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    Chat w/ Jim Thomas - Feb 24th

    Jim Thomas Live
    By Jim Thomas
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009 01:00 PM CST


    timmeno: I was just playing Gm/Hc How about? Moving Pacve to OAK for a 2/3rd and Mike Bush(rb) And Holt to Nyg for a 2/3 and Little to Dal for a 3/4 And moving Adam from dt to LDE.

    Jim Thomas: The Rams are keeping Little. See my post on Around the Horns from a couple days ago.



    Kevin: Hey Jim,

    What do you think about Aaron Curry? Apparently the coaching staff and Devaney really like him. From what I have heard and seen from him hes a real beast of a linebacker. I say we get him, the Rams never have dominate defensive players. What do you think?

    Jim Thomas: It's hard not to like Curry. He has size, speed, smarts, charisma, and intelligence. It is a bit of a projection if the Rams want to play him inside in a 4-3. And what do you do about the OT position if you take Curry at No. 2? These are things the Rams have to sort through. And there's also the chance that Detroit will take him No. 1 overall instead of a quarterback.



    Fresno Ram Fan: What free agents do you think the Rams are interested in? and how aggressive do you think Billy D/Spags will be? Thnx

    Jim Thomas: Well, as usual, most of the top names were either franchised or re-signed. No Dansby. No, Asomogha (sp?) No Gross. No Vernon Carey. I'm not sure what the Rams do at tackle. An injured Stacy Andrews? Khalif Barnes? I do think the Rams are interest in FB Leonard Weaver and C Jason Brown. (Brown will be expensive.) There are a couple of safeties I know the Rams are interested in and a WR. But they're not big names, and a I don't want to give them up here to reveal a confidence.



    Ram Dan: Jim,

    Thanks for taking the questions---you do a great job keeping us LA Rams fans apart of the team.

    I know the Rams have a big need for a dominating LT, especially with the expected release of Pace. I have read that many experts believe that LT is the second most important position (behind QB) in the offense.

    I wouldn't be upset with drafting a LT, but I believe a dominating middle LB is one of the keys to a good defense. Look at Pittsburg (Farrior and Harrison), Baltimore (Ray Lewis / Suggs). It seems that most playoff and super bowl teams have either a really good or great middle LB.

    Is it reasonable that we go after Curry from Wake Forest? I think that would be a tad too high at #2. Maybe a trade down a few slots to someone who is looking for Crabtree or one of the big OTs???

    St Louis hasn't had a real dominating middle LB since London "DOT COM" Flethcer, and even London was undersize but made it up with heart and intensity.

    Jim Thomas: I don't think No. 2 is too high for Curry, especially considering Crabtree's fractured foot.



    28-Blast: Where is Setterstrom at healthwise?
    Assuming that Setterstrom is ready to play, where should he be positionwise?

    Jim Thomas: At last check he is on pace to be ready for camp, maybe even for the June minicamp. But given his knee problems of the past two years it's not like the Rams can count on him in '09. He's started games at both guard spots for the Rams, and remember, they worked him some at center in the past in practice.



    signed s. j.: Jim,
    Why did The Rams not put Ron Bartell as a transition player?If they could not have afforded him ?,Couldn't they have at least been able to trade him ? Why last year when both OJ & Bartell were restricted free agents did they not try real hard to sign them to long term contracts?Can't they evaluate there own talent?Does Devaney get another free pass?

    signed frustrated !!

    Jim Thomas: You only get one franchise or transition tag _ and the Rams chose to franchise Atogwe, which was much cheaper than using a franchise tag on Batrell. (by $3.6 million)
    As for blaming Devaney _ he doesn't handle contract negotiations. Last year, those duties were handled by Jay Zygmunt.



    yaderrty06: Funny how people steadily want to bring down Bulger for whatever reason when he is getting his a$$ kicked and never protected! But when he is protected he lights up the skies and everybody is jumping on his back? Everybody forgets how Tom Brady lit up the skies 2 years ago and then the Giants lit his a$$ up in the Super Bowl and he looked like crap in the biggest game of the year. If he was protected like that every game he would look like Bulger every game and so would every QB in the league. I'm not even a huge Bulger fan, wish we still had Warner....but I'll still support our team and won't jump ship when we're down just so I can just jump back on the band wagon when Spags gets Bulger back on track! Doesn't this all sound familiar? Now that I got this off of my chest who do you really think we are going to take in the draft, if you had to pick one right now who would you say it is going to be?

    Jim Thomas: Right now, I'd say either a LT (Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe) or Curry at LB. I think the Rams still like Monroe better.



