allowed just 35 sacks last year, compared to them sacking opposing quarterbacks 52 times. Right tackle Barry Richardson and left guard Robert Turner are free agents this offseason, so the Rams will undoubtedly be looking for some upgrades. There are some really good players available in free agency, and perhaps to preserve a first round pick, the Rams will look to spend some cash on a big name free agent like Jake Long or Branden Albert.
Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl were able to come up with one interception between the both of them last year, and despite how well the Rams’ cornerback position was improved in 2012, the safety position left room for improvement. Mikell will likely be back, as he had a pretty good 2012 campaign. Dahl is a free agent and is not a good starter in this league. The Rams will likely upgrade the safety position within the first two rounds.
3. Defensive Tackle
The Rams have used three first round picks in recent drafts on the defensive line, but despite the addition of Michael Brockers last year, their run defense was still middle of the road and the depth up front is suspect. In addition to potentially adding a starter at the defensive tackle position, the Rams could look to add more depth at defensive end, where they have two stud pass rushers in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but little else.
4. Tight End
Lance Kendricks had a solid year in 2012 in his second year in the NFL, but the Rams need more at the TE position. There is no depth whatsoever behind Kendricks, and I think St. Louis could take advantage of a really solid class of tight ends and add some more talent.
5. Wide Receiver
Despite the young talent on the St. Louis roster, this is still a position of need. I think the Rams need to look to a veteran option in free agency to help them along, a guy who can be a factor on the outside. Perhaps they can convince Dwayne Bowe to come to St. Louis. There are some good young players on this team, but I feel like a veteran option is needed with Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola set to hit the free agent market.
6. Running Back
Daryl Richardson had a good rookie season spelling Steven Jackson, but Jackson has been the Rams’ identity offensively since 2004, pretty much. Jackson is a free agent, and last year’s second round pick Isaiah Pead didn’t do much of anything. I think the Rams probably feel like Richardson can be a capable second tailback, and Pead a change of pace back, but perhaps they’ll be in the market for a quick veteran stop-gap like Shonn Greene. Maybe they could also try to revive Rashard Mendenhall. Either way, Jeff Fisher’s teams need a good running game, so the Rams will likely make this position a priority. They have a slew of solid class of 2012 players with Richardson, Pead, and Terrance Ganaway.
Kellen Clemens is a free agent, and I think it’s time the Rams started to push Sam Bradford a little bit. Bradford had a really improved season this past year, but he’s never been challenged as the Rams’ starter in my opinion. I think the Rams should look to use a middle round pick or perhaps as early as a third rounder on a QB depending on who should fall.