Now that the NFL Draft has come and gone, it is time to revisit my predictions for what I believed the Rams would do in both Free Agency and the Draft. I wrote my Free Agent predictions right before Free Agency began back in March. I will go over that first.
Mark Barron – saves 7 million
Tavon Austin – saves 3 million
Both of these releases are expected and are likely to happen. Tavon Austin has been a disappointment and his contract was a joke from the get go. Mark Barron played well but he is undersized as an ILB and the Rams need to be bigger in the middle of the field.”
So I predicted that the Rams would release Mark Barron and Tavon Austin. Obviously I was wrong about both of these. I am still hitching my wagon to the Mark Barron will be released train. You just wait and see! Tavon Austin was also not released but he was restructured and traded so partial credit!
Prediction Grade: D-
“Rams Free Agents:
Connor Barwin: Initially I believed the Rams would move on from Connor Barwin as he did not play amazing and he is getting up there in age, but since the trade of Robert Quinn, I think they will want to keep one of their veteran edge rushers around for atleast one more year.
Prediction: 1 year – 3 million
Dominique Easley: Dominique Easley was slotted to be a starter next to Donald and Brockers in 2017 before he tore his ACL before the season. The Rams will be able to sign him really cheap and get a player with high upside and low risk.
Prediction 1 year – 1.5 million
Cody Davis: Davis is a special teams ace and proved he could provide adequate safety play if need be. The Rams are able to keep him for cheap which helps keep their special teams a strength and provides valuable depth at safety.
Prediction 2 years – 1.5 million per year
Nickell Robey-Coleman: One of the most under the radar signings of 2017, NRC is consistently one of the top nickel corners in the league and provided the Rams with good depth at the cornerback position when injuries struck. Resigning Coleman keeps the Rams secondary a strength.
Prediction 3 years – 3.5 million per year”
Here I predicted that the Rams would Resign Connor Barwin, Dominique Easley, Cody Davis, and Nickell Robey-Coleman. They did not sign Barwin or Cody Davis but they did resign the other two. That’s 50% right for me! I did not include Center John Sullivan or Long Snapper Jake McQuaide though so that takes me down a peg but all in all not too bad.
Prediction Grade: C
“Notable Rams Free Agents who were not resigned:
Trumaine Johnson: It was reported that the Rams were interested in resigning Johnson but his price tag proves to be too much for them.
Prediction: Signs with the Oakland Raiders
Sammy Watkins: This one is going to make a lot of Rams fans mad. Sammy Watkins is a great player but I think he will be demanding too much and the Rams will not be comfortable with it.
Prediction: Signs with the San Francisco 49ers
John Sullivan: I was torn on whether I think the Rams will resign John Sullivan or not. I ultimately decided they would not as I think they will try to slowly replace the older players on the oline over the next couple of years. This year they will draft a replacement for John Sullivan and next year they will focus on
replacing Andrew Whitworth.
Prediction: Signs 1 year deal somewhere or retires
Jake McQuaide: I love Jake McQuaide but long snapper just isn’t viewed as an important enough position to focus on. I can see the Rams signing him later on in free agency if he hasn’t been picked up but I ultimately think they will get an undrafted long snapper to replace him at a cheaper cost.
Prediction: Signs with New Orleans Saints”
This prediction was rather bold as I picked which players the Rams would not resigned and guessed who that player would sign with. I was correct on Trumaine Johnson and Sammy Watkins not resigning with the Rams but was incorrect with John Sullivan and Jake McQuaide. Again 50%! But what really hurts me is predicting where they end up. I did not predict one destination correct and for that I take a hit on my grade.
Prediction Grade: D
“Free Agent Signings:
Trent Murphy: Murphy was suspended for 4 games this last year for PED’s and is coming off a torn ACL, which will hurt him in Free Agency. He was drafted in the 2nd round in the 2014 NFL draft and in 2016 had a productive season with 8 sacks. He has familiarity with the Rams coaching staff which leads me to believe they will go after him. If he can stay clean he could come in and provide a solid addition on the edge.
Prediction: 1 year – 2.5 million
Jimmy Graham: This one is a complete shot in the dark but I can see this being a surprise signing for the Rams. Jimmy Graham was one of the best Tight Ends in the league when he was with New Orleans but when he was traded to Seattle his production took a hit. Sean McVay loves Tight End mismatches and gets a slam dunk with Jimmy Graham. The Rams may have lost Sammy Watkins but Graham can add another dimension to the offense that wasn’t really there last year. On top of that, the Rams get a player from a division rival which is always a plus.
Prediction: 4 years – 8 million per year
Aqib Talib: The Rams are planning on making their secondary the nastiest in the league by picking up Aqib Talib. He is familiar with Wade Phillips and can come in across from Marcus Peters and make the Rams Cornerbacks absolutely frightening. Talib isn’t the same player has he was 3 years ago but he is still a great corner that can hold that spot for a couple of years while young corners are groomed behind him.
Prediction: 2 years – 8 million per year
Avery Williamson: This will be one of the Rams’ biggest Free Agent signings. After they release Mark Barron they will replace him with Avery Williamson. Williamson will come in and be the best ILB on the team and will improve the run defense, which was a big weakness for the Rams last year.
Prediction: 4 years – 9 million per year “
The Free Agent Signings killed me. Trent Murphy, Jimmy Graham and Avery Williamson went off and signed with teams not called the Rams so Boo to them. I did get Aqib Talib correct but it was not a free agent acquisition as they got him in a trade but I am still going to partially count it dang it! I did not predict Ndamukong Suh, Ramik Wilson, or Sam Shields but in my defense nobody did.