    Soly: Hi Jim,
    Thanks as always for the forum... Do you think that this linebacker (Curry) is really worth a second overall? In general, lbs aren't taken that high unless they think he could be our next London ".com" Fletcher. I know that this is a need position, but with cap issues, etc, it seems to be a financial reach. This year seems to have trade down written all over it. What do you think?
    Aloha,
    Sol

    Jim Thomas: Sol, you've got to have someone willing to trade up to the No. 2 spot. And with Crabtree's injury, who is there worth taking at No. 2 overall _ into a spot where you're going to commit $50 million plus? (A lot more for a QB.)



    Timothy: Hi Jim,

    How much weight do put in the combines versus the actual games. I know that the previous coaching staff made their assessment mostly on the combines and pro days versus looking at actual game tapes or see them in person.
    Does the injury and height affect Crabtree's draft selection as now he'll not going as high? And what about Macklin's injury?
    Now hearing from Peter King that he really liked Maualuga and thinks he reminded him of a quiet Ray Lewis. Even if the Rams stay at #2, I'd still pick Maualuga. I know people are not happy with him being picked that high but the selection will solve 2 positions. Maualuga will be the MLB and Witherspoon will move back to the OLB, a position he is more fitted for. And the Rams need a MLB pretty bad. Can get a OT in the 2nd round. Don't think Curry can handle the MLB postion for watching him in person, TV and on the internet. What do you think?

    Jim Thomas: Devaney says he doesn't put much stock in the combine, but obviously, an injury (Crabtree) or what he calls an "extreme" workout either good or bad affects him. I don't see how Crabtree's status can't affect where he's drafted. How much it affects him is hard to say right now. Maclin's injury doesn't seem to be serious. Mauluga suffered a hamstring injury at the combine. Again, the big question on Mauluga is whether he's an every down linebacker. If he can't play in coverage, it's a waste to take him at No. 2.



    bfulton: Does the pending trade or release of Pace and Holt mean that the Rams are trying to be players in free agency? Is there a practical deadline for when this needs to happen, thus lessening the likelihood of trade or making them happen at fire sale prices? Is there a practical date for when other player transactions, like cuts, will happen.

    As always, thanks for your quality reporting and insight.

    Jim Thomas: The Rams really can get started in free agency without making any other cap cut moves. (Technically, the Rams won't need the $6 million _ their expected rookie cap _ until they start signing the draft picks in June and July.) But if the Rams are going to make any kind of noise in free agency, they're going to need some money sooner or later. I don't know how big of a splash the Rams will make in free agency. Again, many of the big names are now gone, either through free agency or re-signing. In terms of Holt, he's due a roster bonus in mid-March, so any move on him would have to be done before then.



    R @ / / !: What is wrong with drafting Maclin at #2?

    Jim Thomas: Nothing, I guess, although conventional wisdom said that was too high, even before maclin ran a 4.43 at the combine _ and not in the 4.3s as expected.



    signed s. j.: Jim, I'm at it again.It looks like Ron Bartell might not resign with The Rams.I don't know how he can with the contracts going out for a CB.

    The question is do The Rams resign Jason Craft & or Falker Brown?

    Going into this last season it was suppose to be Brown & Ty Hill to start.The Rams got lucky picking up Jason Craft last year.Justin King from your reports looked good until he got hurt.I would have to say that the CB position ends up having ok depth if Bartell can not be resigned & the others are picked up.

    Jim Thomas: You're right, Bartell looks dicey at this point. I don't think the Rams want to mess with Fakhir after all that has transpired. Don't know about Craft _ I know the previous regime wanted to re-sign him. Don't read too much into Jason King looking good before getting hurt. It was aonly a couple of weeks of looking good. Corner is a concern.



    Jumbo J: Considering the elite OT's have been signed or franchised, and the top C's will command top dollar in FA, i'd like to see the Rams figure a way to get at least three picks in the second round.

    Patrick Chung at SS
    Erik Wood at C
    Clay Matthews-anywhere on D. He's an athlete with Pedigree
    Fenuki Tupou-OT Showed improved feet at the Shrine game.

    Jim Thomas: I do know the Rams like Chung.



    Jeff: Now that the franchise tags have been handed out. Who do you feel are going to be the rams targets in free agency? And is there any chance of Holt and Pace restructuring? I would Like to see them both back next year.
    Thanks

    Jim Thomas: See earlier post on Rams free agency targets. That's about all I want to say on the topic at this point. As for Holt and Pace, I reported a couple of days ago that it now looks like a restructuring won't happen with either player, which means they probably won't be back this year.



    desousa209: Hey Jim
    What is your gut feeling telling you about what the Rams will do with there second pick? I think they get Crabtree or Cury in 1st round and wait until 2nd round to get a OL. Sounds like A. Smith might still be there??

    Jim Thomas: I am now convinced that the Rams won't touch Andre Smith with a 10-foot pole.



    Alex Alvidrez: Bring back the Reverend. He's better than any receiver the Rams have right now.. He can only improve this receiver corps...

