Friday, January 25, 2013
Safety choices for St. Louis
By Tim Kavanagh
The St. Louis Rams got themselves a fine defensive coordinator this week in Rob Ryan, and now they can focus on their on-field personnel in the weeks and months ahead. One area where they may make an investment this offseason is at safety.
Of their two starters from 2012, Craig Dahl is an impending unrestricted free agent and Quintin Mikell is set to make $6 million next season (and possibly be a cap casualty as a result), so they may have two vacancies in the defensive backfield to fill. On the bright side, there is a high supply of soon-to-be free agents at the position, provided their respective incumbent teams don't re-sign or franchise them. The list includes Buffalo's Jairus Byrd, San Francisco's Dashon Goldson, Atlanta's William Moore, Detroit's Louis Delmas and Baltimore's Ed Reed.
As for the draft prospects, there are a number of tantalizing options as well, led by Texas' Kenny Vaccaro. "He's a ball-hawking safety that can come up and hit and tackle," NFL draft analyst Russ Lande noted of the Longhorn, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He's the real deal. I wouldn't be shocked if Detroit -- if there's no elite pass-rusher there -- Detroit at No. 5 [overall] may take him. He's really good."
If St. Louis is interested in Vaccaro, they should hope that the opening night of the draft plays out like Mel Kiper Jr. had it in his initial mock draft, with Vaccaro sliding to them at No. 16:
Mel Kiper Jr.Mock Draft 1.0
"The Rams have used the draft and free agency to strengthen the defense almost everywhere over the past couple of years. They made big strides at corner last offseason with the additions of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, and the pass rush is in place with the emerging Robert Quinn and steady Chris Long. Getting the best safety in the draft, a player who can both cover and step up against the run, will be one of those finishing touches."