Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Nickís Mailbag Ė Wednesday, March 19, 2008
How many draft picks do the Rams have in this year's draft and how many in each of the seven rounds? Will the Rams be in the Supplemental Draft and if they are, how may draft picks will they get in all and how many in each round? Are the Rams still interested in signing ex-Carolina Panthers center Justin Hartwig to a contract in being the new center for the offensive line for the Rams?
NW: That answer wonít be known until next weekís ownersí meetings when they dish out the supplemental draft picks. Iím assuming youíre referring to supplemental picks and not the supplemental draft. Any team can participate in the supplemental draft, but they must forfeit compensation in the next regular draft to do it. It happens, but not often. As for the supplemental picks, itís always hard to tell what will happen. The highest picks they could get are third rounders and itís not likely they will get those, though stranger things have happened. Remember, those picks are awarded based on what you lost and what you gained in free agency and then how those players performed. For example, Kevin Curtis had a terrific season in Philadelphia while Drew Bennett struggled in St. Louis. That could help garner a supplemental pick, though I would guess it would be something like a fifth rounder at best. The short answer is I can tell you in a couple weeks when the league releases that information.
The Rams had interest in Hartwig but he signed a two-year deal with Pittsburgh earlier this week.
What other players do the Rams plan to get from free agency?
NW: There isnít much left in free agency, Jesse. The Rams are still kicking the tires on some pleayers, such as Kansas City C Casey Wiegmann, Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman (according to my friend Jim Thomas) and then some other free agents of their own. Center Brett Romberg could return for depth.
Nick do you know if the Rams have had any discussions with Casey Wiegmann C for the Kansas City Chiefs? What do you think they will do at this position?
NW: The Rams have interest in Wiegmann but to the best of my knowledge there have been no substantive discussions in that regard. I would have thought they would have made that call by now, but itís possible that Wiegmann could be the type of player who wants to rest and can come in mid way through camp. Clearly, the Rams have to do something at center. I wrote a month or so ago that Mark Setterstrom will get a shot to work at center and that appears to be in the offing. Richie Incognito could also work there depending on which direction the team goes at the top of the draft. Romberg could still be brought back to compete for the job as well and Dustin Fry remains on the roster.
Which has more value on draft day - RB Mike Hart from Michigan or a ham sandwich (with mayo and cheese)?
NW: Let me guess, A.J., youíre an Ohio State fan? Hart was a terrific college player but he doesnít have the measurables and speed to be a top of the line back in the NFL. That doesnít mean he canít be effective in some capacity. You donít have a career like he had at Michigan without having some talent. By no means do I think Hart is going to be a Pro Bowler but he probably has more value than a ham sandwich. Of course, that depends on the quality of the sandwich.
Rams fan stuck in DC here. What is your take on the Rams' offseason thus far? Did the signings of Brown and Bell make this team better and where do you see the team going from here, both in the draft and what's left of free agency?
NW: I think the Rams did very well in finding guys to fill some important needs and boosting some depth. Would I have liked to see a little more, especially after the moves made to clear cap space? Yes, but to overpay for a guy like Bernard Berrian wasnít worth it to them and I donít think anyone would argue that. I like the Bell signing a lot as I believe based on what Iíve seen and what Iíve been told that heís an ascending player who is just going to get better. Still, the Rams have plenty of work to do and they know they need to hit a home run in the draft to get back to being a contender. See above for thoughts on whatís left in free agency. In the draft, the priorities have to be defensive end, offensive tackle, wide receiver and cornerback, I believe in that order. Safety, linebacker and a developmental quarterback fall in after that.
So Hartwig joins the Steelers and Wiegmann is visiting other teams - what does this mean for the Rams' situation at center?
NW: It means the Rams still have a serious need that has to be filled. Even if you believe Setterstrom or Incognito could handle the job, you need to find a veteran with playing experience to step in and provide some leadership in the middle. I wouldnít count out the possibility of Wiegmann just yet and Romberg could be brought back to compete. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.
It's been reported the Brandon Chillar has drawn interest from some other teams and the Rams haven't jumped to re-sign him. If Chillar doesn't return who is your pick to move into the starting strong side linebacker spot - Culberson or Draft? Would the Rams then have to look to the draft for depth at linebacker? Who are some players that could be in the mix for selection outside of round one.
NW: With Chillar on his way to Green Bay, I would think Draft would be the odds on favorite to step in to the starting role, but Culberson would be given a chance to win that job. The Rams were happy with how Culberson handled himself last season, especially in his big opportunity against Arizona in the season finale.
