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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Still plenty to do, but Rams are making progress

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    03/07/2008

    New Rams offensive coordinator Al Saunders brought a LOT of plays with him to St. Louis.

    His playbook features myriad formations and about 20 different pass protection schemes. He is equally inventive with his running and passing attacks.

    Of course, none of these plays will work without competent blocking. So it is heartening to see the Rams address this issue in the offseason.

    The team needed to do more than just get injured starters Orlando Pace, Richie Incognito and Mark Setterstrom healthy again. Adding free-agent guard Jacob Bell was a strong move, since he can move into the left guard slot and also fill in at tackle in case of emergency.

    And we all know that emergencies frequently arise in the NFL.

    Bell offers more agility at the guard position, a quality needed for Saunders’ protection schemes. He should be a better pass blocker than Setterstrom, who could move to center -- although the Rams could still address that position in free agency and the draft.

    The Rams also brought back Adam Goldberg, a handy back-up guard and tackle. He was another of last season’s critical casualties. Goldberg’s demise, combined with the injuries to others (Pace, Setterstrom, Incognito, Todd Steussie, Andy McCollum, Brett Romberg, et al) forced the Rams to sign an assortment of fill-ins off the street.

    Goldberg is a better guard than tackle, so the Rams still need to add a capable player to support the oft-injured Pace and the still-inconsistent Alex Barron.

    Could it be Michigan tackle Jake Long? He will almost certainly be available with the second overall pick. Some folks at Rams Park are convinced Long could start his career at guard, then move to tackle when Pace retired.

    NFL.com Vic Carucci advises the Rams to take him: “After last year's 3-13 finish, the Rams have plenty of holes to fill. If the Dolphins pass on Chris Long, the Rams might very well grab him here. Otherwise, they figure to address their biggest problem area, the offensive line, which lost three starters to season-ending injuries in 2007. Jake Long could very well be this year's Joe Thomas, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Long had a dominant collegiate career. He has an excellent combination of size, strength, and athleticism, all of which resulted in a highly impressive showing at the combine.”

    (ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, on the other hand, believes the Rams would draft game-wrecking defensive tackle Glen Dorsey if Chris Long goes first overall. Given the depth at tackle in this draft, the Rams could fill that need in the second round.)

    Tight end was another sore spot for the Rams last season -- thanks to the failure of youngsters Dominique Byrd and Joe Klopfenstein to progress -- so the Anthony Becht signing ought to help. At the very least, Becht should help shore up the run blocking and provide an upgrade over Aaron Walker.

    Here is how Scouts Inc. assesses him:

    “Becht is an eight-year veteran who has excellent size and above-average athletic skills. He appears to have enough tools and ability to be a very productive tight end in the league, but hasn’t panned out to be the player who many once thought he might be. His durability has been good over his career, but he has never been a big part of a team’s offensive scheme. He isn’t explosive or powerful initially off the line of scrimmage, but can lock on and wall off defenders to set the edge. He doesn’t work with effective power angles or base, which hinders his ability to get movement off the line of scrimmage. However, he does use his hands well to gain leverage and stay connected as a run blocker. Becht has solid hands as a receiver to extend away from his body, but shows little in the way of run-after-the-catch ability downfield. He doesn’t have great quickness or burst as a route runner which enables defenders to cover him easily. He is a steady-effort player, but doesn’t bring attitude to the position. Becht has been a solid football player but has never really lived up to his first-round billing. He continues to have value in most offensive schemes, but clubs need to know he isn’t an impact player.”

    Fair enough. Randy McMichael should be an impact player next season IF he doesn’t have to spend all his time bailing out the hapless right tackle.

    The Rams still have plenty to do this offseason. The draft offers an exciting opportunity to upgrade and the free-agent market still offers potential help.

    The work in progress is showing lots of promise.


  2. #2
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Still plenty to do, but Rams are making progress

    The more I read about Bell, the more encouraged I am with the signing. I'm not one to say I know this (insert line position here) is going to work because of all the positions on a team I know the least about lineman. However, those who do know that I have been reading all seem to say the same thing, that this guy can play. The good Ram in the sky surely knows that's what we need.

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    Re: Still plenty to do, but Rams are making progress

    I know Bell is going to be THE Orlando Pace of this line in several years. He's versatile, and the player we needed on this line last season. It's going to be a good year for Jacob.

    Like TX said, the more I read about Jake Long, the more I'm convinced that he'll be good. I'm usually against Jake Long, but putting him at Right Guard will be great. And if Pace goes down...put Setterstrom at RG and move Long to LT. I think it would work.

    As for DE, if Groves is in the second round, snag him.

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    Re: Still plenty to do, but Rams are making progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    Like TX said, the more I read about Jake Long, the more I'm convinced that he'll be good. I'm usually against Jake Long, but putting him at Right Guard will be great. And if Pace goes down...put Setterstrom at RG and move Long to LT. I think it would work.
    ?
    I must have missed where Tex was talking about Jake Long. I only saw Tex talking about Bell.

  5. #5
    Dwight Frye's Avatar
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    Re: Still plenty to do, but Rams are making progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post

    As for DE, if Groves is in the second round, snag him.
    Haven't missed an Auburn home game in years. My point?

    QUENTIN GROVES IS A BEAST!

    I like that idea. Jake then Quentin.

  6. #6
    Mooselini's Avatar
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    Re: Still plenty to do, but Rams are making progress

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsSB99 View Post
    ?
    I must have missed where Tex was talking about Jake Long. I only saw Tex talking about Bell.
    What I meant is the more I read on a player, the more I'm interested. As in, the more he reads about Bell, he gets more interested in the sign, as I am more interested in Jake Long when I read about him.

    I wouldn't mind Jake Long then Groves.

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