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  1. #1
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    Rams Needs Meet Value

    Rams Needs Meet Value
    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    In a draft that was as top heavy as any in recent years, the Rams weren’t close enough to the top to land one of the coveted seven or eight players at the apex of their board.

    Sitting at No. 11 with the jewels of the draft long gone, the Rams decided to move back in the draft and grab a player they coveted at the 11th spot with the 15th pick in the draft.

    After going through the first 10 picks with a few surprises, but no trades, the Rams and Denver struck a deal. That trade involved the Broncos sending the 15th pick and their first third-round pick (No. 68 overall) to the Rams for the 11th pick overall.

    Denver promptly drafted Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler and the Rams waited four more choices to make Clemson cornerback Tye Hill their first-round selection.

    Hill was rated by many as the best pure cover cornerback in the draft, though he was behind Texas’ Michael Huff for the position of best defensive back in the draft.

    After a strong push from defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, coach Scott Linehan said it was clear that Hill was the choice.

    “I think we had (Michael) Huff and (Tye) Hill right there,” Linehan said. “We would have been happy to have a shot at either one, but we were in a position where we made a trade with Denver and moved back four spots. For us, you’re always excited about trade working out. Really, we were in position there where if it didn’t happen, that was our player at 11.”

    The Rams wavered until draft day on who their selection would be up until the picks in front of them fell favorably. After Buffalo surprised many by grabbing Ohio State safety Donte Whitner at No. 8, it became clear the Rams would have a decision to make from amongst Hill, Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway and Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley.

    So, what became of all that talk about the Rams taking a quarterback? In the end, it wasn’t much more than a giant smokescreen, according to Linehan.

    “I want to set one thing absolutely straight,” Linehan said. “Marc Bulger is our quarterback and that was never in question…It seems that talent level of the quarterbacks in this draft is tempting, but it certainly was in my opinion an area of our team that we least needed.”

    St. Louis passed on Bunkley and moved down. Philadelphia snatched Bunkley one spot in front of the Rams and St. Louis turned its attention to Hill. And Haslett wasn’t the only one lobbying for Hill. Receiver Torry Holt had made it clear that Hill was one of his favorites in the week leading up to the draft.

    And why not, considering the skill set Hill brings to the table.

    “He’s probably the best cover corner in the Draft,” Linehan said. “Obviously, his speed jumps out at you and his ability to cover. He stood out at the Senior Bowl against those guys there, but more so on tape. The thing about him that I was most impressed about, as far as a player, was he reminds me most of a little bit bigger Antoine Winfield, who played for us at Minnesota. He was a guy that had great cover skills, but also a very, very good run (defense) player.”

    Hill is a bit on the small side at a little over 5’9, but he possesses 4.38 speed in the 40-yard dash and has the ability to blanket any receiver. The Rams’ desire for Hill had become more apparent as the week went on and in the end, the feeling was mutual.

    “I was hoping to go to St. Louis, I’m not going to lie, and it kind of scared me for a minute when they traded their pick,” Hill said. “St. Louis is definitely where I wanted to be.”

    Hill will be expected to come in and compete right away for a starting job with the likes of Jerametrius Butler, Travis Fisher, Ron Bartell and Fakhir Brown.

    With the need for help at defensive back filled, the Rams turned to another area of needs with their second pick. St. Louis used the 46th pick on Colorado tight end Joe Klopfenstein.

    Klopfenstein fills a pressing need for a tight end capable of stretching the field and working in the line as a blocker. At Colorado, Klopfenstein was the team’s strength and conditioning champion. In addition, he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds.

    In other words, Klopfenstein is the total package and just the type of addition to the Rams offense that Linehan was hoping to find.

    “He is a really good fit for us,” Linehan said. “In this league, you have to have the ability of a tight end with some size and you have to be able to run. I think he can compete to start right away. It is hard to guarantee that a guy will start right away. He has to earn a spot. We think he has the talent for it and he will be in the mix right from the beginning.”

    Another part of playing tight end in today’s NFL is having the ability to work in various roles. Linehan prefers players that can play in the line, split out wide as a receiver and even move into the back field as an H back.

    Klopfenstein has done all of those things in the past, meaning he should be able to pick up on his role in Linehan’s system sooner than later.

    “I think that I can be a versatile guy that can be in the game a lot and give teams trouble, not knowing what position I am going to be at,” Klopfenstein said.

    In the third round, the Rams turned their attention back to defense, adding another tackle for the rotation in LSU’s Claude Wroten. Wroten was once considered one of the top two or three defensive tackles in the draft, but dropped because of some off the field issues.

    But, after meeting with Wroten, Linehan was confident enough in the young tackle’s personality to put his stock in him and use the 68th choice in the draft on him.

