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Draft Class, Free Agent Additions Spell Heavy Competition

Posted May 12, 2014

Following the addition of 15 undrafted free agents, the 2014 St. Louis Rams rookie class runs 26 players deep.

With the signings of 15 undrafted free agents announced on Monday, the dust of the 2014 draft season has finally begun to settle at Rams Park.

The lasting image that remains is one of heavy competition that will face the 26 players who have been added through the draft and free agency since Thursday.

VIDEO: #RamsDraft Day 3 Recap

While it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to envision an early impact from players such as offensive lineman Greg Robinson, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, many other selections represent key additions of depth, and figure to have their work cut out for them come training camp in July.

The Rams entered the draft thin at both the corner and safety positions, but emphatically addressed that area of need by adding four defensive backs through the draft and another three as free agents. Those seven will battle for time with incumbents Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee, Rodney McLeod and Cody Davis.

Among the more intriguing additions at that position is cornerback Marcus Roberson, who missed significant time to injury during his junior year at the University of Florida, but was productive with a pair of interceptions and 14 passes defended in 13 games as a sophomore with the Gators.

The Rams similarly built depth at quarterback, offensive line and defensive line, with upgrades at the latter position representing building from a position of strength. The resulting roster competition will represent the culmination of what has been a steady adherence to an organizational philosophy applied by Head Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead.

Since taking over in 2012, Fisher and Snead have dedicated a holistic approach to building their roster. The Rams concluded last season with only six total starters—three on each side of the ball—who held the same position just two years previously. As a result of building their roster primarily through the draft, the Rams have employed the league’s youngest team through the past two seasons, and are likely on their way to a three-peat in that category.

The result of a roster built heavily on youth early on has begun to yield its value, as the Rams saw steady progress from each of the last two draft classes during the 2013 season.
Last year’s draft selections made significant contributions, with the greatest value provided by fifth-rounder Zac Stacy, who spent 12 weeks as the Rams’ feature back.

Receiving the same rate of production from this year’s group will represent a tall task for the class of 2014, given both the development of the past two classes and the quality and sheer volume of this year’s group.

As pleased as General Manager Les Snead was following the completion of his most recent draft, he was quick to acknowledge that the greatest challenges remain ahead.

“Now is when all of us and the coaching staff and support staff, we’ve got to get together and spend energy making those decisions a success,” Snead said. “I always say this: the work starts now, because these kids, they have ability and we picked them and we’re glad they’re here. Now it’s up to the organization to make them successful.”

If past results are a reliable indicator of future outcomes, the future appears bright for the Rams’ third draft class under Snead and Fisher, even if cracking the final 53-man roster has never been more challenging.