St.Louis Rams Draft Grade and Free Agency Review

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April 27, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams first round draft pick Michael Brockers speaks to the media at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Throughout May NFLmocks will be starting out coverage for the 2013 NFL Draft, but we’ll also be breaking down the entire 2012 off-season for each team. Reviewing the free agency the team had, grading the draft, and taking a very early projection at the teams 53 man rosters. Yesterday Sayre took a look at the Colts free agency and today I’ll be looking at the Rams.

The St. Louis Rams Draft recap:

  • Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
  • Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
  • Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
  • Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
  • Trumaine Johnson, DB, Montana
  • Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest
  • Rokevious Watkins, OG, South Carolina
  • Greg Zuerlein, K, Missouri Western
  • Aaron Brown, LB, Hawaii
  • Daryl Richardson, RB, Abelene Christian

Un-drafted Free Agents

The Rams went a little nuts with un-drafted free agents.

Eastern Kentucky CB Jeremy Caldwell; Virginia DL Matt Conrath; Duke S Matt Daniels; LSU OL Bob Hebert; Oregon State P Johnny Hekker; Ohio LB Noah Keller; LSU TE DeAngelo Peterson; Texas Tech DE Scott Smith; UNLV S Quinton Porter; Henderson State WR Nick Johnson; Syracuse OT Michael Hay; Duke S Matt Daniels; UCLA TE Cory Harkey; Southern Mississippi QB Austin Davis; Wayne State OT Joe Long; Houston LB Sammy Ford; Washington State LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis; Virginia S Rodney McLeod; Massachusetts LS Travis Tripucka; Michigan State FB Todd Anderson; Stephen F. Austin LB Derrick Choice; Jacksonville State RB Calvin Middleton

The four players I bolded are the players I think have the best chance to make a N.F.L. team. Austin Davis was one of my favorite late round quarterback prospect types. Davis broke a lot of Brett Favre’s quarterbacking records at Southern Mississippi. He’s accurate, fairly mobile, has enough size, and enough arm. He just doesn’t “wow” enough to get drafted. Davis could be a guy who hangs around at the back end of a roster or on the practice squad for a year or two before being relied on as a the backup.

Corey Harkey has a skill set–he can block very very well. Maybe the best blocking tight end in the draft. When we’re talking about late round guys and undrafted free agents we’re looking for a skill set that is exceptional–that’s Harkey. DeAngelo Patterson and Alex Hoffman Ellis are two guys I thought would get drafted and both also play positions where the talent for the Rams is questionable.

Grading the Draft:

Rams trade #2 pick to the Washington Redskins for #6 pick for 2 extra first rounds and an 2012 second round, and then trade #6 pick to the Dallas Cowboys for another second round pick.

In the first round the Rams selected Michael Brockers the DT out of LSU. I like this pick. The Rams really needed to improve their run defense and the talent along their defensive front seven. The Rams best Defensive tackle last year might have been Fred Robbins who was old two years ago, though he has now been cut.  Brockers went to a team that has a coach that got the most out of Albert Haynesworth–and Brockers doesn’t have the same attitude or motor issues. Brockers should be a good player in two years. A+++ pick. Think about this they started with the second pick overall-which they turned into two extra first round picks and two extra second round picks that’s the kind of move that helped the Cowboys dominated the 1990’s.

The Rams selected three players in the second round-Brian Quick the Appalachin State Wide Receiver, Janoris Jenkins the North Alabama cornerback, and Isaiah Pead the Cincinnati Bearcats running back.

I could break this round into three categories: Love, like, meh

Love-Janoris Jenkins pick here. The Rams have an abundance of early round picks over the next couple of drafts, if one team is going to take a chance on a guy who loves football, but makes questionable decisions off the field it should be the Rams. This is not a motor or talent problem with Jenkins. Is it–will he get suspended problem. Or will he be able to handle his money problem. The Rams can afford a miss on Jenkins, and his upside is tremendous-fills a huge need for them as well. A

I like the Isaiah Pead pick. Pead is another guy who had a few issues, mostly on the field but is a good talent. He’s the perfect compliment to Steve Jackson. What you love about Pead is how he can create his own yardage. If Pead gets into the second level he immediately becomes troube, very agile and quick. Productive too. Good solid pick. B+

Brian Quick is a 2nd round player and has as much upside as Stephen Hill, but I don’t think he’s as good as Jeffery or Randle. WR was a huge need for the Rams. Would they have been better going Kendall Wright/Jerel Worthy? B-

The third round the Rams went back to the secondary with the pick of the talented Trumaine Johnson. Johnson is a big cornerback who might have to play Safety in the National Football league. Regardless, last year the Rams had no talent at cornerback and this year they have Finnegan, Jenkins, and Johnson. B- pick. I have two issues with the pick. I’m always worried about guys who are cornerbacks but might have to convert as safeties for that reason Johnson wasn’t a top 2 round lock for me. Second, Johnson also had the dreaded “character concerns” label attached to him. That’s three players in a row the Rams have drafted with questionable character. Bypassing the offensive line here is risky as well. B- (which is not a knock  to me. A B- is about an average pick)

Update: I did not notice that Jeff Fisher’s son was in the Montana program, which makes the pick better for me. The Titans would have had plenty of first hand knowledge on Johnson’s dedication to the game of football.

Chris Givens-Givens was a top 80 player on my board and getting him with the 96th pick is good value. Givens is also a player that is the opposite of Quick to give the passing offense some versatility. Givens will rack up the yards after the catch in the N.F.L. and should excel in the slot, but also be a guy who can play outside some. Bradford won’t have as many issues at the WR position anymore. A

In round five the Rams grabbed a massive OL with South Carolina’s Rokevious Watkins. Watkins is a massive guy who will go and play guard. Jeff Fisher loves to run the football if history is any true indicator and Watkins can definitely help in that area. Unlike the last few picks Watkins is considered a high character guy. B-

Greg Zuerlein K Missouri Western

Huh? What? I didn’t watch him play, but I heard a lot of good things. Big, huge leg and accurate. He went 9/9 from 50+ plus last year. Incomplete. All kickers in the National Football League kick really well in college. The Rams have to project how Zuerlein will kick when the spotlight is on him and he’s trying to put it through the uprights 44 yards away with 1 minute left in the game and the Rams down by 2 and.

Round six the Rams selected Aaron Brown LB Hawaii. The Rams needed more talent at the linebacker position. The book on Brown is that he’s going to excel on special teams and provide valuable depth. Good character guy with plus instincts.  B+. I’m a fan of getting players late who can really excel on special teams.

The final pick of the Rams draft had them selecting Daryl Richardson the Running back out of Albeine Christian. I had a host of running back rated higher than Richardson, but the Rams saw something they liked about him. B-. I’m not going to knock any late round picks, really. They need more depth at running back too–but there were other running backs I preferred.

Overall A/A+

I think it’s being over looked far too often how much this draft pick could set up the Rams to be a Superbowl contender for the next five years. The Rams will have three two extra first round picks over the next few years as well as having three second round picks this year. That means in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 draft classes the Rams have at least 10 picks in the first two rounds of the draft. That should be 10 starting players and a couple of potential pro bowl impact caliber players in a three year span. It doesn’t hurt that they got some really terrific players in this draft class.

Terrific job by the Rams, though I think they could have done better in the second round.

Continued on the next page (offseason moves, current “depth chart” and final thoughts)

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