Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Nickís Mailbag ĖApril 23, 2008
In honor of the upcoming draft, today we bring you an expanded version of Nickís Mailbag to get your ready for the NFL Draft.
Check back starting Thursday and all weekend for live draft coverage from Senior Writer Nick Wagoner in New York City .
With the signing today of Jake Long, we are now on the clock. My question to you is this, Dorsey or Long, who are they leaning toward? Watching both its obvious that they are high caliber, impact kind of guys and both will be day one starters. But our lack of pass rush eventually made it so teams could run up and down the field on us, not to mention that our sack numbers last year were horrible despite our new found urge to send a ton of people on blitzes. So is Chris the pick here? I hope so; honestly we donít only get one pass rusher you get two. With pressure coming from the right side of the pocket it spreads out that front and will make Leonard the beast he once was.
NW: That appears to be the choice that it will come down to. From all indications, Dorsey is slightly ahead of Long on the board and they are leaning in that direction. Many believe Dorsey is the best player in the draft and will be the biggest difference maker when all is said and done. But Long fills a bigger positional need while he still could be a star. Long is as technically sound as it gets and one team official believes he is the best pass rusher in the draft, but Dorsey could change so many things about the way the defense operates. If you ask me today, I say Dorsey is in the lead, but that could certainly change this week.
How many time outs do you get in a game and do you have to use them?
NW: Ah, a logistical question. A nice break from all of the draft stuff. You get three timeouts per half and are not obligated to use all of them.
Nick, will the Rams get anymore additional draft picks before the 2008 NFL Draft on April 26 & 27 plus if so, how many? Also, will the Rams sign anymore unrestricted free agents for offense & defense before or after the draft?
NW: The Rams are set with nine picks right now, barring an unforeseen trade that is how it will stay. Thereís a chance the Rams could add another veteran or two for depth after the draft, but there are no more major moves to be made.
Is it me or are the Rams reconstructing a new FEARSOME FOURSOME? As a long time Ram fan that saw the real FF play back in the Coliseum, it would be fantastic to see that again. Chris Long is just too talented and smart to pass up. Yes, we had problems at the OL position last year, but common sense tells us that it was a fluke to have all of your starting line on the injured reserve. I would give anything to see Little, Carriker, Ryan, and Long rush opposing QB's.
NW: You just might get your wish, Terry. I donít want to partake in the hyperbole of a new fearsome foursome, but adding Chris Long to the defensive line certainly gives you three young pieces in Ryan, Carriker and Long that would be an outstanding jumping off point for a young, talented defensive line.
It seems as if Gholston and Chris Long are what the Rams are deciding over for the number two pick. Which player do the Rams think higher of and which one will they choose?
NW: You missed Dorsey, but it should be noted that Gholston is still in this. I get the sense that heís a smidgeon behind the other two, but he is still in play here. I would say the Rams think more highly of Long than Gholston at this point, but there are some in the organization who like Gholstonís upside more.
What are they chances the Rams pick up Lito Sheppard on draft day somehow? Also, do you think the rams are going to give up their first round pick to the Saints? In my opinion this would not be a smart move because obviously they need a playmaker besides the ones they have and may not get a big enough presence without choosing someone in the first five picks. Thanks for answering.
NW: The Lito Sheppard talks havenít progressed past preliminary stages and with the news that Fakhir Brown will be in the fold (most likely) when the season starts, the need at cornerback isnít as great. That doesnít mean the team wonít look for help in the secondary in the draft, but thereís a chance that help will come in the form of a young safety rather than a cornerback.
I think thereís almost zero chance the Rams would move down with the Saints unless New Orleans offered a substantial player in addition to the draft pick. Say they threw DE Will Smith and the No. 10 at the Rams for that pick, thatís a trade you have to consider. But it doesnít sound like the Saints are going to go that crazy to move up for Dorsey. Anything other than that doesnít make much sense. The Rams MUST get a difference maker in this draft and if they drop too far, itís less likely they get one. They know that so any trade made probably wonít drop them past No. 5 or so.
What do you think the chances are that the Rams will pick Chris Long?
NW: The chances are pretty good. At this point, it looks like Dorsey is in the lead but thereís a possibility that Long will emerge in the coming days as the choice. Thereís also the possibility that the Rams could move back a slot or two and grab Long.
Now that the NFL schedule has been officially released, what are your feelings about their first seven games? Also, can you give a prediction on how much the Rams will miss Isaac Bruce who to me was the cornerstone of this organization?
NW: Obviously, those first seven games could potentially be absolutely brutal. On paper, itís going to be a tough way to start. But personally, I think itís an exciting challenge and slate that could be very entertaining. I donít like to get into marking Wís and Lís on a schedule when it first comes out. Iíll give you a quick example. When last yearís schedule came out, many were quick to mark the Ramsí game against Cleveland as a ďW.Ē The Browns ended up having one of the best offenses in the league and went 10-6. Thereís just no way to know in April how any team in the league would fit in.
