My rundown through the entire first round of the NFL draft continues as I examine the St. Louis Rams who hold the #13 pick in the first round.
The Pick: Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville
Having gotten some extra beef on their offensive line with the first pick, the Rams should look to solidify the back end of their defense. Calvin Pryor was a late riser on draft boards before the scouting combine. Yet as the tape began to surface it was clear the Louisville product is arguably the most complete safety in the 2014 class. He’s got plenty of size and strength but also the required range and athleticism of a true free safety. Finding a talent like him at what is becoming a more and more important position is critical.
Why: Good in coverage like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix but better against run
Obviously the argument that will sprout up is why the St. Louis Rams would take him and not Alabama standout Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Indeed the Crimson Tide star rates higher on a lot of boards mostly due to his excellent length, range and ability to read and react to the quarterback then drive on the football in the air. The key factor to this is that Pryor has improved a lot in coverage. He’s not quite at the level of Clinton-Dix but he’s getting there. What separates him is his physicality. Pryor can drive down into the box and deliver some vicious hits while making the required tackles. Such versatility gives him slightly higher upside.
Argument: Mike Evans might give Sam Bradford clear go-to target
A lot of St. Louis Rams fans believe the first round should be about improving the state of the offense. The two biggest issues on that side of the ball were pass protection and receiving. Tavon Austin was highly inconsistent last season and the team really could use a more reliable go-to target for quarterback Sam Bradford who is set to return from a torn ACL. That would make Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans a prime target. Considered a gamble by many considering he’s just a sophomore coming out of college, Evans eased a lot of fears when he turned in an excellent scouting combine. His 6’5″ frame coupled with explosive leaping ability and deceptive speed remind many scouts of Vincent Jackson. Bradford couldn’t turn down that kind of weapon.
Counter-argument: Jeff Fisher can find receivers in later rounds
The St. Louis Rams do need more help at that position but frankly given the depth of this 2014 NFL draft, head coach Jeff Fisher should know he can find a quality target for Bradford in second or third rounds. Complete safeties don’t come around often and their presence is not nearly as strong in terms of class depth. In other words if the St. Louis Rams plan to get one, they need to get him early.
That is why I would take Calvin Pryor if I were in charge. What are your thoughts?