5) Kansas City completed its draft by takingC Eric Kush from California (Penn.), FB Braden Wilson from Kansas State, and DE Mike Catapano from Princeton.
Of that trio, I believe Catapano has the best chance of making a significant impact. He was the Ivy League’s most outstanding defensive player in 2012 after accumulating 12 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss.
He’s also got some very good measurables: 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, 4.75 forty, 33 bench press reps.
The Chiefs appear to have two immediate starters from this group. I wish the front office would have done something else at wide receiver, because I don’t think anyone is sold on Jonathan Baldwin yet. Maybe Kelce will be used more as a tight end off the line, we’ll see.
Kansas City didn’t have many glaring holes to fill, and perhaps that’s why they took on so many players with significant question marks but very high ceilings. I will say this, though, if Fisher works out as the team hopes, a franchise left tackle makes any draft a successful one.
6) The St. Louis Rams get a draft grade of…A-
GM Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher provide such a competent juxtaposition to what Rams fans had grown used to seeing in leadership roles for the better part of a decade.
Last year’s draft produced five immediate starters (which includes undrafted rookie free agent punter Johnny Hekker). This year’s class may be even better than that.
Snead wanted to add athleticism, speed, and playmaking ability to his roster and, boy, did he ever.
St. Louis started round one with picks No. 16 and No. 22. Snead made a splash by trading up with Buffalo to No. 8 in first round to take the top wide receiver on the board, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin.
Due to his 4.3 speed and Madden-like moves in the open field, Austin gets comparisons to players like Percy Harvin and Devin Hester. See for yourself.
Not only is this a valuable pick for QB Sam Bradford and the Ram offense, but almost as importantly, it immediately give the Rams one of the most dangerous returnmen in the entire league. St. Louis has not had a legitimate kick return threat in a decade.
Even with the trade up eight spots, Austin gave the Rams tremendous value and an obvious boost to what was a plodding offensive unit one year ago.
7) St. Louis still had another first round pick to use, and instead of staying put at No. 22, Snead maneuvered back eight spots to No. 30 with the Atlanta Falcons. This was a perfect move for two reasons: 1) The Rams recouped some valuable mid-round picks that were lost in the move up with Buffalo to get Austin. 2) The player the Rams wanted all along at No. 22, they got at No 30.
With the 30th pick in the first round, the Rams added more speed and playmaking ability, this time to the defense, with the selection of Georgia LB Alec Ogletree.
Ogletree is a top-15 talent like Tavon Austin, but he comes with some baggage.
He was arrested for DUI one week prior to the NFL Combine, and Missouri Tiger fans will remember he didn’t play in the Septemeber 8 matchup with Georgia in Columbia because he was serving a suspension for failing a drug test.
One thing Jeff Fisher is not afraid of is a character risk. The choice to select CB Janoris Jenkins in the second round, who fell for the exact same reasons as Ogletree, certainly has paid off to this point. Fisher is hoping his fatherly demeanor can pay off once again and provide MLB James Laurinaitis with the athletic, run and strike compliment he so desperately needs on the weak side.
Playing in the NFC West against Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, you better have some linebackers and safeties that can run sideline-to-sideline and deliver hits. No one in this draft pool does that better than Ogletree.
8) Without a second round pick due to the Austin trade, the Rams didn’t pick again until the third round, but once they made the pick at No. 71, they selected a third consecutive immediate starter in S T.J. McDonald.
Now, the bar was set so low last season with Craig Dahl that anyone who the Rams selected at the position would be an immediate upgrade. So McDonald has that going for him.
Like Ogletree, this former USC Trojan is a defensive player known for his ability to seek and destroy. He’s rangy and has good size, but is not considered to be great in coverage. That’s fine. The Rams have some of the best cover corners in the league, and what Fisher needs from his safeties are a) be better than Craig Dahl (easily done) b) violently strike your opposition.
McDonald, by the way, has outstanding pedigree. His father, Tim, was a six-time Pro Bowl safety in the NFL while playing for the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals and, more notably, the San Francisco 49ers.
9) The Rams may not have gotten a starter with the second pick in round three (or maybe they did), but they once again filled a desperate need with tremendous value.
At pick No. 92, St. Louis doubled up on West Virginia wide receivers and selected Stedman Bailey.