The St. Louis Rams recently announced that they have signed each of the team’s seven draft picks to contracts. The organization’s most recent rookie class now has its first OTA complete and each has inked his first professional contract.
Now it is time for this group of rookies to focus on football as we inch closer to the 2013 season. But what should we expect out of the Rams rookies in 2013? How big of an impact will each rookie have?
Here are some predictions on the impact each rookie will have on the Rams in 2013.
Austin was drafted to be a play-making home run threat and the Rams will likely do everything within their power to put the explosive star in positions to make big plays. The Rams will likely use Austin in the slot, out wide, in the backfield and in the return game. He will be given every opportunity to make plays.
Expect Austin to hit a few home runs. He should create at least four opportunities for the roof of the Edward Jones Dome to explode, but do not expect him to be a Pro Bowler and in fact there will likely be games where Austin could be very quiet as defense will key on shutting him down.
Overall though, Austin will make plenty of noise.
Season predictions: 44 receptions, 670 yards, 7 touchdowns, 258 rushing yards, one punt return for TD
Ogletree comes to the Rams with big expectations as the Rams were able to snag him late in the first round after trading back. Ogletree is slotted as a starter next to middle linebacker James Lauranaitis and many believe he will produce at a high level.
Look for Ogletree to quickly become a staple on the Rams defense. His athleticism will pay dividends against the athletic quarterbacks in San Francisco and Seattle. Ogletree will also be vital in stopping 49ers’ running back LaMichael James, who will be a big part of the San Francisco attack this season.
Ogletree should be a leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He will get every chance to make plays and be on the field and if he pans out, the Rams defense could be scary good.
Season predictions: 5 sacks and 1 interception, team’s second leading tackler
The Rams waited until the third round to pick a safety and came away with McDonald out of USC. McDonald certainly is big and fast enough to play in the NFL, but how long will it take for him to pick up the speed of the NFL game?
McDonald will have some big moments this season with crushing hits over the middle and could get involved in some safety blitzes, but he also may have moments where he gets exposed, as most rookie defensive backs do.
Look for there to be a learning curve here with McDonald on the job, but not too the point where it will hurt Jeff Fisher’s defense too much.
Season predictions: 3 sacks and 1 interception
Bailey was Austin’s teammate during college at West Virginia and was taken several picks after Austin, but could have as much of an impact on the Rams in 2013 as Austin, and maybe more.
Bailey does not have the raw play-making ability that Austin possesses, but he can fly too. Bailey will mainly only be used at wide receiver and depending on how things play-out at the position, he could see substantial playing time and end up as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver.
Look for Bailey to have more receptions than Austin, but less yards as he very likely should be a big part of the Rams offense in 2013.
Season predictions: 58 receptions, 611 yards, 4 touchdowns
Jones comes to the Rams with a winning pedigree and tons of flexibility. He can play all five line positions and is likely considered the Rams “center of the future”.
For now, expect Jones to be the top back-up at center and both guard positions and should be able to seamlessly step-in and reinforce the middle of the line if injury happens. Jones likely will get a chance to step-in right off the bat as Rock Watkins sits out Game 1 with a suspension.
Season predictions: 3 starts, valuable offensive line reserve
With the corner back solidified by Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, McGee may not see much playing time on the Rams defense, barring injury. But he should be a valuable asset as a fourth corner and the 4.40 40-yard dash speed he displayed at the NFL Combine should make him an option as a gunner on special teams.
Stacy may be the steal of the entire draft. Or, he could turn into the typical fifth round pick that does not contribute at all.
But one year after seeing late-round pick Alford Morris excel, many Rams fans are hoping that Stacy can duplicate that performance, especially since Steven Jackson is not around to carry the rock and the Rams need a solid No. 1 running back.
Look for Stacy to have a time-share with Daryl Richardson in the Rams back-field and he likely, because of his physicality, will get a majority of the goal-line touches.
Season predictions: 440 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns
Overall: For the second consecutive season, it looks very likely that the Rams have put together a very productive rookie class. Austin will be a scary play-maker, Ogletree could be a Pro Bowler down the road and Bailey could make for a solid No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL for years to come.
- St. Louis Rams: 5 reasons the Rams should run a spread offense in 2013 (stlsportsminute.com)
- St. Louis Rams: Cortland Finnegan rips Craig Dahl (stlsportsminute.com)
- St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin compares himself to Percy Harvin (stlsportsminute.com)