ST. LOUIS --Three of the league's top seven scoring defenses in 2013 resided in the NFC West. Seattle was No. 1, San Francisco was No. 3 and Arizona was No. 7.
And then there were the St. Louis Rams, who finished a respectable 13th in the league in points allowed but finished fourth in the division in terms of record and defense. That isn't preventing some NFL analysts from looking at the Rams' defensive foundation and seeing a group capable of unseating the Seahawks on the NFL's defensive throne.
In fact, over at NFL.com, Gil Brandt named the Rams his "defense on the rise," just behind five other defenses capable of becoming the next dominant group in the NFL.
Brandt writes that the Rams have "two thirds" of the needed parts to become an elite defense, citing the strength of the front seven but acknowledging the need for help on the back end. There's no doubt about that. The Rams' greatest needs defensively this offseason include a rangy free safety type and potentially even another starting caliber cornerback. An outside linebacker to complement Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitis would also make sense.
Of course, another reason for Brandt's optimism as it comes to the Rams defense is the pending addition of Gregg Williams as the defensive coordinator. Brandt writes that Williams should help take the defense to the next level.
That's an opinion shared elsewhere. SI.com's Don Banks called Williams the best coordinator hire of the offseason.
I'm inclined to agree with both takes as the Rams have been building toward a dominant defense since the arrival of coach Jeff Fisher. Many of the pieces are in place. Now, they need to add the final touches and let Williams mold it all together to maximize an extremely talented young group on a consistent basis.
A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we took a look at the latest round of rumors and speculation concerning the Rams and Los Angeles. ... Next, it was my column on why the time has come for the Rams to stop spending big in free agency and keep developing their young players. ... From there, we continued our series on possible future Hall of Fame Rams with a look at receiver Isaac Bruce. ... Finally, we offered some thoughts and reaction to the mock drafts of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.
Speaking of the mock drafts (both links are ESPN Insider content):
Here's Kiper's latest offering.
Here's McShay's updated picks.
SI.com has its own updated mock draft following a similar blueprint as the Kiper/McShay takes.
NFL.com's Adam Schein ranks the Rams No. 8 as one of the most interesting teams to watch this offseason.