Rams willing to trade second overall pick in NFL Draft

12/31/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Back in 2012, general manager Les Snead got his St. Louis Rams a huge haul of draft picks by trading his team's second overall pick - essentially the right to draft Robert Griffin III - to the Washington Redskins. One of the many picks that the Rams received in that trade was the Redskins' 2014 first-round pick, and thanks to a horribly disappointing season in Washington, that pick will be second overall in this year's draft.

As a result, the Rams find themselves in a similar position to the one they were in two years ago. Of course, there is no RG3-caliber player in this draft that teams will be willing to trade away their entire futures for. There is, however, a dynamic pass rusher with a freakish combination of size and athleticism - South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.

Nov 16, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) leaves the field following their 19-14 win over the Florida Gators at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY SportsScouts Inc. rates Clowney as the best player in the entire draft, tied with UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr. ESPN's Mel Kiper also has Clowney at the top of his Big Board, and has said he is the best defensive end prospect since Bruce Smith, who is the NFL's all-time leader in sacks.

With the NFL becoming more and more pass-happy, a pass rusher like Clowney is an incredible asset to any team, particularly one who lacks a pass rush. With the Houston Texans appearing likely to take a quarterback with the first pick of the draft, Clowney should fall to the Rams at No. 2, but the Rams already have a fantastic defensive end duo of Robert Quinn and Chris Long, who combined for 27.5 sacks in 2013.

Even if Clowney were to be selected first overall, that would probably leave Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the hottest available commodity, and the Rams have insisted that they are committed to their quarterback, Sam Bradford.

Snead remembers all the draft picks that he got for trading away the rights to draft RG3, and he has expressed an interest in giving up the second overall pick for the second time in three years. "There are going to be some teams that want to pick a quarterback," Snead said. "And that could increase the value of our pick. I have told people I'm not sure how to draft without multiple first-round picks, so I'm always going to be interested when it comes to making sure I can continue to do that." Reports have added that the Snead has "made it clear" that the team is "open for business" in regards to shopping their second overall pick.

There are several teams that would be interested in moving up a little bit to get into that No. 2 slot. The first team that comes to mind is the Atlanta Falcons (currently at sixth overall), who would likely have to jump teams like the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars to land Clowney. After letting John Abraham walk as a free agent last offseason, the Falcons plummeted to 29th in the NFL in sacks with 32, just one more than the league-worst of 31. The Falcons need a pass rusher badly, and general manager Thomas Dimitroff has shown aggressiveness in the past (i.e. trading up to land Julio Jones in 2011). Clowney fits the Falcons' 4-3 defense better than the other top-tier pass rushing prospects, such as Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack.

Another team that could be willing to trade up for Clowney is the Minnesota Vikings, who currently have the eighth overall pick. The Vikings gave up more points than anyone in the NFL in 2013, and even though they ranked 13th in sacks, Clowney is still a player who can turn around a defense. In addition, the Vikings' 2013 sack leader, Jared Allen, is a free agent and appears likely to sign with a new team this offseason.

If the Rams want an additional first-round pick, however, they will probably have to trade with a team outside of the top-10. A team like the Falcons or Vikings moving up would likely net the Rams an additional second-round pick, not a first. Teams that could be interested in giving up this year's and next year's first-round picks to move up and draft Clowney include the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bears are likely to release Julius Peppers this offseason, leaving a hole at defensive end. In addition, their defense was historically bad in 2013, and Clowney could help them improve all facets of the unit.

The Cowboys struggled in their transition to a 4-3 defense this season, and franchise-tagged defensive end Anthony Spencer has been experiencing chronic knee issues and is unlikely to be re-signed. Monte Kiffin's defense was at it's best in Tampa Bay when Simeon Rice was wreaking havoc off the edge, and Clowney has a similar build and skill set to Rice. Current Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware is about 20 pounds smaller than Rice was during his playing days.

Finally, we have the Bengals, who wracked up plenty of sacks in 2013, but may let starting defensive end Michael Johnson find a new team in free agency.

We then have all the teams who would be willing to trade up for a quarterback. These teams include the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, and Arizona Cardinals.

Plenty of teams will be interested in the Rams' second overall pick, as the talent level at that spot will be enormous, particularly if Clowney is not selected with the first pick. With the Rams having their quarterback and defensive end roles filled, they seem very willing to make a deal to pick up some extra picks and move down once again. Considering the players who will be available at No. 2, as well as the Rams' personnel, it would not be at all surprising to see a team move up for a cornerstone player.
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