Stringing good drafts together is a key to success in the NFL and the St. Louis Rams appear to have mastered that art. Aided by the RGIII trade, they’ve seriously upgraded both their offense and defense the past two seasons. In such a massive haul have they also collected some unexpected surprises?
Offense – Stedman Bailey
Tavon Austin was the big prize of the NFL draft for the St. Louis Rams. Fans expect his blazing speed and agility to have all kinds of impact on an offense that has lacked explosion for a long time. So it was easy to miss that the team may have scooped up a teammate of Austin’s who is just as good in terms of production at the very least. Stedman Bailey was amazingly productive atWest Virginia(113 catches for 1,627 yards and 25 touchdown). He isn’t the athlete Austin is but his hands, physical running style and body control during routes makes him dangerous with the ball. If he gets a chance out on the field, it shouldn’t take long for him to start making plays for Sam Bradford.
Defense – Trumaine Johnson
Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins get most of the attention amongst a strong Rams secondary. This has overshadowed the promising future of Trumaine Johnson. He was selected in the 3rd round a year ago but many experts tagged him with 1st round talent. Despite limited opportunities last season he still compiled a respectable 31 tackles and two interceptions. His growing experience and big body make him an excellent choice for starting in the slot between Finnegan and Jenkins. There his lacking straight-line speed should go largely unnoticed and Jeff Fisher can use his other skills to great advantage. The question of course is can he stay out of trouble? He was arrested for DUI in March, this after some flagged him for his disorderly conduct charges back in college. In order to flourish, he must stay out of trouble.
Special Teams – Greg Zuerlein
With high expectations around the offense, that should raise the stakes for kicker Greg Zuerlein as well. After starting out so well in 2012 through the first five games, the man known as “Legatron” ran into some typical rookie struggles. He ended up go 23 for 31 and a 74% accuracy rating on his kicks. A better offense will only give him more chances, which means he must improve in 2013 and given his obvious talent and a coach like Jeff Fisher, that should come quickly. From there his booming power will give the St. Louis Rams an ability to score from almost anywhere inside the opponents’ 50-yard line.