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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    St. Louis Rams eye RBs in draft

    St. Louis Rams eye RBs in draft
    BY Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Friday, Apr. 17 2009
    It's no big secret. Way back in late November, Rams general manager Billy
    Devaney was talking about the need to have a strong 1-2 punch at running back
    in 2009 and beyond.

    "The way the game is now, you need two good running backs," Devaney said at the
    time. "One that can spell the starter during the course of the game. Or if the
    starter gets nicked for a game or two, you don't lose anything by going with
    your backup running back."

    No, the big secret is: What are the Rams planning to do about their backup
    running back position?

    At the start of the free agency period, new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo spoke
    with New York Giants running back Derrick Ward about the possibility of playing
    for the Rams. But Ward already had one foot in the door at Tampa Bay, signing a
    four-year deal with the Buccaneers on the fourth day of free agency.

    That Ward phone call represents the only known "foray" by the Rams into the
    free-agent market at running back.

    And what about the draft?

    Twenty-four prospects were invited to Rams Park this week for pre-draft visits.
    (One of the invitees, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, canceled out on
    his visit.) Curiously, not one running back was among the 23 players who
    visited.

    But the Rams have scouted a lot of running backs, and they've shown more than
    passing interest in North Carolina State's Andre Brown, Iowa's Shonn Greene and
    Liberty's Rashad Jennings.

    The Rams have talked to Brown at the Senior Bowl, the NFL scouting combine and
    North Carolina State's pro day. They also had an individual workout with Brown,
    with a Rams contingent that included running backs coach Sylvester Croom on
    hand.

    Brown started 30 games over four seasons at N.C. State and ranks among the
    school's career leaders in rushing yards (2,539) and rushing touchdowns (22).

    "I felt like I left at least a dent (in the record book)," Brown said. "I
    didn't leave a big hole in it, but I left a dent to let them know that Andre
    Brown was there."

    Brown shared the workload with others during his first three seasons with the
    Wolfpack, and even as a starter his senior season, his college career highs of
    175 carries for 767 yards in '08 are modest totals. There are also questions
    about his left foot: He needed surgery in '07 and '08 to repair a broken bone.

    "It's OK," Brown said. "I played last season injury-free."

    On the plus side, Brown ran an eye-opening 4.37 in the 40-yard dash at the
    combine, which is really moving for someone his size (6-0, 224 pounds). He also
    showed good production as a receiver, with 30 catches last season.

    The Rams also have shown a lot of interest in Greene of Iowa. They had planned
    an individual workout with him, but it was canceled because of some scheduling
    problems. Some have compared Greene's running style to Natrone Means, a
    bruising running back on San Diego's Super Bowl squad of 15 years ago.

    Greene (5-11, 277) is far from a burner with 4.6 speed, but he attacks the line
    of scrimmage, finishes off runs and has quick feet. Even though he turned pro
    early, Greene will be an "old" NFL rookie, turning 24 in August. He attended
    prep school for one year after high school, and then after two seasons as a
    backup with Iowa, was declared academically ineligible. He spent the 2007
    season at a junior college to get his grades back up. He spent part of that
    juco year working in a furniture store.

    "It was pretty crazy," Greene said. "I matured a lot as a man. Not being able
    to play football for a year kind of set me back and made me understand I had to
    take care of business and my responsibilities."

    A career that seemed to be heading nowhere skyrocketed in 2008. Greene set an
    Iowa single-season record with 1,850 yards rushing, won the Doak Walker Award
    as the nation's top college running back, and was named offensive player of the
    year in the Big Ten. He had 100 yards or more rushing in all 13 Hawkeyes games.

    As for Liberty's Jennings, he began his college career at Pittsburgh as a pudgy
    265-pound running back. He became one of four true freshman running backs at
    Pitt to start on opening day, a list that includes the great Tony Dorsett.

    He transferred to Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va.) in 2006 to be closer to
    his father, who was battling diabetes, and proceeded to log three impressive
    seasons for the Division I-AA Flames. Now trimmed down to 231 pounds, Jennings
    showed he could play with the big-school talent at the Senior Bowl. Throw in
    good workout results at the combine and his pro day (which the Rams attended),
    and Jennings isn't a secret to anyone. Least of all the Rams.
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  2. #2
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    Re: St. Louis Rams eye RBs in draft

    It certanly makes sense for the Rams to develope a 1-2 punch in their running game. With a bruiser like Steven Jackson, a nice swift and speedy back would be a nice contrast. In Jackson's case, he needs to put it all together this year. A running backs' career in most cases is a short lifespan, hopefully he can produce results that are concidered HOF worthy.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
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    Re: St. Louis Rams eye RBs in draft

    Utilizing Steven Jackson is a tricky proposition. Just ask Jim Haslett.

