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  1. #1
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    Draft looks OK at first glance

    Draft looks OK at first glance

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    04/27/2009

    Another Rams draft is in the books, but don't expect any grades to be posted here. I'll leave that to the celebrity pundits who want to pass final judgment before the draftees even strap on a helmet.

    In about two years we'll know if Rams general manager Billy Devaney aced the test or flunked it.

    But as is the case with any draft, we can't help but have spontaneous, initial reactions. And we certainly have questions.

    Let's get to it:

    Here is what I really liked:

    — The No. 2 overall pick, offensive tackle Jason Smith. Abundantly talented, with a hunger to be the best.

    — The fourth-round pick, Clemson defensive tackle Darell Scott: He is big, strong and has talent. Scott had a disappointing senior season, but not because he dogged it. The Rams' coaches will get Scott back on track and he'll have a chance to be a run stuffer inside.

    — The seventh-round pick, Texas running back Chris Ogbonnaya: He's 220 pounds, can catch the ball, is a willing blocker and is an underrated power runner. Used in a variety of roles at Texas, he never really got into a groove, but he has a shot at emerging as Steven Jackson's backup.

    Here's what I sort of liked:

    — The second-round draft pick, Ohio State middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. Look, he'll be a productive tackler. There's no surrender in him. He can probably start immediately. But ... MORE BERNIE

    Here's what I didn't like:

    — USC middle linebacker Rey Maualuga was still on the board when the Rams went with Laurinaitis at No. 32 overall.

    Word is, the Rams had some off-field concerns about Maualuga. But if this turns out to be nitpicking, the Rams could come to regret the decision. Maualuga is a run-stopping maniac who attacks running backs with the kind of zeal that you don't see very often. I don't care if he isn't a three-down MLB; teams use the nickel defense on most third downs, anyway. The Rams have to start plugging the run to fix an embarrassingly soft defense.

    The previous Rams regime foolishly allowed MLB London Fletcher to walk as a free agent after the 2001 season, and from 2002-2008, only the Raiders and Browns have been plundered for more rushing yards than the Rams. Between 2002-2008, no team gave up more runs (414) that netted 10 yards or longer.

    Perhaps there are some rough edges to Maualuga's personality. Perhaps the Rams think he's a little wild, a little out of control. I don't know. But that edginess and danger also made Maualuga the nastiest MLB in this draft, and the Rams took a pass. Maualuga went to Cincinnati at No. 35 overall, and he's going to be berserk in his motivation to make teams pay for not drafting him.

    I sincerely hope that the Rams made the right call here.

    — I don't like that the Rams reached for their third-round pick, Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher. My friend Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, who is the best media draft guy in the business, disagrees with me on this. He had Fletcher rated No. 66 overall, and that's exactly where the Rams chose him. But Fletcher started only 21 games at Iowa. He's a height-speed cornerback who played well in an All-Star game. The Rams chose those size-speed measurables over actual production and a history of playmaking, and that frequently backfires.

    Perhaps I'm still scarred from the old days, when George Boone used to draft these workout stars for the St. Louis football Cardinals, and most of them flopped. If my concerns are unjustified, I'll be happy to issue a mea culpa in a couple of years.

    — I don't like that the Rams are still thin and largely unproven at wide receiver — even though their fourth-round selection, North Carolina WR Brooks Foster, has potential. I don't like it that coach Steve Spagnuolo seems to think the Rams are in good shape at the position. They aren't. It's surprising that the Rams neglected to make this more of a priority.

    — I don't like that the Rams used a sixth-round pick on a small-college quarterback, Keith Null, who almost certainly would have gone undrafted.

    Devaney made some interesting choices over the two days. He went conservative in some areas (the No. 1 and the No. 2 picks) but really tossed the dice in later rounds.

    Bobby Beathard, Devaney's mentor, used to make puzzling choices in the draft but often struck gold. George Boone and Bill Bidwill used to make perplexing draft choices, too. And they usually found fool's gold.

    In a few years, we'll know if Billy D had a Beathard draft or a Boone draft.



  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Draft looks OK at first glance

    Hmm, since we're still largely going on a hunch, I believe the Rams made the MUCH better decision to go with Laurinaitis than Maualuga.

