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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    Burwell: Rams need to upgrade everywhere

    BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    With only nine days left before the draft, the St. Louis Rams have already done their part to inject a little added excitement into the proceedings. Last month’s blockbuster deal with the Washington Redskins showed that the new Rams regime certainly has the guts to be audacious.

    Now with more mad trade speculation swirling in the air, we’re about to discover if the new folks running things at Rams Park have the nerve to either keep wheeling and dealing or the patience to sit tight on their sudden bounty of extra draft picks.

    Better yet, let’s hope that head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead show us that they have the good judgment to recognize the subtle differences between the two very tempting opportunities.

    Anyone who follows the NFL draft closely knows that the greatest gossip, most outlandish subterfuge and even the occasional sliver of truth comes spilling out over the crazy course of the final two weeks leading up to the draft. So now we’re inside of 10 days, and for every 100 half-truths and outright lies that pile up like trash in an alley, one surprising bit of honesty comes peeking out of the rubble. You just have to figure out the difference between what could happen, what should happen and what better not happen.

    The Rams are certainly making it interesting for us. Ever since they swung the deal that shipped off the No. 2 overall pick to DC for first-round picks in 2012, ’13 and ’14, plus an extra second-rounder this year, the Rams have been playing up the notion that they are still open for business on the trade front. In case you haven’t heard the latest dish, this is the up-to-the-minute report on what the Rams will do before next Thursday night’s first round begins: They are trying to swing a trade with Cleveland to go up to No. 4; they will stay put at the sixth pick; they will draft a wide receiver, or they will select a running back, or maybe a defensive back, defensive lineman or offensive lineman no matter where they pick.

    Or they may orchestrate another trade, moving down again in the first round to pick up a few extra picks to add to their already impressive pile.

    And oh, yeah, they also might or they might not trade Steven Jackson.

    That pretty much covers all the possibilities, doesn’t it?

    And that is why this year’s draft is loaded with so much intrigue for Rams fans, because they can actually imagine the possibilities if this is the year that the organization finally gets it right. If Fisher and Snead don’t make another trade and just sit tight with the sixth, 33rd and 39th picks — or if they trade down to add another pick or two in the first and second rounds — this could be the sort of draft that Jimmy Johnson had in 1989 when he made the first critical moves that turned the Dallas Cowboys into the dynasty of the 1990s.

    Sitting tight or trading down means going for quantity. It means drafting three or four instant starters and foundation pieces for the franchise. It means finding at least one potential Pro Bowl-caliber player with that No. 6 pick (just do the math and you’ll understand that regardless of what Minnesota, Cleveland and Tampa Bay do at 3, 4 or 5, there will be a player with a “can’t-miss” grade waiting for the Rams at that sixth pick.

    The benefit of sitting tight at No. 6 means that regardless of how the drafting goes ahead of them, the Rams will be looking at one of the following rookies: offensive tackle Matt Kalil, running back Trent Richardson, wide receiver Justin Blackmon, defensive back Morris Claiborne or defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

    So even though we all know the Rams’ most pressing need is a game-breaking wide receiver like Blackmon, if he isn’t there, it’s not exactly the end of the world. Need I remind you that last year the Rams were 2-14?

    When you are 2-14, that means you are a bad team with a lot of holes to fill up and down the roster. You don’t have time to fret over “need” because “talent” has to be the primary objective. And Fisher clearly agrees, since he told our own Jim Thomas recently, “I don’t think we can pass on any position at that pick because of our need.”

    I hope Blackmon is still sitting there that Thursday night. But I will not have a conniption if he isn’t. It would be nice if the Rams could work out a deal to leap up to Cleveland’s No. 4 spot to get Blackmon, but not at the expense of building the roster up across the board.

    The Rams are not one player away from becoming a contender. If they were, and that one player was a great receiver, I would mortgage an extra second-round pick to get Blackmon. But not now, not when they have holes wherever you look. They need offensive linemen. They need interior defensive linemen. They need cornerbacks. They need backup running backs. They need linebackers. They need a backup quarterback.