I think everyone will miss Isaac Bruce. I donít know if you canít quantify it in numbers, but the leadership and what he meant to the organization through the years will make him very difficult to replace. Clearly, he was a great player and an even better person. The organization is better for having had him around 14 years.
My real question is around our WR's. Kind of a strange year being without Bruce but Holt and Bennett will be excellent. Do you think that Saunders will consider using Hagans in a similar way that New England uses Welker? Seems like we should let Hagan's make more plays for us in 2008. He seems to be dangerous every time he touches the ball. What are your thoughts?
NW: Thereís no doubt the team is looking for a slot receiver to complement Holt and Bennett. Whether that wide out is a small, speedy type or a big, yards after the catch type remains to be seen. Hagans could be a candidate for that role, but the team has high hopes for young Derek Stanley and others such as Reche Caldwell and Dane Looker figure into the mix as well. In some ways, Stanley passed Hagans last year so Hagans will need a big camp to solidify his spot.
Nick, apparently there was speculation that Fakhir Brown "dodged a bullet" and will play for the rams in '08. Then a couple of message boards posted that you said he has a 4 game suspension. How could that be? He already had a 4 game. Another suspension would be longer, no?
NW: Don, I know exactly what you are referring to and allow me to explain. Fakhir Brown is indeed off the hook for 2008 as we sit here today. I filmed a segment for NFL Network last week and was asked about Brownís ďfour game suspension.Ē I quickly pointed out that he served a four game suspension LAST season and that he was one more suspension away from a full season suspension. Iíve been known to misspeak or mess up before, but in this case, Iím pointing the finger elsewhere. Thanks for keeping me honest.
Nick, Will Anthony Becht be used as an additional lineman or will he be utilized in the passing game? He has a great set of hands and would be an asset if used properly.
NW: Good question, David. I think Becht is one of the more overlooked signings of the offseason. Heís a solid veteran with outstanding blocking ability. In the immediate future, I would expect him to work in the role as the blocking tight end with a few chances to chip in as a pass catcher. But more important, having him around to block should allow Randy McMichael to do more of what he does best, catch the ball and make plays in the middle of the field.
Nick, the Rams need a wide out. Is it possible to get a good one at the beginning of Round 2, or could they use that pick for some bait. Since there is only 31 picks in round one, it's almost like another 1st rounder.
NW: Thereís no doubt that wide receiver is one of the top priorities for this team in this draft. The problem is which direction you go at that spot. The receivers in this class are so so. Thereís not one that stands above the rest and there could only be one or two taken in round one. If thatís the case, the Rams will nearly have their pick of the litter at the spot. I expect Michigan State ís Devin Thomas and Oklahoma ís Malcolm Kelly to be off the board. If one of them falls, itís a slam dunk to grab them at that spot. Beyond that, someone such as LSUís Early Doucet, Texas í Limas Sweed , Indiana ís James Hardy and maybe Cal ís DeSean Jackson are among the names who could be in play there. Beyond that, the Rams probably wouldnít move on a receiver until the third round.
Nick, Are the coaches pleased with the attendance at the off-season program? There has been some word that A. Barron has not been there that much. Does he work out on his own? Also, has D. Byrd been there? You have to wonder where his head is at. Lastly, is the website doing anything special to cover the draft? Thanks a lot for your time.
NW: Thanks for the questions, David.
I think the coaches are very pleased with the attendance at the offseason program. Most of the players are attending and working hard. Itís an important offseason, especially for the offensive players to begin learning the system. There have been a few players that havenít been here or have been here sparingly, but overall attendance has been good. Interestingly, more and more coaches care less about the attendance here because so many players have personal trainers and their own ideas on how to train. I heard a story that in Joe Gibbsí final offseason in Washington he was close to canceling the offseason program altogether because he was so tired of dealing with whoís there and who isnít.
Barron hasnít been here much but sources close to him tell me that he is actually working out hard off site and has added some bulk and strength to his upper body. This is a big season for Barron so if thatís true, that could be great news for the Rams and his future.
Byrd has indeed been a regular at the offseason program. For obvious reasons, this is an important offseason for him whether he will be here or not next season he needs to be able to prove himself to the Rams or a potential next destination.
Glad you asked about the website doing anything special from the draft. In fact, we have a lot of cool stuff planned for this weekend. I will be leaving for New York City tomorrow morning to cover the draft live from Radio City Music Hall . In addition, I will be bringing back Nickís Notes blog for the weekend and attending the draft luncheon tomorrow afternoon. There, I will be speaking with Dorsey, Chris Long and Gholston at length and getting a fresh take on what they are hearing about St. Louis as a possible destination. Also, Staff Writer Brett Grassmuck will be here in St. Louis covering all of the action from the second round as well as providing up to date photos and video to supplement all of our coverage.