    Jim Thomas: Bruce currently remains under contract with San Francisco.



    beast39: Jim,
    Do you see Ron Bartell playing for the Rams next season?

    Jim Thomas: It's too close to call right now.



    Brian: What are the Rams going to do about their backup QB situation? I do not believe they can rely on Green. Do you think that Spags will have a short leash on Bulger if he begins to play like he has the last two years? Thank you.

    Jim Thomas: A good question. I don't have the answer for you. I think even Green isn't sure. We might get a pretty good hint early in free agency if the Rams make any kind of move towards Garcia _ who played for Shurmur in Philly.



    chrisdavidg: Jim,

    Do you think Aaron Curry is a Ray Lewis caliber backer? He seems like a great Character to have in our locker room. He already has a relationship with Chris Long, this could be a good indication that he surrounds himself with good people. I say bring this kid on and build our D around him. Any big name receivers we could get for a pace/holt package. Having the same agent makes a combo deal a possiblity right?
    Thanks Jim

    Jim Thomas: Yeah, but if you trade Pace and Holt to the same team, that team picks up $14 million worth of contracts for Pace and Holt. That's a lot of money.



    mrchip: Hi Jim,

    Potential trade down partners? Other than perhaps Curry, I don't see anyone who stacks up to #2, what if Detroit takes Curry? Are we just taking tackle to fill a position of need, seems like a bad idea at #2 (hence the desire to trade down).

    Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: I don't know about LT being a bad idea. I'd be very surprised if Monroe didn't go in the top 5. And Jason Smith didn't go in the top 10.



    Daniel: Hey Jim, this may have already been addressed in past chats, but this being the 10th anniversary of the Superbowl season, are there plans to wear the old-school uniforms this year?

    Jim Thomas: Yea, I wrote about this during the season. The Rams have received permission to wear their '99 throwbacks next seson. They get to wear them three times at home games.



    dan: hey Jim,
    i know all the talk of Crabtree or Maclin, and now Curry might be pre-draft posturing. but with the release of Orlando Pace now very likely and with the best free agent tackle Jordan Gross off the market, how can the Rams be thinking anything other than offensive tackle with the #2 pick?? especially with 4 to 5 of them projected to go in the first round. you cannot get your true money's worth out of either Bulger or Jackson without an offensive line to block for them. and the thought of Barron or Goldberg or whoever else they might plug in at left tackle scares me to death. i say it has to be Eugene Monroe or Smith from Baylor with the second overall selection. afterall, what good will Crabtree or Maclin be if Bulger is laying on his back all game? and no more drafting defensive players and trying to plug them in at the wrong position (see Adam Carriker). lets make the smartest pick and plug in a guy like Monroe who will likely be a starter from day one, and anchor that position for years to come.
    thanks for your time.

    Jim Thomas: That's why if you put a gun to my head and said, OK, who would the Rams take right now _ on Feb. 24 _ I'd say Monroe.



    Andy: Hi Jim,

    Thanks for taking the time to do these chats. Your insight is greatly appreciated.

    I heard Jeremy Maclin came up a little short at the Combine. He couldn't crack 4.4 in the 40, which really surprised me. I figured 4.4 was a given for him. Then, he tweaked his knee, and, while it may not be anything serious, I'm sure it didn't help the perception I know some people have that he is fragile/injury prone. Overall, how do you think Maclin's workouts affected his standing: positively, negatively, or not much either way? Will he experience big setbacks from them?

    Jim Thomas: Unless there's more to the knee than anticipated _ and I don't think there will be _ I think Maclin neither helped nor hurt himself in Indy. Because combating the fact that he tweaked the knee and didn't run as fast as hoped was the fact that his workout by all accounts was very impressive before he was shaken up.



    vanvaley1: Can the Rams get a number one draft pick from the Giants for Holt?

    Jim Thomas: I sure didn't hear any scuttlebut to that effect at the combine.



    GoRams2001: JT - couple of questions about Orlando Pace.

    1) Did he really play that poorly last year or are they just forecasting a big dropoff this season? I watched every game and don't recall many bad plays by big #76.

    2) Any chance he would agree to play RT for a few years, assuming we draft an LT with the first round pick? Barron could be an adequate backup at both tackle positions this season.

    Jim Thomas: 1.) No, I don't think he played that poorly last year. But the Rams, I believe, no longer regard him as a shutdown left tackle.
    2.) Moving to RT is a tough move after so many years at the left side.



    DanishRam: Is it fair to assume that it is now down to three guys - J Smith, Monroe and Curry?? If so is there someone which would you prefer?

    Jim Thomas: That's kind of the way I see it. And I would say Monroe leads the pack right now. But there's two months to the draft and a lot can happen between now and then.



    brokeu91: Hi Jim, thanks for doing these chats.

