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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    By Bernie Miklasz
    04/27/2008 8:54 pm

    Good (Sunday) evening…

    I’ve never understood why fans of a team worry about what some ESPN or NFL Network say in declaring instant judgment on that team’s draft.

    Of all the foolish things in sports, one of silliest are these immediate report cards that pop up only hours after the NFL completes its annual draft. And worse than that, some fans want to believe that an instant draft grade is the end all in determining success or failure. They get outraged for no reason… or celebrate … for no logical reason.

    Sorry — I’m gonna watch the kids play for a year or two, and then we can talk about grades.

    No one has flunked yet. No one has made the Dean’s list.

    No one has even put a helmet on yet, for cripe’s sake.

    How the heck does anyone know about the quality of the Rams draft when the players haven’t signed, haven’t been fitted for a uniform, haven’t practiced, haven’t made the team, haven’t played in a real game, haven’t gone through an entire season?

    What’s the point?

    It was crazy to see the hysterical reaction Saturday when the Rams drafteHouston wide receiver Donnie Avery in the second round. You’d think that the team had drafted Clyde Duncan, or something. Why? Because Mel Kiper said taking Avery at No. 33 was a reach. Therefore, gullible fans believed it to be true. Other draft services had good marks on Avery, but since Mel is a celebrity draftnik, and he’s on TV, well it means that everything must be as he says it is … right? TV is the God of a dumbed-down culture.

    Meanwhile, a hard-working draft guy like Russ Lande Jr. of The Sporting News’ “War Room” had it scoped out ahead of time. Lande, a former NFL scout, is on the phone a lot, working the GMs and scouts and personnel people. And on April 24, Lande wrote that there was a lot of buzz about Avery, and that he was moving up the charts, and was into the second round, and could even get into the first round. In other words, Lande had it figured out. He wasn’t caught off guard, the way some of the other so-called experts were. And just because other so-called experts failed to detect Avery’s huge upward move on NFL draft boards, that doesn’t mean the Rams were wrong to draft him. I’m not saying Lande is right about Avery, either. But at least I know the guy was doing his homework up until the draft started.

    I have no idea if Avery will be a bust, or a star.

    But I can see at least why the Rams viewed Avery as a fit.

    The Rams wideouts were slow last year — and this kid has great speed.

    The Rams wideouts got few yards after the catch last season — and Avery got good marks for his runs after the catch. (By the way, for the naysayers who point out that Avery played in a non BCS Conference, therefore his yards after the catch don’t mean much because they came against weaker competition. Really? Last season, among the top 15 wideouts in the NFL in yards after the catch, you could find players from Western Michigan (Greg Jennings), Northwest Oklahoma State (Patrick Crayton), Alabama-Birmingham (Roddy White), Central Florida (Brandon Marshall), Alcorn State (Donald Driver) and Utah (Steve Smith).

    New offensive coordinator Al Saunders wanted vertical speed, which the Rams lack — and Avery has it.

    Saunders wanted a WR he could put in the slot, and force the DBs to account for his great downfield speed — instead of safeties cheating up to stop the run or take away the intermediate pass routes.

    The great Henry Ellard (Rams receivers coach) gave Avery a high grade.

    So why in the world would anyone get their pants bunched up because Mel Kiper didn’t like the pick? The same fans who were throwing tantrums last year when Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce and Drew Bennett would make a catch and fall down are among the same people now snarling about the Rams drafting a 4.29 speed guy with a history of production, and an ability to make things happen after the catch.

    I also laughed at those who declared that Avery would have been there in the third round.

    Not a chance.

    There was a wild run on wideouts in the second round… 10 wideouts went off the board in round two. And if the Rams hadn’t popped Avery at No. 33 overall, there is no way he would have lasted the rest of the round. He would have been long gone; someone would have taken a chance on that speed.

    Again: this doesn’t mean Avery will be just what the Rams need. All of these WRs had flaws in some way; that’s why none were taken in the first round. Still, there’s no question that Avery brings an interesting mix to the field.

    I also went back to read what draftniks had to say after the 1994 draft, when the Rams chose a WR in the second round, and No. 33. Just like Avery. And their choice of that wideout was largely panned as a “reach.”

    The receiver’s name?

    Isaac Bruce.

    Look, the Rams haven’t had a great recent draft history… which is why they recruited Billy Devaney to run things, and this was his first draft. Maybe this draft will stink in a couple of years. Maybe it will look great in two years. But for now it appears that the Rams landed a winner in Chris Long and a potential game-changer in Avery. They tried to add depth at the OL. They added another receiver, Keenan Burton, which really gives the team a chance to freshen up a tired WR group. Didn’t we all agree they needed some younger, faster legs at WR?

    Will these new Rams pay off, or will they fade away?

    I have no idea. Neither does Kiper or anyone else.

    Let the players play.

    And we’ll watch.

    And then we’ll know.

    And in a couple of years, we can bring out the damned report cards.

    Thanks for reading…

    –B


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    I disagree with Bernie a fair bit. I don't do it out of principle, I do it because I genuinely believe he's wrong.

    He's not here though.

    I think that he's absolutely right in everything that he said.

    I missed most of the draft for a variety of reasons but logged on on sunday night to find most people talking about our second round pick, Donnie Avery. Most of the criticsm revolved around him '...being taken too high...' as he '...would definitely have been available later.'

    What complete tosh.

    These judgements are based primarily on the ratings assigned to them by various 'experts' rather than any direct experience of the player himself or the players against which he's being measured. In addition, the judgements made by these 'experts' whilst more informed than the opinion of many of the people here on these boards, are no less subjective. If they were'nt subjective then there would be such a thing as a 'Can't miss prospect'. As we are the franchise that drafted such luminaries as Trung Canidate, Eric Crouch, Damione Lewis, Jimmy Kennedy, Travis Scott, Jacoby Shepherd and last but not least Donald Evans, I'd say we're pretty well-placed to debunk that particular notion.

