The St. Louis Rams took a huge step back in 2011 after starting the season as the favorites to win the NFC West. Some of this had to do with a wide array of injuries suffered throughout the team. Some of it had to do with bad luck, while most of it had to do with a lack of talent on both sides of the ball.
In reality, they just weren't as good as their 2010 record indicated and that became apparent as last season progressed.
The good news is that this team has a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford an excellent new head coach in Jeff Fisher and a valuable trade chip in the second overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Which brings me to my initial point.
This mock draft will be the only kind that I conduct throughout my series covering the NFC West that includes a projected trade.
* The St. Louis Rams trade the 2nd overall selection to the Cleveland Browns for the 4th overall selection, 22nd pick and 37th pick.
1st round, 4th pick: CB- Morris Claiborne, Louisiana State
The Rams are in desperate need of a shutdown caliber corner. Their rotation as it currently stands consists of a bunch of injury-riddled nickel players. In order for them to instill the toughness that Jeff Fisher wants the defense to represent, they need to get someone that can force the quarterback to hold on to the ball longer.
Morris Claiborne is the consensus No. 1 corner in the draft and can come in immediately to be the Rams best defensive back: this is how good I view him to be.
1st round, 22nd pick: OL- Cordy Glenn, Georgia
It really doesn't matter how good your quarterback is of the franchise variety and you have a future Hall-of-Fame running back. If you cannot pass protect or run block you are in trouble. The Rams have spent top picks on the offensive line over the course of the last decade, but it hasn't worked out too great for them.
While I do view Rodger Saffold as a solid player, he is only one of the Rams bunch that has a future with the team.
Cordy Glenn brings them tremendous value with this pick. He has a great combination of strength and showed himself to be surprisingly agile at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Rams could either move Glenn outside of keep him inside to be a dominating guard.
2nd round, 33rd pick: WR- Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers
Sanu really didn't impress people a great deal at the combine, but he has the physical ability to be a difference maker on the outside for St. Louis. After all, it seems that they are currently without that right now.
Much like the corner position, the Rams roster is filled with a nice amount of complementary players at wide receiver. It is high-time they get a true No. 1 and Sanu has the capability of becoming that.
2nd round, 37th pick: DL- Jared Crick, Nebraska
The Rams front seven wasn't as atrocious as the rest of their roster, but it was marginal at best. They do have some nice young players here, but it will be extremely hard to pass up the value that Jared Crick offers them here.
He is an individual that can line up on the outside or inside, depending on the specific scheme/play. The former Nebraska standout has the capability of being a Justin Smith type player. You cannot ask for much more than that in the second round.
3rd round, 66th pick: TE- Dwayne Allen, Clemson
St. Louis did select Lance Kendricks in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but different issues prevented him from breaking out as a rookie. Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to have multiple weapons between the hashes.
I had Allen as a late first round pick about a month ago, but he has since slid due to an unimpressive combine performance. This is a player with all the tools to be like a Vernon Davis for the St. Louis Rams. He can stretch the field up the middle, has the ability to line up outside and is a tremendous matchup issue for opposing safeties. Just another weapon for Sam Bradford.
4th round, 96th pick: RB- Robert Turbin, Utah State
One of the fastest risers on my board, the Utah State alum is a victim of circumstance here. He is among the best second-tier running back prospects, but gets lost in the conversation due to playing at a small school in college.
The Rams need to get younger at the running back position. Steven Jackson is probably on his last legs as a premiere running back in the league, having a couple years remaining. Why not get value at a need position here?
6th round, 160th pick: WR- T.J. Graham, North Carolina State
Running a 4.41 40-yard dash will never hurt a receivers draft stock. This is one of the primary reasons that Graham went from outside of my top 200 and into my top 150. Now, I fully understand that speed isn't everything, but it is something the Rams need a great deal.
He will be able to stretch the field on the outside and become a big play threat. Limited in where he can play because the former North Carolina State star struggles against jam coverage. Still, a solid value pick here.
7th round, 192nd pick: S- Tramain Thomas, Arkansas
Still asking myself why Thomas wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. He has performed at an extremely high level for the Razorbacks in the SEC, going up against top level competition.
The Rams don't just need help at the corner position in the secondary. They didn't get a whole lot of help at safety in 2011. This is more of a project pick as Thomas does tend to struggle with reading offenses and in coverage.
7th round, 194th pick: CB- Donnie Fletcher, Boston College
Fletcher had a mid-round grade until I actually watched tape on him. This is a corner that struggles with the nuances of playing the corner position. He isn't good back peddling, struggles with hip fluidity and can get lost on the outside.
What Fletcher does great is jam the receiver at the line and anticipate where the quarterback is going to throw the ball. Tremendous upside for a 7th round pick.