ST. LOUIS -- It came as no surprise when Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made their decisions to enter the 2014 NFL draft official in the past 48 hours.
But to know it for sure is good news for teams interested in upgrading at those key positions. It's also good news for a team like the St. Louis Rams, a franchise that may not be looking to upgrade in those two spots but just so happens to hold the key to ensuring you can get your hands on one of them.
Positioned with the second pick in this year's draft courtesy of the Washington Redskins, the Rams join Houston as the only teams certain to have a shot at one of Bridgewater or Clowney. In their respective Insider rankings, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. rank Clowney as the best player in this year's draft. Both like Bridgewater and rank him No. 8 and No. 10 overall, respectively.
But those rankings are just how McShay and Kiper see Bridgewater fitting in with the rest of the class from a talent standpoint, not where they are expected to go in the draft. Both analysts believe Bridgewater will go in the top two or three and is probably the best bet to go No. 1 overall to the Texans.
Clowney is a bit different because quarterbacks regularly get pushed up the board because of the importance of that position. Still, when all is said and done there's a strong chance the Clowney as best player in the draft narrative will return in the weeks ahead.
From a Rams' perspective, they appear set at end with Chris Long, Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Eugene Sims creating a formidable rotation that ranks with any in the league. At quarterback, the team insists that Sam Bradford is the present and the future and though they need to draft a signal-caller at some point, it's unlikely it would happen in the first round.
The Rams will at least do their diligence on both Clowney and Bridgewater. If they see either as a franchise-changing piece, they'd have to take a long look at pulling the trigger.
More likely, though, the Rams will look to continue to perpetuate the 2012 trade made with the Redskins by turning their lofty draft spot into more valuable picks. It's unlikely Bridgewater, Clowney or any other draft target would bring back a return similar to the one the Rams got for Robert Griffin III. That doesn't mean there won't be interest in the pick, however.
Plenty of teams need quarterbacks and many could use a dominant pass-rusher to slow down the teams that already have quarterbacks. The Rams believe they have both right now. That makes the combination of Bridgewater and Clowney at the top of this year's draft another potential boon for a team unafraid to make bold draft-day decisions.