    A couple of questions: What are the chances that Bartell resigns? Do you really think it's a forgone conclusion that he's going to leave? And with the possibility of both Pace and Holt being gone, what becomes a bigger need LT or WR?

    Jim Thomas: This one is becoming too close to call. On the one hand, I think Bartell would like to stay. On the other, he's suddenly become the prettiest girl at the dance with some of the franchise tags and re-signings that have taken place.
    If both go, it would have to be LT, because the Rams would have only one offensive tackle under contract (Barron) who was anywhere close to being considered starting material.



    bronko: Jim,

    The No. 2 pick needs to be a sure impact player. None of the offensive tackles available seem to be that guy at No.2. Do think it's possible for the Rams to trade down and still get Curry? If so, how far down?

    Do you think the Rams could still pick up a decent tackle at the beginning of the second round of they go with Curry, Macklin or Crabtree?

    thanks

    Jim Thomas: There seems to be a noticeable dropoff at offensive tackle after the Big Four (Monroe, A. Smith, J. Smith and Oher). Unlike last season, I'm not sure if there's a decent tackle available at the start of the second round this year.



    jemach: Does Detroit need a linebacker...any linebacker?

    Jim Thomas: Apparently so, because the Lions had a dinner planned with Curry at the combine.



    renz's rams: Jim a couple questions:

    1. Why has the team not renegotiated or released Pace/Holt?
    2. Clearly the team needs to get younger. Why is Bartell not resigned he is a cornerstone player?
    3. With so many holes and so little cap room, is there any thoughts in the front office to focussing on only one side of the ball? for Example draft curry in the 1rst and grab either DT Hood/brace in the 2nd or even Clay Matthews. Then sign SS Wilson/Butler and at least try and shore up one side we have too many holes to fix everything in just one year.

    Jim Thomas: 1.) They're working on that now.
    2.) Is Bartell worth, say $8 million a year, with, say, $18 million guaranteed?
    3.) No, I think they're working on both sides.



    tshort: Jim,
    Do you think, considering the quality of the present players, the Rams cap space, Devaney, Spags, and Company would be better suited trading their second choice for additional picks this year and next? Rams need players and not just one or two. Second pick gets a big weekly check, and is not a guarantee.

    Jim Thomas: Sure, but again, you're assuming there's a trade partner. That some team just has to move up to the No. 2 spot for somebody. Is there currently such a player in the draft? Stafford? Curry? Crabtree? And keep in mind, Detroit will take somebody off the list before the Rams get to No. 2.



    Dave: Hi Jim, Do you have any idea when a decision is coming on pace and Holt? Do you think the rams have any interest in taking BJ Raj with the number two pick?

    Jim Thomas: 1.) Sooner rather than later.
    2.) Raji is a load, and I do think the Rams have more of an interest in shoring up their line than has been advertised so far.



    Nelson Muntz: Jim,

    1. Do you think Avery can be the go to guy in his 2nd year? Didn't he have trouble running the correct routes last year? Same with Burton?
    2. What is more important to the Rams right now: a good fullback or a good back up running back?
    3. Any word on Tye Hill in the off season? Are the Rams thinking he has what it takes with good coaching and renewed confidence or are they going in a different direction?

    Jim Thomas: 1.) I'm sure the Rams are expecting him to take a big step forward this year, which involves becoming a better route runner. Burton, who has had knee problems, needs to stay on the field more than anything.
    2.) Both
    3.) Not really. Spagnuolo isn't really going to pass judgment on him or many other returning vets until he sees them on the practice field.



    Danny: hey jim, great eventful weekend eh?
    Just wondering if you have herd anything about gartrel johnson from CSU? Ive watched him a couple times this season and he runs so hard... and weirdly resembles SJax. would be a great steal in rounds 4-5.. anythoughts?

    Jim Thomas: Haven't heard anything on him. But I'll try to get a bead on him between now and the draft.



    COGzilla: Looks lke Jason Brown will be a little too rich for our blood. Doesnt re-signing Incognito and putting him at center make sense?That allows Greco and Bell among others to battle for the guard spots and beefs up the line.
    Gut feeling on Barron as of today?Cut,traded,starter, or back-up?
    thanks.

    Jim Thomas: Starter. (I say this without much conviction, or enthusiasm.)



    4thandJuan: Hello Jim,
    When you cite "league sources," is it safe to say you're talking about people outside the Rams organization? Would that apply to agents, or even players?
    Thnx

    Jim Thomas: I never kiss and tell.



    Mrs. Curry: My son is clearly the best player in the draft. Doesn't it make sense to pick the best player when you are obviously more than one good player away from contending?

    Do Greco and Scheuning have any potential to help this team? Is Vobora just a special teamer?

