JIM THOMAS
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Here's a transcript of the questions and answers from Tuesday's live chat with Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas:

ram2000: Hi Jim thanks for your time. Two Rams questions for you. First, this LA stadium situation looks very tempting and looks like a HUGE money maker, your honest opinion, do you think Stan will listen to a proposal from LA since it won't be ready anyway till the Rams lease expires, and do we have a group in STL to even come close to financing these billion dollar stadiums. Stans NOT going to pay for it. Second question, I think the Rams should make Mankins the #1 FA priority, with WR #2, since Mankins is familiar with Mcdaniels and solves our OL for years to come. Your opinion. Thanks


Jim Thomas: Sorry for the delay. Just back from Super Bowl week, and getting organized again back in STL. As Roger Goodell said during his state of the NFL press conferenc,e there are still issues in L.A. with financing of the stadium. His quote was: "the financing of the stadium in Los Angeles is still a very difficult proposition." So I don't think that's a slam dunk.
As for Mankins, do you really want to pay $6 million to $8 million a year for a guard? Besides, Mankins is considered almost a certainty to be franchised by New England.

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Steve B.: Jim,
I know a lot of Rams fans think we need to get a scat back during the draft to be our 3rd down back.However,I would like to see the Rams keep Jackson on the field for 3rd downs and was disappointed they did not do it this year. Jackson has always been good at receiving the ball out of the backfield and it gets him to the second level of the defense.What are your thoughts?


Jim Thomas: There's no doubt Jackson is a good receiver. And maybe he'll be used more by McDaniels in the passing game. But whether it's a scatback or not, don't we all agree the Rams still need an upgrade at the No. 2 running back position?

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AKA Rusty Shackleford: Hey Jim,

I was wondering what the feelings are about the DE position. Is that a position of high importance heading into the offseason? I am becoming a fan of Ryan Kerrigan and wouldn't mind seeing a nice scary DE duo in St Louis.


Jim Thomas: Good point. We all know Spags likes pass rushing d-linemen. James Hall turned 34 last Friday. I guess what I'm saying is if the value is there I wouldn't be stunned if the Rams took a pass rusher at No. 14. But at this point, I'm doubting if Kerrigan is worth such a high pick.

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Rich: Greetings Mr. Thomas,

Given the state of the Rams WR corp, there's little doubt they need to add a bona-fide difference maker.

However, conventional wisdom at this point says there are only two WRs in this draft worthy of first round grades (Green and Jones) and both may be gone by the time the Rams pick at 14.

Do you see the Rams moving up to put themselves in position to draft one of the top WRs or standing pat to fill other needs such as OLB, DT, or DE?

Personally I see them standing pat since there is a good chance there will be a player there at 14 to fill other needs.


Jim Thomas: Since they have other needs, I'm not sure they'd want to give up the extra picks to move up. So if I was a betting man, I'd say they stand pat unless they fall in love with Jones and only have to give up a minimal amount to move up a spot or two.

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Rich: Greetings Mr. Thomas,

On the ongoing negotiations between the NFL and Union. Based on what we have seen so far do you see a prolonged lock out?

In my opinion, the deal won't get done in time for the start of the league year. However, one will be struck prior to 1 April.

The simple fact of the matter is there are 500+ players eligible for free agency and they are going to want to get paid. It's easy to do that whole union solidarity thing at the beginning of the season when the money's rolling in every week. But now its the off-season and a significant portion of the union base is staring at the possibility of pro-longed unemployment and they still got bills to pay.

Not to mention, the free agency market would be significantly neutered if it was held after the draft.

Thanks again for these chats.


Jim Thomas: Good points. Keep in mind, too, that once there's a lockout, the players lose their health insurance, too. I think the owners are betting exactly that _ that the players will blink first in this staredown between millionaires (players) and billionaires (owners). And think about the pure mathematics of the situation. It seems to me it's easier to keep 32 owners in line than 1,900 players.

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RamFanInPA: Jim,
Assuming there is FA this year. Do you feel the Rams could make a run at Oakland TE Zach Miller? I think Miller would be a great fit and he is only 25 years old. I think a reliable TE would really help McDaniels and Bradford get the offense going!!!!!

Thoughts?

Thanks


Jim Thomas: Not sure if TE is that high on the team's current free agent priority list. But this is kind of a fluid position. Does Fells come back? (He's a UFA.) Do the Rams think Hoomanawanui can stay healthy? Can Onobun contribute in '11? If the answer is no to at least two of those questions, maybe the Rams do look at tight end.

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virginiatom: Do the Rams have to change their scheme of blocking up front on the offensive line to accomdate the style of McDaniels offense? Are the personnel we currently have on the line good for the type of blocking required for his spread offense? Also, any chance the Rams make a play for Mankins?


Jim Thomas: Not sure on the first question, so that means I'm not sure on the second, either. As I mentioned earlier, Mankins appears likely to be franchised. And even if he isn't do you really want to spend $6 million to $8 million a year on a guard?

