Saint Louis Rams
Columnist - John Bronsky
WILL THEY FIT?
In the shoe business there's an old saying "If the shoe fits, wear it". This can be true about the 2005 NFL draft for the St. Louis Rams. Going into free agency and the draft, the Rams needed two LB's , a ROT, two safeties, depth along the OL, a DE , and a total upgrade on special teams. With the additions of Dexter Coakley, Chris Claiborne, Jay Williams, Micheal Stone, Micheal Hawthorne, and Rex Tucker the Rams addressed many of their needs early in free agency. While the team didn't go out and make a big money splash early, the team picked up solid veterans that won't kill the teams future cap. Going into the draft there was still work to be done, and the Rams drafted the right players to fill those holes. There is no question the players selected match their needs, the question remains will they be the perfect fit?
On day one in the draft, the organization selected Alex Barron, Ronald Bartell, Oshiomogho Atogwe , and Richie Incognito. Thats a ROT, a CB/FS, a FS, and a OL. Not bad on the first day. While the team really looked to trade up to potentially grab Jamal Brown or Thomas Davis the pick at #19 in Alex Barron was a pleasant surprise. Barron has the tools to be a great OT in the league. He has the size and speed to excel. With 37 inch arms, through proper coaching of techniques, he can dominate. Jamal Brown carried a certain amount of baggage with low test scores. Though he might be tougher than Barron, Barron has the better athletic tools and no question was the best pass blocker in the draft. The Ram's have and will continue to pass the ball so Barron could have a great future. He should be the starter at ROT for game one. Ronald Bartell was my favorite Ram pick .As his name was first mentioned many said, oh no another Jacoby Shepherd. A small school nobody, a reach. Well he is just the complete opposite. Bartell is smart , fast, and big. At 6 foot 1, 211 pounds he runs a 4.4 40. With the present chuck rule in the NFL and the height of some of the receivers, Bartell is a solid addition to a good CB crew. He has the ability to be physical at the line of scrimmage, yet also has that extra burst of speed to recover in coverage. With a 35 wonderlic score and solid athleticism, Bartell will make an impact for the team. Atogwe was a good safety in college. Will he develop the cover skills to thrive in the NFL, time will tell. He was rated to go exactly where he went in the draft. The Rams needed safeties to compete for starting positions as well as to perform on special teams . In Atogwe they got just that. Richie Incognito was the third rated OL prospect on the Rams board. He is tough, nasty, and can just plain dominate. He has played guard, tackle, and was being geared for center at Nebraska. What you have in Incognito is the future. He most likely will be on injured reserve this year, but look out for 2006. This pick was just a wise investment into the future. He has first round top ten talent that the organization got in the middle of the third round.
At the end of the second day of the draft, the Rams filled their roster with SS Jerome Carter, G Claude Terrell, TE Jerome Collins, WR Dante Ridgeway, P Reggie Hodges, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the big boy FB Madison Hedge****. Carter is a major hitter. Forget about his coverage skills, he simply brings the wood. If he can stay healthy he will give a physical presence that the Rams haven't had since Toby Wright. Terrell is a big low body run blocker who played four years at New Mexico. What you get here is a durable guard thats perfect for the strong guard position. He has a good chance to make the roster. Jerome Collins is a special teams dynamo. He led Notre Dame in special teams tackles the last two years and that will be his role on the Rams. He could eventually replace Roland Williams as the #2 TE if his blocking improves. Dante Ridgeway is the perfect 2005 possession receiver. While he many only see the ball 15 to 20 times, he certainly has the size and hands to contribute. Expect him to grab the 6th receiver spot from now safety candidate Mike Furrey. Ball State punter Reggie Hodges has the leg to become the starting Ram punter. If nothing else he will provide present punter Kevin Stemke with competition. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should be really just a camp arm and future practice squad QB. Finally, FB Madison Hedge**** 6 foot 3, 257 pounds will battle Joey Goodspeed for the starting FB position. Mostly a blocker in the Ram offense, Hedge**** could surprise everyone in camp an earn the starting position