What are the chances that if we take Glenn Dorsey with the 2nd pick in the draft that we install him as the starting nose tackle and then slide Adam Carriker back to his more "natural" position at DE where he played at Nebraska and have Clifton Ryan at the other DT spot and start a bit of a youth movement along the defensive line? I'm sure that Jim Haslett must be foaming at the mouth to have that kind of D- line.
NW: Mark, I think you may be a bit confused on the positional breakdown that would occur in this scenario. Dorsey will almost certainly be a ďthree techniqueĒ tackle for the Rams should they opt to select him. Carriker would then work as a nose tackle and potentially at end in running situations. Thereís a misconception out there that Carriker is a slam dunk to move back to end if Dorsey is the choice. Itís a possibility and a good one that he would be back in the mix outside should Dorsey come in but it doesnít mean heís going to be out there expected to rush the passer from the edge. I think you would see something like this should Dorsey be the pickÖRunning situations: DEís Leonard Little, Carriker, DTís Dorsey and Ryan. Passing situations: DEís Little and James Hall, DTís Dorsey and Carriker. Of course, Glover still figures into the mix, especially on passing downs and Claude Wroten will get a final chance to prove himself. Admittedly, thatís speculation, but itís informed speculation based on some conversations Iíve had.
Do You Think That The Rams Could Possibly Pick Up James Laurinaitis In The Second Round, I Mean A Great Young Linebacker And He Could Definitely Help Us. I Don't Know Why I Haven't Seen Him "Up There" On Mock Drafts-But I'm Not Complaining Cause We Could Definitely Steal Him. What Do You Think Nick?
NW: Scott, the reason you havenít heard anything about him is because heís a junior at Ohio State and opted to return for his senior season. He will be a highly thought of selection in next yearís NFL Draft.
Obviously I am not Bill Devaney, or Scott Linehan, but to revamp this franchise and get die-hard Rams fans back into excitement. Why would Vernon Gholston not be the logical choice at #2? In the 2nd round I say pick the best available WR available, maybe a Limas Sweed or Mario Manningham, despite the poor combines. 3rd rd go with the ASU Safety Josh Barrett.
NW: Lots of scenarios out there, Jason. Gholston is still in play for the No. 2 pick, but hereís the issue. He has a tendency to take some plays off and isnít the best at getting off blocks. Donít get me wrong, heís a high level prospect with a lot of potential but Dorsey and Chris Long are more polished and likely to perform at a high level.
As I said above, receiver is a good possibility in the second round but I wouldnít count on Manningham. Way too many question marks in his past and his personality. Sweed is a possibility.
Safety didnít seem to be a top priority for the team but recent information Iíve received makes it sound like the Rams might turn their attention away from cornerback and in that direction. The Rams will come out of this draft with at least one defensive back, but itís unclear which position that will be.
Hey Nick I have a great idea how about moving Adam Carriker back to DE and drafting Glenn Dorsey and keep Dorsey at DT. Adam could have been great as the right DE. Help me understand why they made this change?
NW: Iím kind of unclear on what you mean by change. Carriker played all three positions on the line last year and acquitted himself well at all of those spots. They can put him anywhere and he will be at worst solid and at best dominant. Carriker isnít a dominant pass rusher off the edge, but his motor and strength could lead to six-eight sacks as an end. One thing I can guarantee, if you have Dorsey and Carriker on the field at the same time, opponents are going to have trouble running the football.
The Rams need another wide receiver for 2008; do you think they should use that second overall pick in the draft to find one?
NW: See answers above.
On the nfl.com mock draft you selected Jake Long. If they started that draft all over again and Jake Long went #1 overall, who would you have selected for the Rams at #2?
NW: Obviously, Jake Long is now a Dolphin. As I wrote above, itís a close call between Chris Long and Dorsey and Gholston is still in the mix. Indications are that Dorsey is slightly ahead. My personal preference is Long but I donít think the Rams can go wrong with either of those players.
I was wondering what the Rams are planning to do at quarterback as Marc Bulger isn't getting any younger and they don't have any projects on the roster. Basically I am wondering if the Rams will address this need in the draft or possibly in free agency to go out and find a younger quarterback to develop or a somewhat young quarterback to move into the position rather soon?
NW: Thereís a definite interest in picking up a young quarterback and Scott Linehan has made it known the team will carry three quarterbacks next season. I wouldnít expect the Rams to make a move on a signal caller until the fourth round at the earliest but they will emerge from the weekend with a quarterback. Some later round options include San Diego State ís Kevin OíConnell, USCís John David Booty, LSUís Matt Flynn and Tennessee ís Erik Ainge.
Thanks for all of the questions this week. Be sure to stay tuned to stlouisrams.com all weekend for live coverage from New York City and the Russell Training Center.