    If you draft my son, I will make everyone my special recipe Mama Curry's sack n cheese!!

    Jim Thomas: Greco projects as a potential starter at guard. Whether that happens next year or not remains to be seen. Schuening looks like a backup, same with Vobora, but it's hard to pass any definitive judgment after just one year.



    Bonehead: Jim

    Thanks for doing these chats.

    One of the talking heads on ESPN suggested the Rams might be a possible destination for Michael Vick. Is this possible?

    Jim Thomas: I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.



    ramholio: I am assuming the Rams trade Torry and Orlando rather than just releasing them...who would be some possible suitors?

    Jim Thomas: The fact that Holt has just one year left on his contract and is due $8 million in that one year reduces his trade value.



    Fresno Ram Fan: Hey Jim,

    Wanted to know if you know when the Rams are going to cut/trade Pace/Holt? and what free agents do you think they will target? Do you think the Rams will re-sign Ricky Manning Jr? I think his aggressive style would fit Spags Defense great. Thnx for keeping us out of state Ram fans updated.

    Jim Thomas: I'll just answer the Manning Jr. question here. I think Craft is more likely to be re-signed than Manning, who's coming off an injury and doesn't run all that well, but is a tough, physical player.



    marvin slay: Mr. Thomas

    Why the franchise tag on atogwe? I thought everyone agreed he was too small to be really effective.

    Marvin Slay
    San Diego

    Jim Thomas: I can never recall anyway saying Atogwe was too small to be effective. As for the franchise tag, it probably has to do with his 27 interceptions & forced fumbles over the past three seasons, which is more than any safety in the league over that period _ Ed Reed included.



    Offensive Line: What is am I going to look like next year?

    Jim Thomas: Different at tackle and center.



    joeswimmer: JT, has it been verified that the Titans offered a first round pick for Holt last year. If so, why would we pass on an offer like that when we are prepared to let him walk and get nothing in return?

    Also I don't understand the curoius strategy the Rams are employing with Otagwe and Bartell. I assumed that they would franchise Bartell given that it should be easier, and cheaper to sign a safety vs a cornerback. They went the opposite direction and now it appears Bartell's signing could be problematic....

    Tell me these guys know what they are doing?

    Jim Thomas:
    I had hear that ownership vetoed any possible trade of Holt last season, and remember, this scenario took place pretty early in the season before the trade deadline.
    You franchise a safety instead of a corner because it's $3.6 million cheaper to do so. So I see nothing curious about this. It makes sense, in fact.



    I Needahammer: With our team needing help in soooo many areas, wouldn't the smartest choice (with the #2 pick) be to take the BEST player available... Curry seems to be the BEST. Picking him would be like getting 2 players, as we could move Spoooon to the outside where he belongs and get a MLB...

    I've asked you to comment on what I feel is our most GLARING NEED, but I have yet to get a response... We DO NOT have a NFL caliber back-up RB! Jackson will get injured and our team has no chance. Look at what's happened with the Offense when he's out. Ridiculous. Why doesn't anyone write about this in your paper? We need to get rid of the losers we have collecting checks at the back-up RB position immediatly. None of them would be able to make the roster of any other NFL team. The rest of the NFL has figured out that one running back is not enough... when will we?

    Jim Thomas: I may not have answered your question specifically on the glaring need for the Rams _ I only have time to answer a fraction of the questions I get _ but I have answered it many times in the past. I still think the most glaring need for the Rams is at offensive tackle. And I've felt that way for months. But the Rams have so many serioius needs on both sides of the ball, they could truly go in several directions with that first round pick, really anywhere other than QB, RB, punter, kicker.



    Jeremy (Denver): Who is more likely to STAY at this point...Pace or Holt?

    Jim Thomas: Right now, I don't think either will be back.



    Mitch from San Diego: Hi Jim,

    Great job on the Rams coverage at the combine. I read your article on the top three. The Rams should take Curry as the best player available at #2. To me, he is the best player in the draft for a variety of reasons. As for Monroe's 23 reps I seem to remember the one knock on Orlando Pace was that he only managed 19 reps. Long armed guys don't do well in the bench. Monroe would be my second choice at #2 as a need pick. If they trade down Michael Oher would be a safe mid first round pick based on need.

    Jim Thomas: Mitch, you do make a good point on long-armed guys not doing as well in the bench press. They do have farther to go with each repetition.



    Big B: Jim, Hello and Thank you for the forum. If Holt and Pace have played their last games with the Rams, when will we actually see the moves made? Free Agency starts in less than 72 hours. Any chance the Rams make a quick move in Free Agency say over the weekend or will it be more drawn out? Thank you.

    Jim Thomas: On Holt and Pace, I'd say sooner rather than later. I would be surprised if the opening weekend passed without the Rams making a move or two.