    We need him on the field as much as possible but he also needs to be spelled every now and then. With Jackson's running style which has been leading to nagging if not sidelining injuries he needs to be kept as healthy as possible. Obviously game situations come into play as well. I feel like we need at least 2 solid backups for Jackson.

  4. #4
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: St. Louis Rams eye RBs in draft

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    The Rams also have shown a lot of interest in Greene of Iowa. They had planned
    an individual workout with him, but it was canceled because of some scheduling
    problems. Some have compared Greene's running style to Natrone Means, a
    bruising running back on San Diego's Super Bowl squad of 15 years ago.

    Greene (5-11, 227 lbs) is far from a burner with 4.6 speed, but he attacks the line
    of scrimmage, finishes off runs and has quick feet.
    Even though he turned pro
    early, Greene will be an "old" NFL rookie, turning 24 in August. He attended
    prep school for one year after high school, and then after two seasons as a
    backup with Iowa, was declared academically ineligible. He spent the 2007
    season at a junior college to get his grades back up. He spent part of that
    juco year working in a furniture store.

    "It was pretty crazy," Greene said. "I matured a lot as a man. Not being able
    to play football for a year kind of set me back and made me understand I had to
    take care of business and my responsibilities."

    A career that seemed to be heading nowhere skyrocketed in 2008. Greene set an
    Iowa single-season record with 1,850 yards rushing, won the Doak Walker Award
    as the nation's top college running back, and was named offensive player of the
    year in the Big Ten. He had 100 yards or more rushing in all 13 Hawkeyes games.
    This kids production is amazing! I doubt we'll have a chance at him though ..

    On a side note: I looked up Emmit Smith's 40 yd dash time, and the fastest I could find was 4.8 .. That's right - 4.8 ....

    An interesting take on the significance of 40 times was posted by this individual on another board:

    UGA_Steve

    This 40-yd time thing is out of control.

    About the only time a 40-yd dash comes into play in the NFL is once a RB breaks thru the LB's with a full head of steam, which happens about once or twice per game .. TOPS. The majority of the time, it's elusiveness or power you are looking for in a RB, combined with the ability to pick the hole correctly and setup/use his blocking.

    Then, to top that off, a RB who runs a 40 yd dash without pads in 4.5 will be nearly as fast, if not faster, on the field than a CB who runs a 4.4 in his 40 time. It's a difference of running in pads. I have seen backs at 4.6 outrun supposedly fast CB's, because the tiny frame of most CB's means the pads make a bigger difference in speed/weight ratio.

    In other words, 40yd times are almost useless within reason. There are a half dozen backs on this list being pushed down because of 40 yd dash times, but it is absolutely stupid. Emmitt Smith - 4.8 (4.7 at personal workout), Blair Thomas 4.4 -- Thomas was drafted ahead of Smith because Smith showed lack of speed at the combine. OOPS!! There are many examples of this, and very few examples of RB's who were Pro Bowlers based solely on speed. Not only that, speed guys don't tend to last as long, but I don't think that bothers the drafting teams as much since they usually move on after 4-5 years.

    Any team with any intelligance will take a RB who turns losses into 3 yard gains, or typical 3 yard gaains into 7-8 yard gains .. or maybe a 5 yard gain into a 10-15 yard gain over a back that goes down on one hit (Reggie Bush) and once per game breaks a 30-40 yard gain. That is why Knowshown was so good at UGA. It wasn't his breakawy speed, but the fact he rarely got hit for a loss, and frequently had 5+ yards after the initial hit. I am sure that will go down a little in the NFL, but with his build/body size and low center of gravity, I doubt it will go down all that much. Same with about three other guys on this list.

  5. #5
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    Re: St. Louis Rams eye RBs in draft

    Brian Leonard could be a good back up of Steven Jackson.
    Si vous croyez en vous, que vous avez de la fierté, et que vous ne lâchez jamais, vous serez un gagnant.
    Le prix de la victoire est chère, mais la récompense en vaut la peine.

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    Re: St. Louis Rams eye RBs in draft

    Didn't we sign Darby to a 2 year deal after the season? And that would have been after these comments about developing a 1-2 combo (which I believe Spags really wants to do). I thought I also saw where Darby was planned to be the backup and sometimes used in specific situations. With the way he looked last year, especially receiving, I'd love for him to be the #2, and for us to address other more pressing needs in the draft.
    Seems to me the article is way more speculation than anything, especially with comments from so long ago. I guess if there was a stud RB still sitting there in the 3rd or 4th that would be an absolute steal, we should take it though.

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