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Thread: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

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    Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    Plenty of options for Rams at safety

    12 hours ago • By Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197

    MOBILE, ALA. • Craig Dahl is an unresticted free agent and Quintin Mikell is due a $6 million base salary. So it’s possible — some might say likely — that the Rams will have two new starting safeties in 2013.

    Luckily for the Rams or anyone else looking for safety help, it’s considered a deep position in this year’s draft. Kenny Vaccaro of Texas could be at the head the class, but backed out of the Senior Bowl late.

    “I think he knows,” said Russ Lande, the former Rams scout who among other things is a draft analyst for the National Football Post. “I mean everybody has him in the top 10.”

    As is the case with those who don’t work out at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, some of the top prospects skip the Senior Bowl after being advised that they have nothing to gain by participating because of their lofty draft status.

    “He’s a ball-hawking safety that can come up and hit and tackle,” Lande said. “He’s the real deal. I wouldn’t be shocked if Detroit — if there’s no elite pass-rusher there — Detroit at No. 5 (overall) may take him. He’s really good.”

    Vaccaro was a first-team All-American pick by Pro Football Weekly this season, and is a two-time, first-team all-Big 12 pick. He posted a career-high 107 tackles in 2012, but had a modest five career interceptions and never had more than two in any one season.

    Even with Vaccaro and D.J. Swearinger of South Carolina opting out of the Senior Bowl, and underclassmen such as Eric Reid of LSU, Matt Elam of Florida and Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma not allowed to participate, there has been plenty to look at here at safety.

    For starters, there’s name players from name schools, such as Baccari Rambo and Shawn Williams from Georgia, Robert Lester from Alabama and T.J. McDonald from Southern California.

    What better name for a football player than Rambo?

    “It’s all right,” Rambo deadpanned. “I was thinking about changing it. No, I’m just kidding. If I had a quarter for every time somebody mentioned that, I’d be rich right now.”

    At Georgia, Rambo made his name with eight interceptions as a junior in 2011. But he was suspended for the first four games of 2012 for failing a drug test. His high school coach said the positive test was caused by inadvertently eating marijuana brownies.

    Despite his range and athleticism, Rambo (6 feet, 215 pounds) isn’t known as a big hitter or the surest of tacklers.

    “A lot of people question my tackling — like ankle tackling,” Rambo said. “I know a lot of people know I’ve got the ball skills and the instincts. ... I consider myself a ball-hawk.”

    While Rambo wants to show coaches and scouts he can tackle in Saturday’s Senior Bowl game, Alabama’s Lester has been told by them that his coverage skills need work.

    “Definitely playing with a lot more speed, having that explosiveness and quickness to actually stay with those receivers and guys I’m covering,” Lester said. “And I agree 100 percent with them.”

    Lester covered well enough to pick off four passes this season, and his 14 career interceptions ties him for fifth in Crimson Tide history.

    McDonald, the son of former football Cardinals and San Francisco safety Tim McDonald, earned first-team all-American status in 2011. That made him and his father the first father-son team to do so at Southern Cal. But overall, some feel he didn’t play up to expectations in college, and that he lacks aggressiveness.

    Three safeties from lesser-known schools have garnered a lot of attention in Mobile as well. Nevada’s Duke Williams is a ’tweener at 5-11, 201 who some project as a corner. When Nevada went to the nickel package, Williams was moved into the slot position like a cornerback.

    “He’s real smart and he will blow you up,” Lande said. “He will fly up there and smash you.”

    Phillip Thomas of Fresno State is one of the best ball-hawks in the draft. After missing the entire 2011 season because of a broken leg and dislocated ankle, Thomas had eight interceptions to lead the nation and set a Mountain West record. He returned three off those INTs for touchdowns, just one off the NCAA record.

    At the end of the season, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said the defense needed to produce more turnovers, so Thomas (6-0, 210) might be worthy of consideration. Thomas said he actually played up in the box about 60 percent of the time, as opposed to playing center field at free safety.

    But when asked what he does best, he replied: “Play the ball in the air. Definitely. I’m able to get good position. I can move like a corner does and I’m able to open my hips and run and play the ball.”

    Thomas said he needs to work on his open-field tackling, and has been told so by scouts.

    “Just getting to the ballcarrier in open space and being able to take that extra step instead of lunging after him,” Thomas said. “There’s always ways you can work on your game. And that, I feel like I need to work on the most.”

    But the safety who has created the most buzz this week is Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International. He is a thumper. When scouts, coaches and even agents were asked about impressive safeties in Mobile, almost all brought up Cyprien.