    BrandonRAMS: Hello Jim,
    With Crabtree waiting to run till his pro-day, and his measurables coming up up a whole 2" inches shorter(6'1 overall) than he was listed in college. Would Maclin be the better reciever to chose right now(what was his vertical)? Or will it come down to what Crabtree will do on his pro-day?

    Jim Thomas: I still think any chance that Maclin had to close the gap on Crabtree evaporated when he ran a 4.43 in the 40. But before passing any final judgment, let's see how Maclin does at his pro day, and what develops regarding Crabtree and his surgery over the next two months.



    John: Hi Jim, I appreciate all the hard work you do in covering the Rams. Question, now that Ken Fajole is our defensive coordinator, what does this mean for Chris Draft? I was excited when the Rams picked him up because I always thought he was a solid linebacker. If I'm not not mistaken Fajole worked with Draft in Carolina. Are the Rams seeing him as a possible starting MLB if they are unable to address that position in the draft or free agency? Thanks for answering my question.

    Jim Thomas: You know, I don't know how Flajole feels reguarding Draft, pro or con. I know under the previous regime, the thought was that Draft could do a solid job at middle linebacker if the club was unable to fill the need via free agency or the draft. I don't know if that has transferred over to the new staff or not.



    Encino: Assuming Detroit does not trade down, what is your best guess as to what the Lions will do with the number one pick in the draft?

    Jim Thomas: Right now, I'd say either QB or Curry.



    BrandonRAMS: Hello Jim,
    You are the GM/COACH Say it is draft day right now. Didn't do to much with free agency. And you still haven't decided what to do with HOLT or PACE. You are on the clock, who would you choose? And why? What will you do with HOLT/PACE?

    Jim Thomas: I'd say Monroe, a quality player and person fulfilling a big need.



    gmavris: On the QB situation, it is clear that Shurmer/Rams will go with Bulger. Will the rams go for a back up more versed in the West Coast system (yeah, I know they don't like calling it a WCO but . . .). Will the back ups be given a chance to compete? Any light you can shed on the QB situation beyond Bulger would be welcomed. Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: Based on Spagnuolo's strong comments in favor of Bulger at the combine, it looks like he once again is the guy.



    chrisdavidg: Jim,

    I thought this Tony Softi guy was a personnel guru? I never hear anything about him, is he at the combine?

    Jim Thomas: He's still with the club and was at the combine. I never heard him described anywhere as a personnel guru. He had a falling out with Zygmunt, but with Zyggy gone and Devaney now calling the shots as GM, Softli's career has been revived somewhat.



    HomeRunHomer: With the hiring of Mike Williams as the new director of pro personnel scouting department how does that affect Tony Softli as Vice President/Player Personnel? I remember when Tony was hired that the team was talking about some kind of “system” that Tony was setting up for evaluating and categorizing the players. Are the Rams using this system for player evaluation? Also how many people did the Rams take to the combine? Was it just people from the personnel department or did a lot of the position coaches go along as well?

    Jim Thomas: I don't think Williams' hiring has antyhing to do with Softli, who's expertise remains more on the college side. I don't know if Softli's "system" ever was implemented. Zygmunt had put the brakes on it a while back. The Rams took their entire scouting department and entire coaching staff to the combine, as usual.



    stephen bradley: Jim,

    Do you really see a reason for the Rams to not take anyone but Curry at this point? A rookie left tackle will not give them a dominant offense anytime soon, but with Curry this year, and Long last year, the Rams will have picked the top defensive player in the country two years in a row.

    Jim Thomas: I don't know, most of the top left tackles taken in recent years have been instant starters. And do you think the addition of Curry would make the Rams a dominant defense this year?



    oneramsfan: What's for lunch?

    Jim Thomas: I had french onion soup and half a tuna sandwich at the start of the chat. My wife brought it to me from the Bread Co. (I'm working from home today.)



    lynyrd: Jim, As always thanks again for the chats. I notice a lot of posters here just assume that Curry will be there for the picking for us at #2 however I think that's possibly a big mistake.

    As I see it, the QB class at the combine has been underwhelming and unless Stafford REALLY lights it up at his pro day I can very easily see the Lions taking Curry at #1 for the following reasons: 1) He's the "safest" pick in the draft and in this economy that's no small matter especially when you're going to be investing between fifty and sixty million dollars in somebody. 2) Curry fits a need. Like the Rams, Detroit has needs EVERYWHERE so why not start with the best player available and a difference maker? and 3) By all accounts, yours included Jim, this is a top notch kid who has it all: Character, Charisma, and Ablity. The whole package.

    What do you think Jim? Do you think my scenario has merit or do you think the Lions are hellbent on drafting a QB?