Prediction Grade: F
Final Free Agent Prediction Grade: D+
Ok so my Free Agent predictions were not amazing, or even good. Don’t worry though, the draft will bail me out! Here are my predictions for the draft.
“They will make a total of 4 trades during the draft, one of which will include a future pick:
Les Snead has proven that he is not afraid to make deals. He is known for making trades on draft day and that will not change this year. I predict he will make a total of 4 trades throughout the draft to go up and grab his player and to move back and accumulate more picks. If a player falls into the late 2nd or early 3rd round that he covets, expect him to make a deal. He may even throw in a future 4th rounder in order to get the job done. “
The Rams did make a lot of trades, as expected, but they made a total of 6 trades not 4 and they did not trade a future pick. I was close on this one but I was a little too far off for my liking.
Prediction Grade: C
“They will trade Mark Barron:
Mark Barron has to go. The Rams are strapped for cash and still need to sign Aaron Donald. They have to sign Aaron Donald. He will not play for pennies this year. After looking through the roster, Mark Barron is really the only expendable piece. He is not a top ILB in the league and the Rams could save 7 million by trading him. They need that money and could replace him with a pick like Shaquem Griffin in the 4th, or someone like that. I could see the Rams bundle Barron and a 4th or sixth round pick in order to move into the third or earlier in the fourth. Either way, expect him to be gone by next week.”
This is the second time I have predicted the end of Mark Barron’s career as a Ram and the second time he has scorned me. He was not traded and is still with the team. I’m in too deep to back down now though. Mark my words he will be released before the start of the season. On another note they did trade Tavon Austin so that chapter is finally behind them.
Prediction Grade: F
“They will draft Tyrell Crosby if he falls into the middle of the 3rd Round:
The Rams have shown a lot of interest in Tyrell Crosby and if he is within striking distance of the Rams they will draft him. If he falls to them at 87th overall he will be the pick. They may even trade up a few spots if they are afraid another team covets him. I think that with Andrew Whitworth only having a couple of years left, they want his replacement to be on the team this year to learn from him.”
Again I made a prediction that was either right or wrong, no grey areas. Here I was wrong again. Tyrell Crosby was there but the Rams went with the Tackle Joseph Noteboom instead. Because they play the same position I am going to give myself a little credit, but not much.
Prediction Grade: D-
“If Tyrell Crosby is not there, then they will draft Ogbonnia Okoronkwo if he is there in the third:
Another player the Rams have shown a lot of interest in is Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Okoronkwo may fall into the 3rd but I highly doubt he would fall to the 4th. If Tyrell Crosby is off the board and Okoronkwo is still there for the Rams, this will be their pick. They will choose Crosby over him though if it came down to it.”
Both Crosby and Okoronkwo were there in the third and neither were taken. I also said that I highly doubt Okoronkwo would fall to the 4th round, the Rams got him in the 5th. So I was wrong about where he would be taken and how far he could fall but I was right that the Rams would take him. For that I am giving myself the highest grade yet!
Prediction Grade: C+
“The Rams will trade one of their 4th round picks to get a 5th round pick and another pick:
I believe the Rams have certain players that they covet that will fall into the 5th round. We all know that Snead loves 6th round picks so if the Rams can trade one of their late 4th round picks and get a 5th and 6th round pick in return they will do it. In fact I predict they will.”
Oh how good it feels to be correct! Ignore all of those bad grades you just saw and feast your eyes on the glory that is this prediction. I wasn’t just close on this one, I nailed it. The Rams traded their 4th round pick (136th overall) to the Panthers for their 5th round pick (147th overall) and their 6th round pick (197th overall).
Prediction Grade: A+
“The 3rd round pick will be an OT or OLB and in the 4th round the Rams will draft a RB and an Inside Linebacker:
The Rams’ 3rd round pick will be either an Offensive Tackle or an Outside Linebacker. Both of these positions are top of the list as far as need and the Rams can still get a solid contributor this year in the third round. In the 4th round they can still get a contributor at certain positions because of the players they currently have on their team. Todd Gurley is obviously the star RB on the team so when the Rams draft a RB in the 4th round he will not be expected to be play a huge role. He will still be a solid contributor though as he will relieve Gurley and most likely take on the Chris Thompson role for the Rams. The other position that will most certainly be drafted in the 4th is ILB. With the addition of Ndamukong Suh and the shut-down corners Talib and Peters, the ILB’s will not have too much on their plate, and with the trade of Mark Barron, the Rams need a new ILB. Thus they will draft one in the 4th. He does not have to play lights out do to all of the talent around him which will help him contribute this season.”
For my last prediction I said that the Rams would pick an OT or OLB in the 3rd round. This proved to be true with the selection of OT Joseph Noteboom. I also said that they would draft a RB and Inside Linebacker in the 4th round. I was wrong on both of these accounts as the Rams waited until round 5 to select an Inside Linebacker (Micah Kiser) and round 6 to select a Running Back (John Kelly). I wasn’t too far off with the Inside Linebacker pick but was pretty off with the Running Back which will hurt me.
Prediction Grade: C
Final Draft Prediction Grade: C+
So the draft went a little better then Free Agency but I still missed a lot! Obviously I have some work to do. My final prediction grade for the offseason is not good and honestly may be a little too high but this was my first year writing predictions so I gave myself a curve.
Final Overall Grade: C-