Drafting a linebacker isnít at the top of the needs list, but it is on the list now that Chillar has departed. Addressing that position probably wouldnít come until the later rounds but there are some high energy, effort guys that could provide depth and play special teams out there. Some guys I like include Illinoisí J Leman, Georgiaís Marcus Howard, Nevadaís Ezra Butler and Virginia Techís Vince Hall.
What's happening Nick?
I have a question about our wide receivers. It seems with Bruce gone that our No.1 and No.2 receivers will be Torry Holt and Drew Bennett. I would guess that beyond that it's probably Dante Hall and then some combination of Derek Stanley, Marques Hagans and Dane Looker to round it out.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Rams looked at receivers in the draft, but is it realistic to think that a rookie receiver will been anything better than a fourth option to begin the year? I have seen some discussion among fans that a rookie could come in and really push for a lot of playing time, but I just don't know.
NW: I think you hit the nail on the head, William and for that Iíll be sure to put cover sheets on all of the TPS reports. It isnít often a receiver comes in and has the immediate impact that fans want. In fact, other than quarterback, I would argue receivers have the most difficult transition to make to the NFL level. The only slight disagreement I would have is that rookie receiver X would be no better than the fourth option. I think if said rookie is capable of playing in the slot, the transition is a tad easier and could be a No. 3. I think thatís what the Rams will be looking for with the hopes that Drew Bennett steps up as the No. 2. I would expect the Rams to address receiver as soon as round No. 2.
Hey Nick, I have a scenario for you. Lets say that the Rams decide to move down (or don't for that matter) and Pick a defensive prospect. But, for some reason, another prospect falls on the board (think Brady Quinn). Would the Rams go for it and trade to picks to get him? What I am saying is, suppose they pick Vernon Gholston, and Sedrick Ellis falls down the board for some reason. Would they go for it if they had the chance?
Also, do you know anything about the possibility of adding Lito Sheppard? I've heard some rumors but I don't know if they are true.
NW: Eric, you bring up an interesting scenario. Itís hard to speak to that, but thereís no doubt the Rams want to hit a home run in this draft. I canít answer definitively what they would do if such a scenario came up, but they will explore all options. The one thing they wonít do is mortgage the future to try to get a quick fix. Letís say, using your example, that they grab a Chris Long or Gholston and someone like Ellis falls. He would have to fall deep into the first for that to be a consideration. To move back high into the first round, youíre giving up a lot. Of course, to get back into the first round you usually have to give up the next seasonís first round choice. At that point, you have to decide the player you are going after is going to be more valuable for your team than another (potentially higher) pick in the next draft.
The Rams and just about everyone else in the league has interest in Sheppard. The market has defined itself after DeAngelo Hall was dealt to Oakland for a second round pick. Thatís probably the going rate and itís a steep price for the Rams considering their first round pick this year is almost as good as a first rounder. If the price comes as a three, they should jump all over it.
I saw your video mock draft on nfl.com where you selected Jake Long for the Rams with the No. 2 pick. Your reasoning made sense, but donít you agree we need help at defensive end more? Also, I know there are a lot of smoke screens out there this time of year, is it possible the Rams are sending out interest in Long to try to get Kansas City or someone like that to move up?
NW: Ryan, when I filmed that we did it like a mock draft. So, a writer from Miami took Chris Long with the first pick and then I had to make the decision for who I believe would make the most sense there. Essentially, that leaves a choice between Jake Long and Vernon Gholston. The Rams like Gholston a lot, he might have the most upside of any player in the draft, but Iím just not sure heís worth the No. 2 pick in the draft. I wasnít allowed to give trade down and draft Gholston as an answer so I went with Jake Long over Glenn Dorsey in that spot. While the Rams helped solidify the line by signing Bell, adding Long makes sense now and for the future. This team will need a starting tackle within the next three years and Long can step in and start at guard right away. To me, he makes the most sense under the following two conditions: Chris Long is off the board and a trade down is not possible.
Itís almost impossible to tell whatís a smoke screen and what isnít this time of year. Iím almost of the belief that the smartest thing a team can do now is tell the world exactly who they want to pick because nobody seems to believe them any way. I will say I believe interest in both Longs, Gholston and Dorsey is very real on behalf of the Rams. The Rams had heavy attendance at Gholston and the Longs pro days, a sure sign that interest is legitimate. Scott Linehan and Co. attended Chris Long's Pro Day in Virginia yesterday and it appears all of those players have been asked to visit St. Louis for pre-draft tours.