Now that the draft order is set, we can begin to narrow down the candidates to go No. 1 overall. The one obvious candidate is Ndamukong Suh. He is the top rated player on my draft board and many others.
There’s no denying that Suh is an elite talent. Personally, I think he may be the top defensive prospect in 15+ years, perhaps since Dan Wilkinson was the No. 1 overall pick in 1994. But is Suh really a good fit in St. Louis?
Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan were their starting defensive tackles this season and the Rams have been pleased with both. Ryan is a restricted free agent, so it is possible that an opening could be created if he signs elsewhere. However, if Suh were not an option, it is likely the Rams would make every effort to re-sign Ryan.
The question Rams have to ask themselves is: is Suh such an elite prospect that he is worth selecting despite the fact that his position one of the few strong areas of their roster?
Another option would be move Carriker, Ryan or Suh to defensive end. Leonard Little is an unrestricted free agent and appears unlikely to return, creating a hole on the defensive line. Carriker would be the best option to move outside, since he played defensive end for the majority of his career at Nebraska. However, he’s bulked up to make the transition to defensive tackle and may no longer be capable of providing the pass rush that the Rams need on the outside.
The Rams recorded just 25 sacks this past season and desperately need someone capable of getting to the quarterback. As good as Chris Long is, he will never be a consistent 10+ sack guy. He is a run stopper, not a sack artist. Putting Carriker, Ryan or Suh opposite Long at defensive end would only further limit the Rams ability to pressure the quarterback.
What the Rams really need is a franchise quarterback. Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen are both options but few, if any, teams will have them higher than Suh on their draft board. Are the Rams willing to pass over higher rated players to reach for a position of need? General Manager Billy Devaney is only in his second year on the job so its too early to know how he’s likely to handle this situation.
The best case scenario for the Rams is to entice a team to trade up for Suh. The Bucs would appear to be the most likely candidate to make that move. If the Rams pass on Suh, the Lions will take him without even thinking twice, meaning the Bucs have zero chance of landing Suh in their current position. The Bucs would have to package this year’s 1st and 2nd-round picks at a minimum to move up two spots, but its possible that they will covet Suh enough to make that move.
Ultimately its too early to tell who the Rams will select, but it would be difficult to imagine a scenario where the to pick is someone other than Suh, Bradford or Clausen. Its likely that this is a rare year where we really don’t know who will go No. 1 until the day of the draft. The Rams should keep their phone lines open until the time on the clock runs out