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2014 NFL Draft: Rams get C+ for picking RB Tre Mason at No. 75

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Draft coverage: Draft picks and grades | Prospect Rankings | Mock drafts | News

NEW YORK -- With the 75th pick, the Rams select Auburn running back Tre Mason.

Running backs may not have quite the cachet they did a decade ago -- in 2005, three backs went in the first five picks -- but that doesn't mean they're not integral to today's offenses. Look no further than the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, who relied heavily on Marshawn Lynch during their run to the title.

That said, front offices have finally come to the realization that first-round talent can be found later in the draft and at a fraction of the cost. Put another way: running backs remain as talented as ever, but the ever-evolving NFL passing game has devalued you them. The emphasis now is on -- shocker -- a franchise quarterback, playmaking wideouts and tight ends, effective pass blockers, and then reasonably priced running backs.

Mason, who may have been the best player on the field in the BCS title game, is a 5-9, 207-pound spark plug whose game has drawn comparisons to Ray Rice (a 2008 second-rounder).

According to the NFLDraftScout.com scouting report, "Unlike many 'smallish' backs, the compactly-built Mason doesn't waste a lot of time dancing behind the line of scrimmage ... (he has) quick feet, and is a decisive, one-cut runner who attacks the hole, whether it comes as a running back or as a returner. Mason also shows vision in setting up blocks while on the move rather than attempting to make defenders miss with agility."

Mason, who rushed for 1,816 yards in 2013 may lack ideal size, but NFL backfields are littered with shortish runners who have had successful careers. He'll also join his former Auburn teammate, Greg Robinson, in St. Louis.

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