The 2012 season was a rebound campaign for the St. Louis Rams under veteran Head Coach Jeff Fisher and first-year General Manager Les Snead. After finishing the 2011 season at a dismal 2-14, former Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo was fired and Owner Stan Kroenke went out and got the best available free-agent coach available: Jeff Fisher. Fisher, armed with the second pick in the draft, brought his
no-nonsense style to the Gateway City and has the team, and the city, believing the franchise has turned a corner toward respectability. Fisher and Snead turned the second pick into a fistful of draft choices that produced multiple starters and key contributors including DT Michael Brockers, CB Janoris Jenkins, K Greg Zuerlein and WR Chris Givens. The franchise is now poised to be competitive in the ever-improving NFC West Division and be in a position to challenge for the playoffs every year.
Even though new Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher won’t say it, 2012 was a rebuilding year as the team rebounded from 2-14 to finish a respectable 7-8-1. The Rams did not make the playoffs but showed promise for the future; the team nearly went unbeaten in NFC West play going 4-1-1. A belief in the franchise’s direction, sorely lacking in previous years, is now clearly in place for St. Louis.
Positions of Need
Despite the improvement, the Rams still have a number of key positions to improve across the roster including critical needs at offensive line, safety and outside linebacker. On the O-Line, the Rams are in need of significant upgrades at right tackle and left guard as Barry Richardson and Wayne Hunter were not the answer. James Laurinaitis continues to anchor the linebacking corps, but the team needs some young talent around him as Rocky McIntosh and Jo-Lonn Dunbar are not long-term solutions on the outside. In the defensive secondary, free safety continues to be the weakest link. The team needs to find a consistent playmaker to roam the back end of the defense. Also still sorely lacking on the offensive side is a playmaking vertical threat at wide receiver to help Sam Bradford stretch the field.
First Round Target(s)
St. Louis is the only team with two picks in the first round (their own at No. 16 and the Redskins’ No. 22 from the RGIII trade) so they are in prime position to again fortify the roster with quality talent. Many drafts are loaded at the top end and fall off dramatically in the middle of the first round; not so this year. The talent in this year’s draft class and the Rams’ team needs match up very favorable with significant depth available at guard, safety and linebacker. Players high on the Rams’ wish list include Guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper, Linebacker Jarvis Jones, Safety Kenny Vaccaro and Tackle Lane Johnson. If one of the top wide receivers (Cordarrelle Patterson or Travon Austin) fall into the 20s, they might decide to go that route.
Teams To Keep An Eye On
Fisher and Snead did a great job with their first draft in St. Louis last year, turning the No. 2 pick into multiple choices. With two picks in this year’s first round and no real indication of any players that they are in love with, the Rams’ braintrust is likely to listen to offers from other teams wanting to move up for a player they like. If the deal isn’t to the Rams’ advantage, no move will be made and they will simply continue to make solid choices that make the team better.
With no significant rumors surrounding the Rams, the team is expected to stick with its two picks in the first round and select the best players available that also match team needs.
2012 – Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle (LSU), 14th pick (swap with Redskins)
2011 – Robert Quinn, Defensive End (North Carolina), 14th
2010 – Sam Bradford, Quarterback (Oklahoma), No. 1 overall
2009 – Jason Smith, Tackle (Baylor), 2nd
2008 – Chris Long, Defensive End (Virginia), 2nd