    “Obviously there’s some stuff out there on his background with some charges he had and the failed drug test at the combine,” Linehan said. “(We) obviously acknowledge those things. The one thing about Claude…obviously there’s a certain amount of risk when we start talking about those kinds of things. Without it we wouldn’t have the opportunity for this player in the third round, and we had first round grades on him. Right next to Bunkley, he was our next tackle. Obviously, he fell to the third, probably for those reasons and for those reasons only. I spent a lot of time researching him. He played for a fair number of my good friends who I worked with in Miami at LSU who recruited him, and talked about some of the things and felt very comfortable with him.”

    At 6’1, 292 pounds, Wroten reminds many of a young La’Roi Glover, a player he will have the benefit of learning from in his first year with the Rams. Linehan expects Wroten to contribute immediately as the line’s “swing man.” In other words, Wroten will be used at both tackle positions and is capable of playing on any down.

    For his part, Wroten believes he is past any off the field issues and is ready to make an impact in the NFL.

    “It was definitely a one-time thing, I wasn’t thinking at the time,” Wroten said. “The incident is totally behind me. I am a great guy; all the teams know that, obviously the Rams know that. I am a great talent; I just want the players and the community to know that it is not a problem at all, and that they have a great guy. They shouldn’t be concerned about any off the field issues. The case has been dropped; there is no court case pending or anything like that.”

    Not long after the selection of Wroten, the Rams added Stanford linebacker/safety Jon Alston with the 77th choice in the draft. Alston became a favorite of the Rams’ coaching staff at the scouting combine in February.

    One year after taking safety Oshiomogho Atogwe in the third round, the Rams grabbed another Cardinal defensive back in the same round. Alston played linebacker for Stanford, but Linehan said he will likely begin his NFL career as a safety.

    More than anything, though, Alston should be able to contribute on special teams from day one.

    “Where I see him is someday being a superstar on special teams,” Linehan said. “I think he will be one of those guys that makes a bigger impact initially in that area and then works his way on the field on special downs and third downs.”

    Alston doesn’t much care where he plays so long as he is given an opportunity to help out. Considering his intelligence (he was a bio-medical research intern) and athletic ability (he ran a 4.63 in the 40), he should have no problem helping out.

    “I think I can do a little bit of both,” Alston said. “I’ll do whatever any team ask me to do and I think I can do it equally well because that is the kind of person that I am, the way that I prepare. Whatever it is, I am a defensive player first and I play football. You can stick me at corner and I will make plays for you.”

    Just when everyone thought the Rams were done shopping for the day, they threw another curveball by dealing their fourth and sixth round choices to Green Bay for the 93rd pick in the draft.

    The Rams turned back to the tight end position by adding USC’s Dominique Byrd to the mix. Byrd is more of a pass catching specialist than Klopfenstein and should give the Rams another big target in the red zone.

    “I think I am definitely a playmaker,” Byrd said. “I think that is one of the strengths of my game. It is something I look forward to doing in the NFL.”

    While it’s impossible to get a gauge on how the first day of the draft will pan out for the Rams, they certainly got off to a solid start by having their needs meet the value of their selections.

    RamsFan16

  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    Hill will be expected to come in and compete right away for a starting job with the likes of Jerametrius Butler, Travis Fisher, Ron Bartell and Fakhir Brown.
    Hot business.


    In other words, Klopfenstein is the total package and just the type of addition to the Rams offense that Linehan was hoping to find.
    Yes, that reads "total package" just to repeat.


    Right next to Bunkley, he was our next tackle.
    Wow, the Rams weren't high on Ngata at all, it seems.


    One year after taking safety Oshiomogho Atogwe in the third round, the Rams grabbed another Cardinal defensive back in the same round. Alston played linebacker for Stanford, but Linehan said he will likely begin his NFL career as a safety.
    I stand corrected. Alston starting out as a safety, hmmm.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    Looks like Alston is switching to safety.

  4. #4
    viper's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    He could be a very good SS prospect. I think I heard he had a high motor and was "tremendous" in coverage. A definite upgrade from Arch. But, what are we gonna do with all of these DB's? Some aren't gonna make the team!

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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    Quote Originally Posted by viper
    He could be a very good SS prospect. I think I heard he had a high motor and was "tremendous" in coverage. A definite upgrade from Arch. But, what are we gonna do with all of these DB's? Some aren't gonna make the team!
    I'm sure with the talent all of them have they'll be able to switch positions in the NFL.


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    looking good lets hope that these selections could help produce better production out of the tight-end and cb positions which we got kicked on last season especially in the red zone

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    Great read, I wasn't all that familiar with some of our picks. I have a much better understanding of who and why now. Sounds like we had a very good draft.

    VD gone to Whiners


  8. #8
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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    I was really concerned with the OL, but it seems that SL is really confident with the skills we have, or he is going to pick something in the leftovers of the FA

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams Needs Meet Value

    I like how he wanted to play for only the Rams and got scared when it might not have happened.

    I don't watch college but from what everyone says, he's a little undersized, good defender and fast.

    So sounds good.

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