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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    In reality, Rams' recent drafts have been decent

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    10/18/2007

    So how did the Rams get to 0-6 this season? How did they get into a discussion about finishing 0-16 and getting the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft?

    A lot went wrong, obviously. Much has been made of their spotty draft history -– especially in the Mike Martz Era -– but the Rams actually got a decent yield from their last three crops.

    After taking a longer look at the drafts, your cyber-correspondent came to believe injuries and free-agent casualties were far bigger issues. See for yourself:

    2005 DRAFT

    ALEX BARRON, T, 19th: Starter. He is the mainstay of an otherwise fluctuating offensive line. He has Pro Bowl physical ability, but he remains an inconsistent pass blocker prone to false-start penalties. Barron should play a long time in the NFL, even if he never reaches his full potential. Decent offensive tackles are hard to find, so he was an OK pick.

    RON BARTELL, CB, 50th: Fill-in starter. He has matured into a solid player. He assumed a bigger role after Fakhir Brown’s suspension and Tye Hill’s injury. He can also play safety in a pinch and he is a fine special teams player. The coaches love his work ethic. Big cornerbacks are hard to find, so he was a good pick.

    O.J. ATOGWE, S, 66th: Starter. He has come a long way in Jim Haslett’s defense. He brought stability to a secondary riddled with injury woes, so he was a pretty good pick. Here is what Scouts Inc. says: “He is aggressive and has a nose for the ball in run support. He is a physical hitter and tackler when he gets a ball carrier lined up. He is a straight-line athlete who can have some success in zone coverage. But Atowge doesn't have good play speed or range. He needs to take better angles and can be a bit of a liability in space. He is a little stiff and wastes a lot of motion when forced to flip his hips and run. He doesn't have good recovery speed or range when the ball is in the air. He is slowly developing into a solid player.”

    RICHIE INCOGNITO, C/G, 81st: Starter. The Rams selected him knowing he couldn’t contribute as a rookie. Once Incognito got healthy, he performed like a first-rounder. He has already earned the reputation for dirty play, so he is a marked man with NFL referees. He gets flagged for too many penalties. On the other hand, he opens holes. This was a great pick at this spot in the draft.

    JEROME CARTER, S, 117th: Sub/injured reserve. Injuries gave him a chance to make his mark this year . . . and then he got hurt, too. It’s tough to say if he will ever become more than an extra player, so this was a mildly disappointing pick.

    CLAUDE TERRELL, G, 134th: Fill-in starter. He played some as a rookie, missed last year with an injury and then got pressed into starting duty this season. The Rams really, REALLY need him to step up with so many other players hurt. He can still save his draft grade with a big finish.

    JEROME COLLINS, TE, 144th: On Giants practice squad. He played three games for the Rams in 2005 and didn’t get noticed. He is running out of time in this profession. This was a missed pick.

    DANTE RIDGEWAY, WR, 192nd: On Saints practice squad. He played eight games for the Jets in 2005 and has bounced around camps and practice squads ever since. He was a superfluous pick, given the team’s wide receiver depth at the time.

    REGGIE HODGES, P, 210th: Cut. This was a missed pick. The kid was a nice collegiate punter, but he didn’t come close to getting it done here. The Eagles and Colts later took looks at him, too, but it’s hard to break into the NFL.

    RYAN FITZPATRICK, QB, 250th: On Bengals roster. This was a fabulous pick. Fitzpatrick served as the No. 3 quarterback here for two seasons. The Rams dealt him to Cincinnati after training camp -– and now fans are pining for his mobility and improvisational skills.

    MADISON HEDGECOCK, FB, 251st: On Giants roster. This was a great pick at the end of the draft. He played all 32 games during his first two years with the Rams, then failed to keep his lineup spot this season. The Rams staff felt he lost some of his pop as a blocker.

    2006 DRAFT

    TYE HILL, CB, 15th: Starter. The Rams moved back in the first round and still got him. Hill has tremendous speed and confidence. His stated goal is to make the Pro Bowl. He isn’t at that level yet, but he added life to Haslett’s defense and filled a big need. This was a good pick.

    JOE KLOPFENSTEIN, TE, 46th: Sub. He looked like a solid pick last year when he played in all 16 games and caught 20 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown. But he regressed as a receiver and blocker this season, prompting offensive coordinator Greg Olson to cite Klopfenstein’s lost confidence. He is an iffy pick now, since NFL teams need to land impact players at this point in the draft.

    CLAUDE WROTEN, DT, 68th: Sub. The Rams gambled on “character issues” and it bit the team this season. Wroten missed four games with an NFL suspension. Prior to that, the coaching staff raved about his offseason progress and predicted good things for him. Let’s hope he isn’t going to Anthony Hargrove for career advice. His draft grade is still pending. If he stays out of further trouble, he will become a nice player.

    JON ALSTON, LB, 77th: On Raiders roster. He had the physical ability to become a special weapon in Haslett’s defense, but he made too many mistakes on run plays. His “gap integrity” was found lacking and the team kept undrafted free agent Quinton Culberson this season instead. Alston landed on Oakland’s practice squad, then got promoted. He may become a decent NFL player, but he was a missed pick here.

    DOMINIQUE BYRD, TE, 93rd: Sub. He made no impact as a rookie. Multiple receiver injuries forced coach Scott Linehan to finally use him in the offense. He is still a massive underachiever, though, and Olson said: “We’ve had hopes he would come around, that he would get better, than he would start to show some improvement. He needs to get better at this point. He still has to reach his potential. He needs to get there in a hurry for us.” He remains an iffy pick.

    VICTOR ADEYANJU, DE, 113th: Sub. His lack of pass-rush skills dropped him deep into the draft, but he has become a solid rotation guy. He is sturdy against the run and there is no denying his work ethic. He was a solid pick.

