Friday, April 14, 2006
- The Rams moved toward an important addition Friday, adding veteran tackle Todd Steussie. While Steussie is past his prime and not the Pro Bowl performer he once was, he doesn't have to be any of those things in St. Louis. With Alex Barron and Orlando Pace as the bookends, the Rams were in desperate need of a veteran third tackle capable of filling in should something happen to Pace or Barron. Steussie is a 12-year veteran with a strong resume from his stops in Minnesota, Carolina and Tampa Bay. In 1997 and 98, Steussie went to the Pro Bowl and has played in 190 games in the NFL. He hasn't been a starter since 2003 with Tampa Bay, the team he last played for. The Rams' need for a third tackle was glaring, even last season when Barron missed time with a hand injury. That forced Blaine Saipaia to play out of position at tackle and left the Rams playing the likes of Matt Morgan to fill in. At one point, the Rams had Matt Willig on the roster, but he was released early in the season.
- The addition of Steussie certainly doesn't preclude the Rams from adding a lineman or two in the draft in a couple of weeks. The offensive line is an area that hasn't been addressed at all in the offseason until this signing. This was clearly the biggest need, but the Rams also need to add some more depth and talent to the interior of an aging line. Adam Timmerman should be in better shape and as ready to go as ever when the season starts after he was unable to go through most of the offseason workouts a year ago because of a variety of surgeries. Andy McCollum is coming off some offseason medical work and also isn't getting any younger. With the likes of Claude Terrell, Richie Incognito and Saipaia, the Rams do have some young talent on the interior, but there is more to be done until that trio proves itself. It's possible that it could be addressed in the second or third round with the likes of USC's Deuce Lutui and Fred Matua, Georgia's Max-Jean Gilles and Oklahoma's Davin Joseph.
- This year is strange in terms of the NFL Draft. Last year at this point it was well known that the Rams were eyeing two possibilities. One involved getting Georgia safety Thomas Davis and the other involved taking the best available tackles (Oklahoma's Jammal Brown or Barron). That made it much easier to forecast. This year, however, things are much more uncertain if only because there is so much uncertainty in front of the Rams. Other than Reggie Bush to Houston, nothing else seems like a sure thing. Things might not be clear until the first 10 picks are made or maybe until the first six or seven picks are made. The last week has made things a little easier to see in terms of potential picks for the first round. Right now, it seems that Maryland tight end Vernon Davis, Texas defensive back Michael Huff and Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley have nudged to the forefront. However, most in league circles believe Davis and Huff will be gone by the time the Rams come on the clock and Bunkley could be too. Bunkley's stock has been rising in recent weeks and he seems a good bet to land in the top 15. Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway is another possibility.
- The idea of taking a quarterback that is being bandied about isn't out of the realm of possibility. Should someone such as Jay Cutler or Vince Young be there at No. 11 and they are a certain level higher on the Rams' board than the next available player, it might happen. However, it would make more sense at that point to look in the direction of a trade down. The one position in the first round that teams haven't hesitated to move up to get in recent years is quarterback. Look at Kyle Boller, J.P. Losman, Eli Manning, Jason Campbell, etc. Teams are always looking for quarterbacks. If Cutler or Young is there, there are plenty of teams that could look into moving up such as Baltimore, Minnesota and even Cleveland, which is just one spot behind St. Louis. That would be dependent on the Rams thinking they could still get the defensive player they want later in the round and adding an additional pick or two in the first three rounds. The Vikings, in particular, would have interest in a trade up.
- The deadline for restricted free agents to land a deal with another team or accept their one-year tender offers is next Friday. Kevin Curtis has yet to receive an offer from another team and probably won't before the deadline because of his first-round compensation tag. All signs point to the return of Curtis, Shaun McDonald and DeJuan Groce on one-year deals.