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Seventh-rounders have a real shot
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, Jun. 14 2008
Of the Rams' last 10 seventh-round picks before the draft this past April, only
two remain with the team — guard Mark Setterstrom (2006) and wide receiver
Derek Stanley (2007). That number could double this year.
The Rams took the University of Idaho's David Vobora with the last selection in
the 252-player draft after choosing Tulsa's Chris Chamberlain 24 picks earlier.
Both are 22-year-old linebackers with plenty of special-teams experience. And
the Rams, who had just five linebackers on the roster heading into the draft,
are looking for help in both areas.
"They're productive players who translate to very good special-teams players,"
coach Scott Linehan said. "And then while they're learning the system, you
start to develop your depth in the linebacker corps."
Their stories include similar chapters:
— Vobora, 6 feet 1 and 236 pounds, was a two-time All-Western Athletic
Conference honoree whose 341 tackles rank sixth on Idaho's career list. He's
been working mostly at middle linebacker, behind starter Will Witherspoon.
Chamberlain, 6-1 and 226, was an All-Conference USA pick last year whose 352
tackles are No. 5 in Tulsa history. He's been working at weakside linebacker,
behind first-teamer Pisa Tinoisamoa.
— Both rookies embrace the special-teams duty that will be a key factor, at
least initially, in their chances of sticking with the team.
"When I came into Idaho, I knew my impact was going to be special teams right
at first; that's kind of how my focus is again coming in here," Vobora said. "I
feel like being a linebacker and being good in space, I can definitely help
with the coverage teams and make some big plays."
Said Chamberlain: "Throughout my four years in college, I've been on each of
the four phases of special teams. ... I'm looking at it as a positive
opportunity to get on the field and hopefully earn a spot."
— Also, both believe that once the players line up together, everyone is of
"I feel like the whole key, whether I'd been a free agent or a late-round pick,
is just getting in the door," Chamberlain said. "And then once I get on the
field, I feel like I have as good a chance as anybody."
Said Vobora: "The coaches treat us all the same. A bunch of us guys, you
wouldn't be able to tell, 'Is that guy a free agent? Is that guy a draft pick?'
We're all out here vying for spots."
There also are differences between the two:
— Vobora grew up in the Northwest, where he played at 1,500-student Winston
Churchill High in bustling Eugene, Ore. A fellow Churchill alumnus, Jordan
Kent, is a wide receiver with the Seattle Seahawks.
Chamberlain hails from Bethany, a central Oklahoma town of 20,000. He's the
only player from Bethany High, enrollment 375, to play NCAA Division I football.
— While Vobora was strictly a linebacker at Idaho, Chamberlain saw some action
at strong safety and eventually could wind up there with the Rams.
— Finally — and perhaps least important — it will be Vobora, not Chamberlain,
who will travel to Newport Beach, Calif., later this month to star in the
various "Mr. Irrelevant" festivities there.
"Irrelevant Week" activities, which since 1976 have honored the last player
drafted, include an arrival party and a traditional "showering of gifts," a VIP
day at Disneyland, a "Mr. Irrelevant" roast, a barbecue and a parade. Vobora
also will assist the grounds crew in dragging the infield in the seventh inning
of a Dodgers game.
Plus, he'll bring home the Lowsman Trophy, a parody of the Heisman Trophy in
which the bronze player is depicted fumbling the ball. "I'm excited to go to
Newport Beach," Vobora said. "You can't argue with free stuff and a parade and
everything else that goes along with it, right?"
Still, he'd trade it all for a spot on the 53-man roster come September.
"I couldn't really ask for a better opportunity, whether it came in the first
round, the seventh round or as a free agent," he said. "I'm just happy to have
Re: Seventh-rounders have a real shot
I had my eye on Vobora pre-draft, and thought he would go in the sixth round. I hope he makes the team. Good wheels on the kid.A defeated look of consternation, dissappointment, or even pain. The name derives from the look one often gets when challenged by a large BM.
Re: Seventh-rounders have a real shot
I hope both these guys make it on the squad. It's always nice watching our later rount picks make the team before the earlier ones.
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