EARTH CITY, Mo. -- What was shaping up to be a relatively uneventful Day 3 of the NFL draft quickly reversed course Saturday night when the St. Louis Rams made history by choosing Missouri defensive end Michael Sam with the 249th overall pick.
For obvious reasons, the team's choice of the first openly gay player to enter the league didn't allow for much time to recap what else the Rams did on the draft's final day. We'll have plenty of time to dive further into the Rams' picks from Rounds 4 through 7 throughout the next month or so, but for now let's take a quick look at each of the picks and how they might fit in St. Louis.
S Maurice Alexander, Utah State, 4th round -- Were it not for the addition of Sam, Alexander might have been the story of the day. The former Edward Jones Dome janitor will now make his living in a far more glamorous job in the same building. Known as a physical, aggressive type, Alexander should contribute on special teams right away with long-term starter potential. The question for him will be how he works in tandem with T.J. McDonald, a safety with a similar profile.
CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri, 6th round -- Known for his feisty, physical approach, Gaines had five interceptions in 2013. He has the versatility to play in the slot as well as outside on either side and might even have some upside as a potential safety. Will have to make his mark on special teams first and foremost but could have a chance to provide valuable depth at all three corner positions as the season and his career goes on.
QB Garrett Gilbert, SMU, 6th round -- The Rams took their time adding a quarterback but got one they believe has the upside to develop into a potential contributor. Gilbert was once one of the nation's top recruits coming out of high school, but after a failed stint at Texas he transferred to SMU. In his final two seasons there, Gilbert pieced together a pair of strong seasons. He'll compete for the No. 3 job behind starter Sam Bradford and backup Shaun Hill.
OT Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State, 7th round -- There's not a lot of information available on Van Dyk, but this much we know: he's got great size. Van Dyk said he's 6-foot-8, 315 pounds and Rams coach Jeff Fisher indicated his eventual upside could be as a legitimate NFL left tackle. The Rams should be pretty well set at tackle on the active roster with starters Jake Long and Joe Barksdale and projected starting guards Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold more than capable of stepping in there. Will be tough for Van Dyk to crack the roster but will get the chance to compete with players like Mike Person and Sean Hooey for a possible job.
S Christian Bryant, Ohio State, 7th round -- An ankle injury limited Bryant to five games in 2013, but he believes he would've been picked much higher had it not been for the missed time. A team captain for the Buckeyes, Bryant will join a crowded secondary that saw the Rams add four defensive backs in this draft alone. If he can help on special teams, he'll have a shot to win a roster spot.
DE Michael Sam, Missouri, 7th round -- The Rams are loaded at defensive end with the likes of Chris Long, Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Eugene Sims but it's not out of the question they could carry a fifth end. The team hasn't hesitated to carry more than the standard number of defensive linemen and actually had a fifth end on the roster for a large chunk of the 2013 season. Sam has pass-rush ability, but like most seventh-round picks he'll have to earn his way onto the roster using avenues beyond that, including special teams.
C Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee State, 7th round -- Armed with the type of versatility the Rams covet in offensive linemen, Rhaney played all over the line in his college career. But he settled in at center in 2013 and projects to compete there in St. Louis. While the Rams have Scott Wells as the likely starter, Barrett Jones and Tim Barnes are still mostly unproven as depth at the position. The competition will be tough but Rhaney should have an opportunity to battle Jones and Barnes for a role behind Wells.