By: Christopher Snider
It’s no secret to anyone who follows the Rams that they have multiple glaring holes to fill this offseason. These holes include a back up quarterback, depth at offensive line, a defensive tackle, safety, depth at corner, and maybe even another outside linebacker.
Out of all the spots that the Rams need help at, defensive end seems to be the most solid position on the team with All-Pro Robert Quinn and veteran Chris Long. This is why at the surface it may not make sense, but the Rams cannot pass up on Jadeveon Clowney with the number two overall pick.
There is no doubt that Clowney is the best pass-rushing prospect to come out since Mario Williams and he may even be the pass-rushing prospect ever. Clowney has a skill set that has never before been seen at defensive end, standing at 6 foot 6 inches and weighing 275 pounds.
Pair that huge frame with a 4.46 40-yard dash, incredible strength, and a natural noise for the ball. He is one of the few blue chip prospects in this deep draft. If the Rams pass up on a guy with this much natural talent they may never see a player like him again.
If you break it down, there are really three main reasons one might argue against drafting Clowney. These would be that the Rams already have good defensive ends, Clowney’s discipline problem, and trading down to fill more needs on the team. Although Chris Long and Robert Quinn are good ends, Chris Long’s production has been slightly down lately and is not playing to the level of his 48 million dollar contract.
Under the new CBA the Rams could draft Clowney and have him at a rookie salary for around five years. This would allow the Rams to hold on to Long for one more year while they let Clowney develop and then part ways with the declining Long once he hits 30. Not to mention that Robert Quinn’s contract will be running out soon and will be demanding a large pay day.
The second reason the Rams would shy away from drafting Clowney would be his questionable character. His junior year at South Carolina, Clowney’s season was loaded with accusations of poor character. From sitting out of the Kentucky game, turning in bad performances against a few teams, displaying poor work ethic, and tallying up a few speeding tickets in the off season.
What people forget is that in the big picture, these “issues” are very minimal. Clowney has had no issues with drugs, alcohol, and has not been arrested. Also, Jeff Fisher has a history of helping athletes with their off the field issues and turning them into great players. For example, Janoris Jenkins had to leave Florida because of his off the field issues and is now excelling with the Rams.
Clowney’s off the field issues and work ethic should not worry the Rams. Finally, there are a lot of people who are in favor of trading down the number two over all pick. Although, that would not be a bad option, we already have a bounty of picks in this draft and there are options to fill some of our weak spots in free agency.
With some veteran wide receivers like Eric Decker and Anquan Boldin out there and safety Jarius Byrd entering free
agency, if we are able to free up some cap space we can immediately fill our need at those positions. With two picks in the first round the Rams could always trade down their second first round pick in the draft and receive more picks. Also, the Rams are expected to receive four additional picks in the lower part of the draft as compensatory picks for letting players go.
The Ram’s number two over all pick is also not as valuable as the Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin draft, so they will not receive as many picks of high value like they did for their number two over all pick that year. With this draft being such a deep draft the Rams should be able to fill most of their needs with their other picks in the draft.
The bottom line is the Rams cannot afford to pass up on a once in a lifetime talent like Jadeveon Clowney. All it would take for the Rams to be able to draft him would be to pull a couple strings and fill their needs in free agency and address their needs in the lower parts of the draft.
The Rams have been extremely successful in the last few drafts in the lower rounds, so if that trend continues the Rams could afford to draft the hands-down best prospect in this draft and get a tremendous player.