Featured Blogger: David Frissell from Redbird Rants
In the weeks leading up to draft day, every fan has their teams draft strategy planned out. What positions are needed, who they like at those positions, and their sleepers. So that is exactly what I am going to do. The St. Louis Rams are in desperate need of some key positions. Of course, most teams coming off of a 2-14 season are. Some of the glaring needs for this football team are:
Offensive line. (departure of Big O, Orlando Pace) The future Hall of Famer was the cornerstone of the franchise for their excellent run in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Their pursuit of a Superbowl Championship started when they chose the Ohio State Buckeye #1 overall in 1997. Outside of Pace, the line has been shaky at best. Alex “false-start” Barron, Richie “personal foul” Incognito, & Jacob “Bust” Bell are just some of the characters left behind to protect Marc Bulger with the exit of Pace. As everyone knows, the Rams have the 2nd pick, and with Detroit rumored to select Matthew Stafford out of Georgia, it appears that the brain trust of the Rams are on the proverbial clock. Everyone’s clear cut choice is Jason Smith out of Baylor. The 6-5, 309lb doesn’t quite have the frame of Orlando Pace, but has excellent footwork. He has impressed at the combine and has climbed draft boards everywhere as other early front-runners like Andre Smith have fallen. This is where the Rams have to go. It has been no secret that success in the NFL starts up front. The Rams have been pathetic the last three years and fans, players, and radio hosts have blamed coaching, terrible quarterback play, and the lack of rap music played at the Edward Jones Dome for their lack of success. It is tough for the coach to win if his quarterback doesn’t have any confidence.. It’s tough for the quarterback to develop confidence, if he spends most Sundays getting slammed into the turf during every offensive play. And as far as more rap music at the dome…bring your ipod Steven Jackson. It is no coincidence that Orlando Pace was hurt for the majority of the last 3 years and that is what attributed to the demise of “The Greatest Show on Turf”. If Billy Devaney and crew are going to rebuild this team, O-line is where to start and Jason Smith is the pick.
Wide Receiver. Barring any trades, the 3rd pick in the second round is the next pick for the Rams. Wide Receiver is another key position that has been left vacant by a perennial all-pro. Torry Holt was given his walking papers and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This leaves the Rams receiving corp as thin as my hair line. There are going to be some big time receivers available at this point in the draft. Hakeem Nicks, out of North Carolina, came on late last season to emerge as one of the top receivers of the 2009 class. Hakeem has good size (6-1, 215lbs), great hands and good enough speed (4.5/40). Brian Robiskie, out of Ohio State, also has great size (6’3″ 210lbs) and probably the best hands in the draft. Either one of these two would make immediate impacts and would please Rams fans as their second round selection. However, in the hours leading up to the draft, several developments at the wide receiver position have emerged. Percy Harvin apparently tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine, causing him to slide on mock drafts everywhere. Early on, Harvin and his 4.3/40 speed, had him as a top 15 pick. However, these latest developments have him slipping into the 2nd round. The Arizona Cardinals reportedly have lowered their trade demands for disgruntled wide out Anquan Boldin. I am not sure if an early 2nd round pick will get that deal done, but #81 would look great to Rams fans wearing the blue and gold. Nicks, Robiskie, and Harvin (minus the character issues) all seem like can’t miss prospects but, so was Tony Mandrich. If wide out is where they pick in the 2nd round and all three are available, Nicks is the pick. He is faster than Robiskie, has better hands than Harvin, and is an upstanding citizen without any character concerns. The most upside here is Harvin, but he also brings a lot of risk, and with Roger Goodell handing out suspensions like Halloween candy, the safer pick is the way to go.
Linebacker. This is another huge need for the Rams, but at this point in the draft, many teams have gone in different directions and it becomes very difficult to predict who will be available after 65-70 picks by 32 teams. That being said, there are some guys on a fan’s wish list that could be available. With a glaring need to stop the run, getting a stud inside backer with the 2nd pick in the 3rd round would definitely help. Darry Beckwith is someone who could still be available and can make an immediate impact on the defense. Beckwith won a National Championship with LSU and was Butkus Award finalists, given to the nation’s top linebacker.
Remaining Picks. With picks left in each of the 7 rounds, the Rams should stay on the defensive side of the ball. They need to bring in guys that can compete on the defensive line and in the secondary.
There are many possibilities when you have the #2 overall pick. There may be some trade partners that come available on draft day, and those shouldn’t be ignored by the Rams. But if they stand pat, and take Jason Smith, the Rams under new coach Steve Spagnuolo, will have someone they can build an offense behind going forward. As always there will be plenty of drama, let’s just hope the Rams don’t continue with the draft blunders that has ruined this franchise. With Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo pulling the trigger, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.