    Busts one and all.

    As we're on the subject of busts, we should also mention Lawrence Philips, not only because of his spectacular implosion but because of the reason for it.

    Character.

    This opens up another option for those who would seek to defend the Avery pick should they feel the need. Its been made perfectly clear that where there were the slighest hint of character concerns then the player involved would drop down if not off the board. So as well as Avery possessing the outstanding and uncoachable commodity of world-class speed, we also have to factor in the fact that he demonstrated a mature attitude to work and play over and above others at the position.

    My wife (bless her) manages to get me one of Lindy's pre-draft guides on one of her latest business jaunts to NY. It had Avery ranked 9th amongst his positional peers and worthy of selection in the 2nd round. Hardly a bible but useful nonetheless, I didn't accord it any more weight than other sources but it was interesting to see that Ali Highsmith and Erin Henderson amongst others who rated very highly weren't even drafted whilst players ranked far below them went across the rounds.

    Subjective then?

    Absolutely.

    It all comes down to team need and individual feel for a player and so its not very useful in my opinion for a variety of reasons some of which mentioned above, to put too much stock in the pre-draft hype.

    I think that the Rams drafted very well this year, one of the best drafts I think we've had for some time. We got undoubted talent, we got value, we got depth at need positions and we got character in spades. I can't rate Chris Long highly enough in that regard and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he'll do for the team over the next 5-6 years.

    I was disappointed we didn't get a linbacker in the first 3 rounds and I think that Brandon McAnderson (#8 in Lindy's guide btw ) is a belated effort to cover over the folly of releasing Hedgecock, but I'm very happy with our picks.

    But then that's just my opinion and its worth as much to me as anyone else's.

    Lets give it three years to find out where we're at.
    Last edited by Fat Pang; -04-28-2008 at 09:30 AM.

  3. #3
    Ramer's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    Fat Pang, I couldn't agree with you more. I think this was one of our best drafts in a long time. I was one of those who orginally thought Avery was taken way too early. But the more I read on the kid, I am really excited we took him with our 2nd pick.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    I agree with Bernie. Can't tell yet.

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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    So we are not allowed to give a grade? Because Bernie says so? It is possible to rate a draft on draft day, after a year, and after 15 years. "For Cripes Sake" "gullible fans" Bernie is trying to deflect from his pre-draft promise that we were taking Dorsey. Bernie is a jack-ass.

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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    I also agree with Bernie. We can grad these players based on their college play, but they are now playing in the NFL.

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    I think Bernie did an absolute horrible job in handling the Fakhir Brown situation. For this, I blast him.
    I think Bernie has a little egg on his face for the "Dorsey is the pick" info at the end of last week. For this, I have to chuckle at him.

    So when he puts together an article that I agree with, I feel a need to at least say so. I wholeheartedly agree with this article. The draftniks have to be "experts" on the needs of 32 different teams; whereas, the Rams only need be experts on the Rams. Also, prospect rankings are not universal. One player may be an A in a particular system, but a C in another. And if Avery is the best receiver on the board according to Saunders/Ellard/Scouting Dept., then so be it.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    See guys, Bernie isn't so bad...



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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    See guys, Bernie isn't so bad...


    Oh no, he IS that bad. But the blind squirell stumbled across an acorn.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    Bernie is just being Bernie.

    Everyone loves the Chris Long pick, so what does he do? He mocks the team for having "hearts a flutter" and "man love" for him. He says its more about the person than the player.

    Then, on the Avery pick, there's a vocal contingent of fans who don't like the pick, so he mocks them as well.

    So, whether he's right or wrong on his assessments, you can always count on Bernie to be a holier-than-thou condescending know-it-all.

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Oh no, he IS that bad. But the blind squirell stumbled across an acorn.


    Yeah, that just about covers it.

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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    You can definately grade a team on whether or not they addressed their most pressing needs and the Rams missed out on a few. I really think they made a huge mistake not taking a safety or linebacker earlier. As for whether or not the Rams "reached" on some of those picks- that's debateable and certainly every fan or analysist has the right to voice their opinion in that respect- it's up to the reader whether or not they want to discount it.

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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    I really think they made a huge mistake not taking a safety or linebacker earlier
    Tino,Spoon,Draft,Culberson

    When should we have picked a LB and who was on the board at the time?

    We had too get a DE,WR, and we needed OL help. I did not see a LB that we could have picked that would start over these four.

    Next year LB and SS will be must haves IMO.

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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Tino,Spoon,Draft,Culberson

    When should we have picked a LB and who was on the board at the time?

    We had too get a DE,WR, and we needed OL help. I did not see a LB that we could have picked that would start over these four.

    Next year LB and SS will be must haves IMO.

    There were definately safeties worth taking and we instead went OL or WR. SS was definately a need this year- we have Chavous who is in the twilight of his career and really nothing behind him. Did we really need to take that CB with questionable coverage skills and tackling ability when we really needed a safety?

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    Re: Rams Draft: Throw Away the Report Cards

    I think Russ Lande is a better evaluator of NFL talent than Mel Kiper is. Have you ever seen one of Lande's draft guides? It goes into much, much more detail than any other I've seen. He really does the research. Too bad he didn't put one out this year.
    The other thing regarding Avery is, if you read Kiper's write up on each of the WR's, Avery actually sounded like the best receiver available, or at least one of the best. Yet Kiper had him ranked 12th. Go figure.

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