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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams stick to basics

    By Jim Thomas
    Tuesday, Apr. 29 2008

    It's not as if the Rams threw away the stopwatch and the tape measure. But
    their first draft under executive vice president Billy Devaney emphasized
    production above the so-called measurables.

    There were no quarterbacks brought in to play wide receiver (See: Eric Crouch).
    There were no workout wonders who caught the coach's eye (See: Travis Scott).
    And no prospects who looked the part but barely played in college (See: Jacoby

    So as much as the Rams stressed character in the 2008 draft, they also wanted
    guys who could block, tackle and catch the football. Call it the non-projection

    "We didn't just take a guy that was a great guy to go out and get a beer with
    or something but is not worth a darn as a football player," Devaney said. "We
    want football players."

    The Rams stuck to this plan even in the seventh round with linebackers Chris
    Chamberlain of Tulsa and David Vobora of Idaho. They combined for 313 tackles
    last season, both ranking among the top 10 in college football in tackles.

    At wide receiver, Houston's Donnie Avery and Kentucky's Keenan Burton combined
    for 392 catches over their college careers.

    On the offensive line, Toledo tackle John Greco and Oregon State guard Roy
    Schuening combined for 99 consecutive college starts. Both could wind up as NFL
    starters, with Greco likely to be eventually switched to guard.

    Cornerback Justin King, a converted wide receiver, started all 26 games at Penn
    State over his final two college seasons. First-round defensive end Chris Long
    started 37 consecutive games over his final three seasons at Virginia.

    On paper, the Rams had what looks like a very good second day, beginning with
    the selection of Greco in the third round right up to Mr. Irrelevant. Vobora
    not only was very productive in college but tested among the top linebackers at
    the NFL Scouting Combine.

    But ultimately, this draft will be judged by what happened on Day 1. The Rams
    passed on the highest-rated player on their draft board LSU defensive tackle
    Glenn Dorsey in favor of Long at No. 2 overall. In the second round, with the
    pick of the litter at wide receiver, the Rams surprised analysts by choosing
    Houston's Avery over several more recognizable names.

    At face value, taking Long over Dorsey was a head scratcher. Conventional
    wisdom is that the higher the pick in the opening round, the more a team should
    guard against straying from its board. Like all NFL teams, the Rams spend
    hundreds of thousands to dollars to watch prospects during the college season,
    in college all-star games, at the NFL Scouting Combine, at campus pro days, etc.

    At the end of that entire exhaustive process, Dorsey was deemed the best player
    available by the Rams. That was the case even after some late tweaking of the
    draft board, which according to team sources closed the gap considerably
    between Dorsey and Long.

    But at the end of the day, the Rams' hierarchy felt a pass rusher was more
    valuable for their team than a defensive tackle. In the NFL, game after game
    comes down to the passing game in the fourth quarter. And the surest way for
    defenses to stop that is with a pass rush, something sorely lacking in St.
    Louis last season.

    But to say that Long is a natural pass rusher would be an optimistic
    assessment. In Long's first three seasons with the Cavaliers, including 24
    starts, he had a combined seven sacks. He got near the quarterback a lot, with
    26 pressures in '05 and 21 in '06, but didn't bring him down very often.

    Then Long became a better finisher in '07, with 14 sacks to go along with 23

    "Junior year, sophomore year, he was always close he just wasn't getting it,"
    coach Scott Linehan said. "And what happened this (past) year was he just
    figured out how to cut off about a half second (getting) to that quarterback."

    Time will tell if the Rams have passed on the next Warren Sapp (Dorsey) in
    favor of a more athletic Grant Wistrom (Long). Not that there was anything
    wrong with Wistrom, who was a very good player. Or Long, who projects to be a
    very good player. But Sapp is a future Hall of Famer.

    By passing on Dorsey, the Rams are putting a lot of pressure on defensive
    tackles Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan to stop the run. After showing
    improvement early last season, the Rams' run defense sagged once again down the
    stretch, finishing 20th against the run.

    As for Avery, many observers felt he went a round early. But the Rams didn't
    think so. In fact, they were told through league contacts that eight to 10
    teams had Avery rated as the No. 1 prospect at his position in a flawed wide
    receiver corps. Because of injury and off-field concerns, the Rams had lower
    grades on several more well-known receivers.

  2. #2
    tomahawk247's Avatar
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    Re: Rams stick to basics

    Has a Rams official come out and officially said that Dorsey was atop of the Rams board?

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