    Jim Thomas: You bring up a very good point. Curry may not be there at No. 2! As I mentioned in a previous post, the Lions were scheduled to have dinner with Curry at the combine. Also, there's the sign-ability issue. A LB might be easier to sign _ and cheaper _ than a QB. But let's see what Stafford does when he throws at his pro day.



    Greg H.: In listing the top of the crop players, I am wondering if one guy may have been left out of consideration. That would be defensive tackle B.J. Ryan. Posted fine numbers in the bench with 33 reps, apparently was unblockable all through senior bowl week (that is what really says something), and ran a reported 5.13 in the forty. For a DT, that is pretty darn good. Can't compare a DT and a DE for defensive line 40 times, just completely two different types of athletes involved. So I am wondering if this guy has simply slipped under everyone's radar or if he did something that would cause him to not be considered not only the best defensive lineman in the entire draft, but also one of the top two defensive players in the draft, period?

    Thanks,

    Greg

    Jim Thomas: Obviously, you mean B.J. Raji. Not Ryan. But it's an excellent point. Originally, I planned on writing about both Curry and Raji for Monday's paper _ the idea being that these are two fine prospects if the Rams go defense at No. 2 overall. But Curry was such an outstanding interview I went with him only.
    Anyway, I think defensive line may be more of a priority for the new regime than we think at this point. It doesn't matter who you have at linebacker if you don't have a defensive line that can occupy blockers and more. So yeah, I would agree. Don't sleep on Raji as a possible No. 2 overall pick.



    Todd from Michigan: Hi Jim and thanks for your time
    Jim, what Steve Spagnuola ex-safety will the Rams look at for free agency. James Butler who thrived in Spagnuola's system or Gibril Wilson who also received a huge payday from benefiting from his system. Butler I think would be cheaper in my opinion. Thank you Jim.

    Jim Thomas: I don't really have a read on these guys yet. But it sure makes sense to assume they are under consideration.



    Todd from Michigan: Hi Jim
    Jim I also have some man love for Aaron Curry In your honest opinion do YOU think he could play and star in the middle for the Rams.

    Jim Thomas: Well, that's the question. Can he play in the middle? Everyone seems to think so, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, he only did it on the practice field at Wake Forest, not in games.



    DieterBrock: 1. If they don't trade out of their slot, is there any reason to believe the Rams don't use their first round pick on Monroe, J. Smith, or Curry?

    2. Where are the best values in free agency and which positions do you expect them to target most aggressively?

    Jim Thomas: 1.) Those sure look like the logical picks at this point.
    2.) Don't know about values, but center, safety, wide receiver, offensive tackle, linebacker, fullback, all seem like possibilities.



    KansanRam: What do you think would/should happen to Incognito? Will the low tender him and hope to get a 3rd round pick in return for someone else signing him? That's what I hope - an extra 3rd would be HUGE for our rebuilding phases and for the good Cogs brings - he brings WAY more bad. We have enough guards anyway, an extra 3rd is too good to pass up. Do you think someone else would sign him if we low tender him?

    THANKS!

    Jim Thomas: Don't know for sure. But I'm expecting a third-round tender on Incognito.



    bigramsfan: HEY JIM, ARE THE RAMS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING THE CENTER FROM THE RAVENS (BROWN) IF SO WHAT WILL HE DEMAND $$ WISE ?? AND HOW DOES THAT AFFECT THEM DRAFT WISE ? THANKS

    Jim Thomas: I know the Rams like Brown; I know Brown will be expensive.



    eternalramnation: JT,

    When will the Rams announce their cap casualties or do they plan on keeping everyone? Don't get me wrong I like the close to the vest thing but seems we're cutting it pretty close.

    Jim Thomas: Let's see. The Rams have cut Chavous and told Little they're bringing him back. I think they're working they way through the list.



    eric: How much of a change would it be for Curry to move inside? Would it be an improvement over Witherspoon?


    I read how Monroe was considered to have the better feet and Smith had more bench reps. Is upper body strength easier to overcome than good footwork. Comparing these two skills with Smith and Monroe who grades out better?

    Jim Thomas: 1.) Well, that's the uncertain thing.
    2.) In theory it would be an improvement, becuase Curry has more of the MLB physique at 254 pounds than Witherspoon.
    3.) I still think Monroe probably grades out better.



    Kevin: It's my opinion that the rams need to add a solid number 2 running back and a legitimate full back in order to establish themselves as a power running offense. What do you think the rams will do in those aspects? What do you think of Fred Taylor, Darren Sproles?

    Jim Thomas: Sproles is franchised, so that basically takes him off the market. As for Taylor, I'm sure the Rams would have to decided how much he has left, and how much he'd take to be a backup. And keep in mind, it seems like the Rams _ in general _ are trying to make the roster younger.



    Chris: Do you think Alex Barron will become a better player and start on the left side or would you consider him a bust? also which side of the ball do you think the draft will favor, offense or defense?

