Rams Catch Draft
Monday, March 19, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
Maybe he doesn’t come with the panache of Will Witherspoon, but Chris Draft was almost as productive last season for Carolina as his predecessor.
On Monday evening, Draft decided to follow in Witherspoon’s footsteps again by agreeing to a three-year contract with the Rams about a year after Witherspoon signed his lucrative deal with the team.
Draft comes to St. Louis from the Panthers with any number of possibilities for his role. That role probably won’t be defined right away, but Draft is capable of playing any of the three linebacker positions and contributing on special teams.
After Witherspoon’s departure for St. Louis last year, Draft stepped in and started all 16 games in a role similar to what Witherspoon’s was in his final season in Carolina. Draft started out in Witherspoon’s former position, weakside linebacker for the first two starts of the season. He then replaced middle linebacker Dan Morgan for the final 14 games when Morgan was lost to an injury.
Even while playing musical linebackers, Draft managed to have his finest NFL season, racking up 111 tackles and a career high 5.5 sacks. And Draft made a good impression on the Rams coaching staff in the team’s meeting with Carolina on Nov. 19 when he posted five tackles and a sack and a half in the Panthers’ victory.
For the Rams, it isn’t quite clear what position Draft will play, but at 5’11, 232 pounds, Draft has a stocky build that would allow him to play any position. As it stands, the Rams only have Witherspoon, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Tim McGarigle and Jon Alston under contract at the position. Brandon Chillar is also expected back after receiving his restricted free agent tender offer earlier this week.
It seems natural that Draft would at the least be considered depth for the weakside and middle linebacker spots, but he could also compete with Chillar for the strong side job. Tinoisamoa missed five games last year with a variety of injuries and played hurt for most of the season.
The Rams parted ways just days before free agency with veteran Dexter Coakley. Although the team expressed interest in bringing him back at a reduced rate, the signing of Draft could preclude that.
Draft was Chicago’s sixth-round choice in 1998 before spending time in San Francisco, Atlanta and Carolina. His most regular role came as a Falcon where he had one of his best seasons in 2003. For his career, Draft has posted 540 tackles with 14 sacks and four interceptions.
Draft visited Tampa Bay late last week and also visited the Saints, but decided that St. Louis was the best fit after a two-day visit that began last Wednesday.
In addition, the team agreed with defensive back Mike Rumph on a one-year contract. Rams fans probably remember Rumph best from his four seasons with San Francisco. Rumph can play cornerback or safety, but is likely to compete for a depth position at corner. In his five seasons, Rumph has 138 tackles, three interceptions and a pair of sacks.
Re: Rams Catch Draft
At the WORSE this guy provides great depth.