St. Louis Rams Draft Stock Watch: 10 Players Rising and Falling Down Rams' Board
The St. Louis Rams have just over a month to solidify their draft board and figure out how to utilize the team's two first-round draft selections.
The team has been very quiet in free agency, but a few minor moves and low-key pickups may alter the team's draft strategy. Also, prospects' stocks are constantly rising and falling with the ongoing pro days, along with other various factors.
With the bulk of free agency now complete, this article will provide an updated analysis on which draft prospects are sinking or swimming in the eyes of the Rams.
Rising: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
The Rams signed free-agent corner Greg Reid, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. And while Reid is a nice diamond in the rough to add to the mix, he hardly eliminates the need for a starting-caliber cornerback.
Justin Gilbert had a phenomenal combine and has established himself as the top cornerback of this class.
Top-notch starting cornerbacks are a rare and valuable commodity in today's NFL, so it's hard to believe that Gilbert is not very high on St. Louis' list at No. 13 overall.
The main question at this point is whether or not Gilbert will slip out of the top 10.
Falling: LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Khalil Mack is a consensus top-10 prospect and has a real shot at being one of the first five players drafted, but the Rams are in a position to pass on the small-school standout.
The Rams re-signed veteran Jo-Lonn Dunbar to a two-year deal, according to Jonathan Webb of StLouisRams.com.
With Dunbar, combined with two second-year linebackers with monster potential in Ray-Ray Armstrong and Daren Bates, the Rams have enough talent at linebacker to compete for the starting job opposite Alec Ogletree.
Drafting Mack would be reckless and pointless.
Rising: DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
The Rams signed backup defensive tackle Alex Carrington in free agency, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and that helps with depth. But the team also hosted a visit for Henry Melton, which indicates the Rams are looking for more than mere depth.
The Melton visit tells us that the Rams are in the market for another dominate defensive tackle to place next to Michael Brockers in the starting lineup, which makes Aaron Donald an intriguing option at No. 13.
The Rams have Kendall Langford under contract, and while Langford has been solid, the Rams certainly have room for improvement.
Falling: T Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Taylor Lewan had an unbelievable combine and certainly earned his way into consideration for St. Louis' No. 13 pick, but legal troubles have unfortunately ruined his draft stock.
According to Michael Rothstein at ESPN.com, Lewan is now facing three assault charges from a very recent incident reported on December 1, 2013.
Traditionally, we hear numerous reports around this time of year stating how red-flag characters have found the light and are on the right path (just in time for the draft, what a coincidence!), but considering Lewan's incident occurred five months before the draft, teams won't be buying his claims of reform.
It's a shame some players are unable to behave like civil human beings in exchange for a multi-million dollar contract, but that's how it goes. As a result, Lewan has to be off St. Louis' radar in the first round.
Rising: S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
The Rams showed interest in star safety Jairus Byrd in free agency and even reached out, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, but St. Louis was unable to secure him with a contract.
As a result, second-year player T.J. McDonald and third-year pro Rodney McLeod are the only safeties on the roster with starting experience.
McDonald is a promising talent, but the team can do better than McLeod. This makes Alabama standout Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a realistic option at No. 13.
Falling: QB Johnny Manziel
I've always maintained that Johnny Manziel is overrated as a prospect and destined to experience a Matt Barkley-style drop on draft day. Some of the mock drafts around the web are finally starting to catch on, too, such as Walter Football.
The Rams failed to re-sign backup Kellen Clemens. So until recently, it appeared that the Rams were in the market for any of the top rookie quarterbacks in danger of slipping to the second or third round, including Manziel.
Now, that's no longer the case. Jim Thomas of STLtoday.com recently reported that the Rams inked veteran Shaun Hill to a contract.
With Hill joining the team, you can say goodbye to Manziel and the rest of the second- and third-round passers from the upcoming draft. They will now disappear from St. Louis' draft board completely.
Rising: G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
The re-signing of Rodger Saffold takes care of one starting guard position and provides the Rams with a competent No. 3 tackle, but the other starting guard spot is wide open.
With that in mind, Xavier Su'a-Filo makes a lot of sense in the second round. He's a Day 1 starter and will immediately fill St. Louis' greatest weakness on the offensive line.
If the Rams pass on a first-round offensive lineman, don't be surprised if Su'a-Filo's name is called in Round 2.
Falling: T Greg Robinson, Auburn
With the re-signing of Saffold, the Rams now have their No. 3 tackle, so the position is no longer a pressing need.
Greg Robinson is still very much in play. He can start his career at guard (which remains a need for the Rams) and take over at left tackle if Jake Long goes down again, which is not exactly an outrageous scenario given Long's injury history.
Although, with Saffold in place, the Rams now have the luxury of exploring other positions, which could decrease Robinson's value in the eyes of the St. Louis coaching staff.
Rising: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Justin Gilbert's stock is soaring, and there's a good chance he won't drop to the Rams at No. 13 overall, so the Rams need to start eyeing other cornerbacks from this draft.
Darqueze Dennard is the second-best corner in the draft and not far behind Gilbert. Like Gilbert, he's a strong, tough corner who can cover and secure open-field tackles.
Gilbert is ideal at No. 13, but Dennard is a nice consolation prize.
Rising: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Robinson and Jadeveon Clowney are in the mix for St. Louis' No. 2 pick, but Saffold eliminates the need for Robinson and the Rams are loaded at defensive end, which makes Clowney somewhat unlikely.
That means all eyes are focused on Clemson standout Sammy Watkins.
Watkins finally gives the team a No. 1 receiver on the outside—something the team has been lacking since the departure of Torry Holt—and gives quarterback Sam Bradford an unbelievable arsenal of receivers, which also features Tavon Austin, deep-ball threat Chris Givens and red-zone tight end Jared Cook.
If Watkins comes to St. Louis, the offense has a shot at being on the same level as the team's relentless defense.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.