    Thanks

    Jim Thomas: Even if Barron never played another game for the Rams, I wouldn't consider him a bust. Just someone who never seemed to reach his potential.



    MadGoat: Hey Jim,

    I know the NFL seems to be recession proof, but will TV money and shared revenue be enough to keep the Rams from seeing financial difficulties if the fans stop shelling out the cash on gameday and the local advertising revenue dries up? Will Chip use his own cash to keep things going? It just seems like teams that are having a tougher time on the field may start seeing some off the field financial problems as well.

    Jim Thomas: Interesting question. I'll say this: I think Chip needs the revenues generated from ticket sales and game day spending more than many other owners. So the quicker the team becomes more competitive and starts packing the stands, the better off it'll be for Chip in terms of continuing to own the team.



    Tyson Langland: Jim, I know it would be favorable for the Rams to add another wide receiver because Bennett can't be counted on for 16 games. Would you be confident if the Rams entered the season with Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton and Drew Bennett as our top three receivers? Also. do you know if the Rams have contacted Drew Bennett about restructuring his current contract, since he hasn't been reliable?

    Jim Thomas: I would not feel confident if Avery, Burton, and Bennett were the top 3 in '09. Would you? The problem with Bennett's contract is more the un-amortized signing bonus money _ money that has already been paid out but that still hasn't been charged against the cap. Restructruring won't help there.



    tc: Hi Jim, thanks for doing this, what do you think the likelihood of a trade for either Holt/Pace vs. outright release?

    Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: I guess a trade is possible, and I have a sense that there is some interest in both players throughout the league, but I just didn't hear or learn of any trade buzz involving Holt and Pace at the combine. Again, that doesn't mean it won't happen.



    Gixxer: Jim,

    If the Rams were offered a 1st rounder for Holt during the regular season, why cant they get any offers now? What has changed? I don't expect them to get offered something that good again but why not a 3rd-4th rounder for the guy? I think he would help a contending team a lot so I don't know why any teams would not make a move for him rather than deal with him as a free agent if he is released. Can you shed some insight on this? Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: Don't you think a team in the midst of a playoff race is a little more desperate for help than one on the eve of free agency and the draft when there are so many possible alternatives available?



    estretch80: jim what are your thoughts on this: rams trade a 4th round pick for kevin kolb from phily. kolb's posistion coach was shurmer and and couger teamate was avery. i like that combo. whats your thoughts? thank you jim.

    Jim Thomas: Isn't Kolb still supposed to be the QB of the future in Philly?



    Fan from Hong Kong: Hi Jim,

    A big fan all the way from Hong Kong.

    On Curry, many are talking about him being a middle linebacker. Would one option be him playing the strong side while sliding Draft to the middle?

    Jim Thomas: No doubt. Curry at strongside. Draft in the middle. Witherspoon at weakside. Pisa and Culberson off the bench. Curry stays on the field in the nickel with Draft heading to the bench.



    Memphis Ram: Isn't there a deadline for the Rams to place tenders on their restricted free agents? When is it?

    Jim Thomas: I believe it's this Friday.



    Tom S: Do you think if William Moore falls to the 2nd round that the Rams may try to get him, that is if we go OT in the 1st?

    Jim Thomas: At this point, I think the Rams have more interest in Chung than Curry under that scenario at the top of the second round. That's all for now. See you all next week.


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    Re: Chat w/ Jim Thomas - Feb 24th

    Lots of the same questions. A couple of the answers that jumped out at me were:

    1. That JT knows the RAMS won't touch Andre Smith with a 10' pole.
    2. Raji could be a sleeper at the #2 pick.

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    Re: Chat w/ Jim Thomas - Feb 24th

    The point I noticed from JT is this:

    Does Curry instantly make this defensive that much better or does a LT that will start Game 1 make the offense that much better? I think drafting the OT makes the Rams instantly better.

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    Re: Chat w/ Jim Thomas - Feb 24th

    It's a toss up between the three of J. Smith, E. Monroe, and A. Curry. I honestly think the pick is Monroe.

    Curry is a freaking beast. He's gonna be a great player in the NFL. However, I think we could us E. Monroe, seeming that we may be losing out on Pace. Jackson and Bulger are rooting for Monroe/J. Smith.

    I'm glad we're staying away from Andre Smith. I had high hopes on this guy, but he just fell off the planet.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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    Re: Chat w/ Jim Thomas - Feb 24th

    I think Linebackers like Curry only come so often ala Patrick Willis or Nick Barnett or Shawne Merrimen, or Jerod Mayo. These players make their units better overall and you see it through the overall play of the defense. With Merriman in there the Chargers had a force that you have to double team which helps other players out.

    CURRY IS THAT TYPE OF PLAYER

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