    MARQUES HAGANS, WR/QB, 144th: Sub. Olson notes that he is still learning his position in Year 2 as a pro. But the former college quarterback does have some playmaking skill and he showed well as an injury replacement Sunday. His ability to get yards after catches makes him a worthy project. This was an OK pick.

    TIM MCGARIGLE, LB, 221st: Sub. He seemed headed to the “cut” list before playing spectacularly in the preseason finale. He’s still around, so he was an OK pick this late.

    MARK SETTERSTROM, G, 242nd: Starter/injured reserve. This was a great pick. He made rapid progress as a rookie and he became a very solid starter in his second season. His pass blocking skills came a long way in a hurry. His injury was another tough blow to the offensive line. He appears to have a very bright future.

    TONY PALMER, G, 243rd: On Packers roster. This was a great pick. The Rams put him on the practice squad after his first training camp, but he didn’t last long. Green Bay quickly snapped him up. As it turned out, the Rams hated to lose him.

    2007 DRAFT

    ADAM CARRIKER, NT/DT, 13th: Starter. He has played a ton -– perhaps too much early on, in Haslett’s assessment -– and could become a big impact player. Moving from nose tackle to the “three technique” has helped him progress. Carriker shored up the middle of the defensive line and made the Rams much tougher against the run. This was a great pick.

    BRIAN LEONARD, RB.FB, 52nd: Fill-in starter. Skeptics wondered why the Rams spent such a high pick to add another running back . . . and then Steven Jackson got hurt. Leonard has logged his first 100-yard game and helped greatly as a pass blocker. He can also catch the ball and fill in at fullback. And he is a fine special teams asset. This was a good pick.

    JONATHAN WADE, CB, 84th: Sub. The simultaneous loss of Brown and Bartell forced Wade to grow in a hurry. And he did. He is still somewhat raw in coverage, but his speed is a huge asset -– especially on special teams. He was a good pick.

    DUSTIN FRY, C, 139th: Practice squad. He got caught behind Brett Romberg AND Andy McCollum in the depth chart battle. Plus the team had other guys (Incognito, Setterstrom) capable of playing center, too. He needed to turn heads in camp and that didn’t quite happen. His grade is pending.

    CLIFTON RYAN, DT, 154th: Starter. This may have been the best pick in this three-year span. As a rookie, Ryan has become a force at nose tackle. His rapid development allowed Carriker to move over and it helped the Rams survive Wroten’s suspension. Ryan may be one of the top defensive rookies in the league.

    KEN SHACKLEFORD, T, 190th: Cut. Just a few months ago, the Rams had admirable offensive line depth. When Shackleford suffered a sprained knee in camp -– thus losing valuable developmental time -– it wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t make the cut and he moved on. After six games, the Rams wish that pick had panned out.

    KEITH JACKSON, 248th: Cut. He did spend part of September on the practice squad, but he didn’t last there, either. The Rams have great depth at this position, so he was always going to be a long shot. This late in the draft, can you really say this was a missed pick?

    DEREK STANLEY, 249th: Practice squad. He has fabulous speed, but his lack of big-time college experience made him a longshot. Some fans called for his promotion, but the Rams signed speedy veteran Travis Taylor instead.


  2. #2
    ramsanddodgers's Avatar
    ramsanddodgers is offline Registered User
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    Re: In reality, Rams' recent drafts have been decent

    Hard to argue with Gordon's assessments here...
    RnD

    GO RAMS!!

  3. #3
    Bar-bq's Avatar
    Bar-bq is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    Re: In reality, Rams' recent drafts have been decent

    But you look back past that, and what you have is years upon years of mediocrity where it counts-- that being the first two rounds, with one player still one the roster.

    TRUNG CANIDATE- Miss. Faulk's heir apprentice? Try Martz' whipping boy.

    ADAM ARCHULETA- Great for the Smith system, miss otherwise. With Smith in Chicago.

    ROBERT THOMAS- Miss. Was traded to Green Bay for a 7th round pick.

    RYAN PICKETT- Hit. And it was such a shame to lose him to Green Bay.

    DAMIONE LEWIS- Miss. With Carolina as part of their Rotation.

    TRAVIS FISHER- Miss. Miscast starter played poorly since he arrived and was cut at the end of the offseason.

    PISA TINOISAMOA- Ht, but oft. injured. An absolute warrior, maybe the best Rams pick from 00-03.

    JIMMY KENNEDY- Ugh.

  4. #4
    Goldenfleece's Avatar
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    Re: In reality, Rams' recent drafts have been decent

    The last three years actually have shaped up pretty well. I particularly like the fact that we are finding talent in the later rounds. That shows we're doing our homework. It's the drafts from the early 2000s that were really bad.

  5. #5
    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: In reality, Rams' recent drafts have been decent

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece View Post
    The last three years actually have shaped up pretty well. I particularly like the fact that we are finding talent in the later rounds. That shows we're doing our homework. It's the drafts from the early 2000s that were really bad.
    Yes, I agree. Also with Tony Softli ( and his computer program) on board, hopefully we'll continue to find nuggets like Setterstrom and Ryan in the later rounds. Not too mention vastly improving our first dat pix also.

    WHAT SAY YE?

  6. #6
    rampete is offline Registered User
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    Re: In reality, Rams' recent drafts have been decent

    ...but the Rams actually got a decent yield from their last three crops.
    yeah, because winning isn't the barometer for being rated 'decent' in this league...thank god for that!

  7. #7
    PossumBoy9's Avatar
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    Better....sure, but

    I'm not sure the drafts have been all that great recently.

    Relative to the early drafts of the decade, they certainly have been.

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