Plenty to Prove for Bartell
By Nick Wagoner
When the Rams selected defensive back Ronald Bartell in the second round (No. 50 overall), many draft pundits were surprised. Some even went as far as calling the selection a reach, insinuating that St. Louis could have grabbed Bartell later in the draft.
Of course, nobody was more surprised than Bartell. But Bartell’s surprise was for a different reason than what the so-called draft experts thought.
“I was getting nervous,” Bartell said. “I thought I would have been drafted sooner. It’s better late than never.”
So while some onlookers saw Bartell as a reach, he thought he was waiting longer to hear his name than he should have. Such is the personality of the even-keeled, but ultra-confident young defensive back.
One look at Bartell and his physical performance would certainly yield at least a second-round choice. For a cornerback or safety, Bartell is tall (6’1), strong (bench press of 345 pounds), fast (4.37 in the 40-yard dash) and intelligent (made the Academic Honor roll four times in high school).
It was for many of those reasons that the Rams selected Bartell.
“Our scouts, particularly our defensive staff had very strong opinions about Ron and how he fits in to our defense,” coach Mike Martz said. “Everything is there in terms of having terrific potential.
All of those accomplishments and intangibles would normally be more than enough to land Bartell a spot early on the first day of the draft. However, the only thing wrong with his resume appeared to be the name next to college attended.
Bartell didn’t play for a Florida State or USC; instead he spent time at two schools, neither a traditional power. Bartell began his career at Central Michigan, playing both safety spots and spending some time at cornerback. He transferred to Howard in 2003, where he spent the majority of his time at corner.
It was no doubt his collegiate resume that had many of the draft forecasters screaming reach on the day of the draft.
Bartell is OK with that, though, as he used the fact that he played for a smaller school as motivation to get noticed by the NFL. He knows that he needs some work on technique and skill refinement, but he says that is only normal.
“I think it’s going to just as tough to adjust as if I was coming from a I-A school,” Bartell said. “No one is a finished product; one would hope that a player continues to get better. It’s going to be tough. I am going to take my lumps, but I am going to get better.”
That attitude no doubt was appealing to the Rams’ coaching staff when evaluating Bartell. On his pre-draft visit to Rams Park, Bartell impressed the organization enough to get a pre-draft promise that if he were still available in the second round that St. Louis would use its selection on him.
Good to its word, the Rams picked Bartell without reservation. Now, figuring out where Bartell will contribute is a different matter. Since he spent most of his college career bouncing between cornerback and safety, it is difficult to discern where he might work his way into the rotation.
With most of his final years in college coming at cornerback, it is likely that Bartell will start there. However, he spent time at cornerback and safety during the mini-camp and figures to get opportunities to prove himself at both positions.
Either way, Martz is excited about the possibilities that Bartell brings.
“We feel good about his ability to stay outside,” Martz said. “I feel certain he can go inside and play a significant free safety. We have seen him in that capacity. At worst, I think you could use him in the nickel package and in the slot.”
Assuming Bartell stays at cornerback through training camp, he should get plenty of chances to prove himself in the nickel and slot. With the return of starters Jerametrius Butler and Travis Fisher at cornerback, Bartell has little chance of cracking the starting defense right away. While there is some uncertainty at safety, Bartell figures to have a better chance of playing in nickel and dime situations.
The competition in the defensive backfield will be plentiful, though. Aside from Butler and Fisher, Bartell will have to deal with DeJuan Groce, Michael Hawthorne, Kevin Garrett, Dwight Anderson, Terry Fair and Corey Ivy for playing time.
How well Bartell adjusts to the NFL and refines his technique as well as his ability to help on special teams will determine how much he plays right away.
“I am not even worried about it,” Bartell said. “I am going to go out and compete and the best man will win. I’m not going to worry about the competition. I am willing to do any and everything to help this team win.”
Certainly, though, the desire to get on the field and make an impact is appealing to Bartell, especially if it means the chance to prove his doubters wrong.
Bartell said he will remember everything written and said by the media and draftniks as a way of inspiration.
"The media thinks one thing and the coaches think another,” Bartell said. “It means I have respect from the coaches. It wasn’t a big surprise to me. It puts a little of a chip on my shoulder. I already had a chip coming from a small school and people doubting me. It’s a little bit of motivation.”
Re: Plenty to Prove for Bartell
I love the attitude. I have full faith in the pick. We drafted what we needed and i wont second guess no matter how it turns out by substituting the judgement of people like mel kipper jr. for charley and martz. By the way, the size, speed and bench press are about the same numbers as those posted by Avenger two months ago.
ramming speed to all
Re: Plenty to Prove for Bartell
Should have realized that the negative press he was receiving came from the many Rams detractors in the media world.Why do they hate the Rams? and why were they so thrilled that the Rams lost SB 36? It could be the hollywood elite are still pissed that the Rams left L.A.