    You want to know how desperate the Rams are for upgrading their talent? Right now they are waiting for Cincinnati Bengals free-agent receiver Jerome Simpson to finish a 15-day jail sentence on drug charges — and deal with the inevitable four-game NFL suspension he’ll face for violating the league’s good conduct rules — so that they can sign him to beef up the passing game.

    Fisher has looked at the tapes from last season’s 2-14 debacle and knows what we already know.

    The Rams need to upgrade everywhere.

    So this makes for a rather liberating sensation for Fisher and Snead. Everything is in play and no matter what they do, it will make sense to most practical people.

    If they continue down the bold path they began in March with the Washington trade, finding another willing partner who’s desperate (or foolish) enough to part with multiple picks to get up to No. 6 for the opportunity to draft, say, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, you’ll hear no complaints here.

    If they are content to hold on to what they have, there’s nothing wrong with having three of the first 39 picks in the draft, either.

    I just want to see the new Rams regime alter the course of past draft-day disasters at Rams Park. It’s not enough that they gather multiple selections. We’ve seen that act before.

    This has to be the draft that makes a difference.

    It’s time to change the fortunes of this franchise with a draft day we’ll remember for all the right reasons, not add this to the recurring nightmares of so many draft days past.


  2. #2
    mde8352gorams's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    Very honest and truthful article. This is the first time I've heard the name Fletcher Cox being touted at #6. Interesting thought. He could be a really valuable addition for us. I'm a strong advocate of the Bill Walsh theory, "it doesn't matter where you pick 'em, it matter how they play for you." Thanks for sharing this article.

    Go Rams!

  3. #3
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    As Burwell says, it's not how many picks and where they are, it's making the most of the picks. I feel very confident that Fisher and Snead know what they are doing and will make the most of this draft.

    Better days are coming!

  4. #4
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    Re: Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Burwell: Rams need to upgrade everywhere
    This has to be the draft that makes a difference.
    Someone. Please stop the insanity.

    Regardless, after the results are in, please people, don't come in here with your polyanna spin crap, praising or condemning whomever is gonna be our next great thing. The draft is a great time, but I'm sick of getting set up again with these false hopes that never seem to pan out.
    Let the hype begin.

  5. #5
    Ram Mar Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    Good article ... Unless they get another great deal to deal down, i hope they stand pat and pick up one of those difference makers at #6 .. although Cox name is new to the list.

    If we get Blackmon #6 .. address DT and RB in round 2 ... doug martin?
    If we get Trent #6 .. address WR and DT round 2 ... Sanu ?
    If we get Claiborne #6 .. address WR & RB round 2

    Gotta lot of faith in Fisher and Snead to come through with 4-5 good players out of this draft.

  6. #6
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    Re: Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    Dear God, please not Claiborne.

    Not only does he have the lowest Wonderlic score in NFL history, but more than that he's an LSU guy ....
    the guy has loser written all over him.
    If a team won their division seven straight times, that would be a NFL record. Now add on that team did it with seven different QB's in seven straight years,that record is unbeatable. To do that feat, you must of had a great Defense. Jack Youngblood was the captain of that defense.

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    Ram Dragoon's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    There are always a plus and a negative in the draft...high draft picks means you pay them more...low draft picks means the cream of the crop are usually gone. I only see there being 13 players in this years draft worth the multi-million dollar contracts they are likely to get.

    So where do the Rams go in the draft--valid arguements can be made for either defensive needs over Offensive needs or vice-versa? RB-WR-CB ? Considering who the NFL.network posts as who is available I wonder what other moves are in the offerings. With as many needs the Rams have, hopefully the Rams get a move on it and fill more holes before the draft forces them to have to fill those holes

  8. #8
    ramsflow is offline Registered User
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    Re: Burwell: Rams Need To Upgrade Everywhere

    I wouldn't say everywhere but we do need some big improvements.

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