APC Mock Draft 2014: St. Louis Rams Select Jadeveon Clowney

USA TODAY Sports

With the second pick in the Acme Packing Company Mock Draft, the St. Louis Rams select defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from the University of South Carolina.

As we continue the Acme Packing Company mock draft, we land on the second overall pick owned by the St. Louis Rams.

Background

The 2013 St. Louis Rams finished 7-9 overall, good enough for fourth place in the NFC West. The Rams were plagued with injuries as quarterback Sam Bradford, cornerback Cortland Finnegan, tackle Jake Long, and center Scott Wells all spent time on the dreaded "Injured Reserve" list.

NFL journeyman Kellen Clemens took over in Week 8, and led the team to impressive victories at Indianapolis (38-8) and home against Chicago (42-21). The team found potential playmakers on offense with speedy wide out Tavon Austin and bruising running back Zac Stacy. The defense also developed a legit pass rush with young defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Quinn was selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl after recording a franchise record 18 sacks in his third year with the team.

The Rams cash in on their 2011 trade with the Washington Redskins for what amounted to Robert Griffin III and receive the the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 Draft, as well as their No. 13 overall pick in the first round. The Rams are in dire need of offensive line help with the recent injuries to Jake Long and Scott Wells, and could use another playmaker at wide receiver besides Tavon Austin. Some have even suggested that the team needs to move on from the Sam Bradford era and start fresh with the likes of Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel.

I personally think all of those options would be overdrafting at the No. 2 pick, and in the APC Mock Draft world that forbids trading picks of any kind, I have come to the final conclusion.

With the second pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams Select...

Jadeveon Clowney
Position: defensive end
School: South Carolina
Year: Junior

While I don't think that it is a forgone conclusion that Clowney will be a Hall of Famer at the NFL level, this type of athlete at 6-foot-5, 266 pounds with a 4.5 forty-yard dash time only comes around once in a decade. If the Texans are foolish enough to pass on Clowney, I have a hard time seeing the St. Louis Rams overdrafting a tackle instead of selecting arguably the most-gifted athlete in this draft class.

A defensive front of Robert Quinn, Chris Long, and Jadeveon Clowney would give the Rams a pass rush that would rival NFC West foes San Francisco and Seattle, and would help hide any deficiencies in the defensive secondary. They could practically put Tavon Austin back at punt return depth to go out and catch the desperation flutter passes that quarterbacks throw up before getting hit like this.

Many scouts have attached "work ethic" issues, and other random scouting buzzwords like "low motor" and "takes plays off" to Clowney. No one knows what will happen when he gets his first NFL paycheck, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives with the junior defensive end out of South Carolina.

Clowney had a down year in 2013, with only 40 tackles and 3 sacks, but many forget that he was battling numerous injuries before the season even began. Clowney has sustained rib, foot, and groin injuries in his college and high school career, and that may have slowed him down last season.

I believe the 2012 version of Jadeveon Clowney will be the one that shows up in the NFL. In that season, Clowney recorded 54 tackles (including 23 for a loss) 13 sacks, and forced three fumbles. Clowney also recorded 8 sacks in his freshman campaign with South Carolina.

If the St. Louis Rams were to draft Jadeveon Clowney, it would not be to fill a position of need, but it would be selecting the best available talent at a draft position where you simply can't overdraft just because you need help elsewhere.

Other Options

I also wouldn't be shocked if the Rams elect to trade with the Atlanta Falcons for their picks (No. 6, and No. 37), draft wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Clemson) at No. 6 and either offensive tackles Greg Robinson (Auburn) or Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) at No. 13 to appropriately fill their needs on offense.

If the organization decides to end the Sam Bradford era, I fully expect the Rams to select either Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel with the No. 2 pick, but all indications are that the team is moving forward with their former No. 1 overall pick under center.

We will be back tomorrow morning with the third pick in the draft as the Jacksonville Jaguars are now on the clock.

Mock Draft Round One Summary

Pick Team Player Position School
1 Houston Texans Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
2 St. Louis Rams Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina

Josh VanDyke covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He is also currently a sports writer for MLive.com.
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