After hauling in a few playmakers in the first round of the NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams front office used two third round selections to add much needed depth at two positions of need.
Heading into the second round the Rams had several needs to address, including safety, running back, offensive line and wide receiver. St. Louis traded away their only second round pick to Buffalo in the deal that ultimately brought Tavon Austin to the Gateway City, so Jeff Fisher and Les Snead would have to wait until the 9th pick of the third round to go to work. Picking at 71st overall the Rams had several options to consider with highly rated prospects available on both sides of the ball.
Safeties like Shamarko Thomas, Earl Wolff and Bacarri Rambo were still on the board on the defensive side. While running backs like Jonathan Franklin, Stepfan Taylor, Marcus Lattimore and Kenjon Barner and wide receivers like Keenan Allen were also available. But in the end, it was time for the Rams to address their second biggest need, finding a hard-hitting safety.
And after drafting USC safety T.J. McDonald with the 71st pick, consider that mission accomplished.
McDonald is a physical, inside the box safety, similar to Bernard Pollard. He possesses solid ball skills and can knock down the high passes and the low throws as well. He also uses his length to stay off linemen and tackle running backs in traffic and swallow up receivers in the flat. His 6’2, 219 pound frame will make sure that he doesn’t get outmuscled on the line and that he can hold his own in jump ball situations as well.
McDonald’s Reaction To Being Drafted By St. Louis:
— TJ McDonald (@tmcdonaldjr) April 27, 2013
Some immediately questioned why McDonald was chosen over a guys like Shamarko Thomas and Earl Wolff. It’s important to remember that the distinction of free/strong safety ins’t as significant in a Jeff Fisher style defense. He wants players who are versatile and can play interchangeably on the field, which creates a more dynamic defense. The bottom line: McDonald fits within the Fisher scheme better than the others in the eyes of the coach, and I won’t question his ability to pick defensive backs. After all, he is the one who drafted Cortland Finnegan and we know what type of player he is. The Rams capped off their night by finding another weapon for Sam Bradford, drafting West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey with the 92nd pick.
Bailey is the replacement for Brandon Gibson, who went to South Beach via free agency. He is a solid possession receiver who has good hands and runs routes well. Bailey led the nation with 25 touchdown receptions in 2012. He also finished the year 3rd in yards with 1,622 and 2nd in receptions with 114 catches in an offense that also included Tavon Austin. This pick makes this offense even more dynamic and opens up the Rams offensive playbook. With Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Austin Pettis and the hybrid tight end/receiver Jared Cook, this offense could be explosive. Dare I say we are seeing the birth of The Greatest Show on Turf 2.0? Only time will tell. Stedman Reacts To Selection on Twitter:
After four picks the Rams draft board may be among the best in the NFL. They secured the top wide receiver and one of the top linebackers in the first round and filled their other biggest need with a quality player in the 2nd round. St. Louis still needs to pick up a running back and perhaps some depth at safety on at guard and they are poised to do that with four picks remaining in rounds 4-7.
Current and Former Rams React To 2nd Day Selections
Rams defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn and corner back Trumaine Johnson react to selection of T.J. McDonald:
kid looks like he will hit some folks. i can dig it — Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) April 27, 2013
#Rams getting better everyone better be aware
— Robert Quinn (@RQuinn94) April 27, 2013
NFC WEST GONE BE TURNT ALL THE WAY UP!!!!! CAN’T WAIT !!!!
— Trumaine Johnson (@Trujohnson2) April 27, 2013
Former Rams wide out, “Big Game” Torry Holt and current Rams receiver Chris Givens on selection of Stedman Bailey:
— Torry Holt (@BigGame81) April 27, 2013
Congrats @iamsb3 welcome to the fam bro. Lets work!
— Chris Givens (@CG1three) April 27, 2013