  3. #3
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    Re: Draft looks OK at first glance

    Quote Originally Posted by RealRam View Post
    Hmm, since we're still largely going on a hunch, I believe the Rams made the MUCH better decision to go with Laurinaitis than Maualuga.
    I agree. Maualuga is a head case, and since we already have Incogneto on our team, that role is filled.

    I do agree with Bernie that WR should have been a bigger priority, but what are you gonna do? I don't think we did too badly. I guess we will just have to wait and see

  4. #4
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    Re: Draft looks OK at first glance

    Oh... I'm going to have fun with this one...

    Quote Originally Posted by RamDez View Post
    don't expect any grades to be posted here. I'll leave that to the celebrity pundits who want to pass final judgment before the draftees even strap on a helmet.
    Okay... so that's the starting premise. Let's see if Bernie can live up to his promise not to be one of those "celebrity pundits."

    Here's what I didn't like:

    — USC middle linebacker Rey Maualuga was still on the board when the Rams went with Laurinaitis at No. 32 overall.

    Word is, the Rams had some off-field concerns about Maualuga. But if this turns out to be nitpicking, the Rams could come to regret the decision. Maualuga is a run-stopping maniac who attacks running backs with the kind of zeal that you don't see very often.
    Let's look at what they did in their last 3 college seasons (both were full time starters):

    Laurinaitis
    366 tackles
    24 tackles for loss
    13 sacks
    9 interceptions

    Run-stopping Maniac
    236 tackles
    18 tackles for loss
    8 sacks
    4 interceptions

    Yeah... the Rams clearly picked the wrong guy.
    I don't care if he isn't a three-down MLB; teams use the nickel defense on most third downs, anyway.
    I'm glad the Rams DO care if their starting MLB can play all three downs.

    Maualuga went to Cincinnati at No. 35 overall, and he's going to be berserk in his motivation to make teams pay for not drafting him.
    So... you're not judging players before they put a helmet on, or you are? I'm confused, Bernie.

    I don't like that the Rams reached for their third-round pick, Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher.
    For a writer, Bernie has a tough time wit grammar. The correct statement, as Bernie is clearly stating an opinion, would be "I think that the Rams reached for their third-round pick..." By writing "the Rams reached" he has expressed his opinion as a fact (which is amusing, as the next sentence acknowledges that someone more qualified than he disagrees with his opinion).

    I don't like it that coach Steve Spagnuolo seems to think the Rams are in good shape at the position. They aren't.
    Here we go again. Bernie's opinion expressed as a fact. Is there reason to be concerned that the Rams young and largely unproven WR corps might not be sufficient. Sure there is. But I'll take Steve Spagnuolo's opinion over mine any day of the week when it comes to evaluating an NFL roster.

    In a few years, we'll know if Billy D had a Beathard draft or a Boone draft.
    Bernie states in several places that he "hopes" the Rams made the right choices. Does anyone believe that. I think Bernie thrives on negative commentary, and would be happy if the Rams draft failed.


    My grade for this article: D-

  5. #5
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    Re: Draft looks OK at first glance

    Avenger Ram, that was just awesome. I will soon get back up off the floor and dust myself off and laugh all over again!!
    BLACK HILLS RAMMAN

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    Re: Draft looks OK at first glance

    In regards to the problem Bernie, and others, have with our receiver corps, I personally think that the issue is that they're young and unproven. That's a rather good feeling, as yes, they are indeed mostly young guys with only a few years experience at best, however, the feeling that adding a higher rated rookie than we did would make the corps significantly better holds no water in my mind. I would think that we should be campaigning for the Rams to add a veteran who can help teach and stabilize the position. The pickings aren't great, but there's some notable names still out there.

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    Re: Draft looks OK at first glance

    This article is actually the most reassuring thing I've read post-draft. I was getting a little squirrelly after we got an A grade from the fine minds at Walter Football.

    A tepid review from Bowel Movement is the best tonic for this concerned Rams fan.

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    Thumbs up Re: Draft looks OK at first glance

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post

    My grade for this article: D-
    Cosigned. ...

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