    “This kid may be the best of all the safeties (at the Senior Bowl),” Lande said. “He’s one of those guys that flies up field, a little bit like Toby (Wright) used to.”

    Wright was a battering ram of a strong safety for the Rams during their early seasons in St. Louis.

    “But (Cyprien) can gather himself and then make this great tackle,” Lande said. “But when he can’t make the hard hit, he’ll (still) make the tackle. He doesn’t get out of control and miss stuff. He’s natural. He’s smooth deep in coverage. He doesn’t stumble or fall when he’s got to make a quick change of direction.”


  2. #2
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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    Not sure why, but I love me some good safeties. Rambo just seems too perfect for us.
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    Our (lack of) safeties cost us three games this year.

    Jets, Miami and Seattle.

    Sent from my iPhone using Forum Runner
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    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    Vaccaro would be a good get in the first round, but you also have to like the Day Two depth at this position. Swearinger, Rambo, Thomas, Cyprien, McDonald... if the Rams don't get their safety in the first, they should have some opportunities the following day.

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Vaccaro would be a good get in the first round, but you also have to like the Day Two depth at this position. Swearinger, Rambo, Thomas, Cyprien, McDonald... if the Rams don't get their safety in the first, they should have some opportunities the following day.
    Agree, I think Safety is the deepest position in this years draft... maybe even WR. I'm not as sold on Vaccaro and Rambo as a lot of people are (too many bad angles and missed tackles for my liking); I think Cyprien and Phillip Thomas are the best pure safeties in the draft, and I especially love Elam out of Florida.

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    Mcdonald and Elam would make for some nice prospects at the safety position. Also, does anyone know if the play making safety from Ohio State declare?

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    Cyprian all the way.

    Anyone who plays similar to Toby Wright is surely a go get?!

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    I'm praying we take 2 safeties in the first 4 picks.
    (The other two can be OL, DL, LB or WR - I don't care).

    It just seems like with Kap and Wilson's ability to throw deep and extend plays,
    we really, really need ball hawking safeties. Rams seemed to have done OK against the run last year, but as I stated in my earlier post, we had quite a few blown, out-of-position, bad angle, back-breaking pass plays that either extended drives or resulted in a TD.
    Seattle and Jets games are permanently imprinted on my brain, and there may have been some CB culpability - but the fact remains, Rams need SAFETIES!
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    now that i think about it, i'm sure the staff could coach up mcdonald well enough for him to be good, i think he could, but i wish he would wrap up and not take bad angles, especially since i have no idea how he just got bad at taking the right angle this past season

    also...EIGHT HUNDREEEEEEEEEEEEED

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by VegasRam View Post
    I'm praying we take 2 safeties in the first 4 picks.
    (The other two can be OL, DL, LB or WR - I don't care).

    It just seems like with Kap and Wilson's ability to throw deep and extend plays,
    we really, really need ball hawking safeties. Rams seemed to have done OK against the run last year, but as I stated in my earlier post, we had quite a few blown, out-of-position, bad angle, back-breaking pass plays that either extended drives or resulted in a TD.
    Seattle and Jets games are permanently imprinted on my brain, and there may have been some CB culpability - but the fact remains, Rams need SAFETIES!
    I agree with you, I think I even saw a mock draft out there where they had the Rams taking Vaccaro at 16th and Elam at 22nd, which I honestly wouldn't be opposed to

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    I don't know why you would want to replace Craig Dahl with one of these guys, Dahl had more interceptions in the NFL last year than any of them!

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    Re: Plenty Of Options For Rams At Safety

    It's exciting to know -- almost as a cinch and certainty -- that the Rams S position WILL IMPROVE!


    But hey, these rookies need time to develop too! In alpha order...

    * Jonathan Cyprien - Florida Intl. - 6'0 - 190




    * Matt Elam - Florida - 6'0 - 210




    * Josh Evans - Florida - 6'1 - 201




    * Tony Jefferson - Oklahoma - 6'1 - 210




    * Robert Lester - Alabama - 6-2 - 210




    * TJ McDonald - USC - 6'3 - 205




    * Zeke Motta - Notre Dame - 6'2 - 215




    * Bacarri Rambo - Georgia - 6'0 - 211




    * Eric Reid - LSU - 6'1 - 210




    * DJ Swearinger - South Carolina - 6'0 - 210




    * Kenny Tate - Maryland - 6'4 - 220




    * Phillip Thomas - Fresno State - 6'1 - 215




    * Shawn Williams - Georgia - 6'1 - 220




    * Kenny Vaccaro - Texas - 6'1 - 214

    Last edited by RealRam; -01-29-2013 at 11:44 AM. Reason: Format

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