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Tackleberry: Jim,

Of all the coaches, players, and front office personnel, is it fair to say that the person who needs to have the best 2011 for the Rams is Billy Devaney? If he were to deliver a near flawless off-season, this team really could turn the corner. If he has another year of hits & misses then the climb continues to be steep. Right now he has a good track record of early round draft picks (J. Smith still pending) and identifying discarded talent. His short-comings have been in free agency and drafting for depth at positions of need. This team needs one off-season of Devaney hitting on all cylinders.


Jim Thomas: I think the Rams are one good offseason away from being truly playoff competitive. That is, a legitimate contender for a playoff spot. Devaney hasn't hit 1.000 as a GM, but I think we can all agree that he's been considerably better than the drafts/free agency that preceded him. Last year's free agency was pretty good by the way: Robbins was a good pickup at DT; and Diggs was a solid pickup at OLB.

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rays06: JT, have the Rams considered wearing the blue and white throwbacks, and if not? Why not? and what are the chances of the Rams playing in the Hall of Fame Game with Faulk going in?


Jim Thomas: Once you commit to a certain style of throwbacks, I don't think you can change them for five years. The Rams have worn the '99 throwbacks for just two years, so they can't change for a while. I think a Rams appearance is a good possibility, particularly since there are only four modern-day players going in the Hall this summer.

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Crane Guy: Jim,

Providing there is no lock out, who do you see the Rams making there first "big" free agent offer too?

Are the Rams in negotation talks with Mark Clayton? Will Donnie Avery be ready to go at the start of training camp/

Thanks and a have a good day!


Jim Thomas: If you go by need, I think it would have to be a wide receiver.
On Clayton, not that I'm aware of.
On Avery, I think he will be good to go in late July.

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Ross: Hey Jt

Can you give some names that really caught your eye at the Senior Bowl.

Thanks


Jim Thomas: Well, that already seems like it was a couple months ago, and keep in mind I watched more North practices than South practices, but I liked the quarterback from Nevada (Kaepernick), both Boise State receivers (Pettis and Young), Miami, Fla. WR Leonard Hankerson, Wisconsin left tackle Gabe Carimi, California DT Cameroan Jordan, and Nebraska TE/H-back Mike McNeill.

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TJ: Hi Jim, I believe the Rams need to address the following positions - guard, reciever, running back, defensive end, outside linebacker and safety. Which positions do we adress at the draft and which ones do we address through free agency? Thanks


Jim Thomas: Well, given the fact that free agency is very much up in the air at this point, I guess there's a chance _ and one that looks more likely with each passing day _ that the draft will take place before there's free agency. If that's the case, teams may draft more towards need.

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Big Mel: Jim, Stan just made you King Of The Rams (KOTR). Your first job is take control of the draft. Assuming there is a new CBA in place, would you trade your 1st and 4th round picks to Cincy for their 1st round pick? That way you are reasonably sure you'll get one of the premier WRs, the position almost everyone agrees is our most pressing need. And the Rams historically haven't been very sucessful with their 4th round pick. What say you KOTR?


Jim Thomas: I think it would take more than a No. 14 overall and a fourth-round pick to move up 10 spots (Cincy is No. 4 overall).

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Bopat from Socal: Jim,
With the league's two best defenses in last Sunday's Super Bowl, do you think the Rams and other teams will implement the 3-4 defense? Do the Rams even have the right personnel to play a 3-4 defense? Thanks.


Jim Thomas: Don't think that will happen. Spags has always been a 4-3 guy.

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L. Adam: What are the chances Adam Goldberg is resigned, and what are his chances of starting if he is indeed brought back? He seems like a good guy, but I think he dragged down our run game.


Jim Thomas: I expect Goldberg to re-sign with the Rams.

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ROBERT: the opportunity to upgrade the roster is approaching via the draft their piorities appear to be WR,OLB,OL,CB,S,RB having the #14 spot makes it unpredictable as to who will be available when they select do u feel they should go for their bigest need WR/OLB or best available player- the free agents will not be available until the owner/players contract is approved interesting possibilities WR VJACKSON SD/DL COEFIELD NYG/ OLB B RUUD TB - between the draft and free agency they should be able to upgrade 8 players what are your thoughts ?


Jim Thomas: Eight might be a little optimistic. Last year, for example, the Rams hit on Bradford, Saffold, and Robbins in a big way, and Diggs was a solid addition at OLB. Hoomanawanui would fall in the "big hit" category, too, if he had stayed healthy. There are several other draft picks that might develop from the Class of 2010 _ Murphy, Gilyard, Onobun, etc. _ but we don't know that yet. As for taking need or value, I subscribe to the old Charley Armey line: the higher you are in the draft (1st, 2nd, 3rd rounds), the less you should stretch for need. And even now, there are very few positions where the Rams couldn't use some help.

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Ryan V: Hey Big Jim, assuming free agency eventually kicks off...are there any guys you would target? Personally I'd rather see the Rams get a proven WR in free agency and draft to keep improving the D. I think that scenario fits Spags conservative game plan approach the best. Thoughts?


Jim Thomas: Yeah, I too would rather see a veteran WR in the mix.

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ramfanoncapecod: Hi Jim, Has the schedule of the teams come out yet on who the Rams are playing for next season? Thanks


Jim Thomas: It's been out since the end of the regular season.

HOME
Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington, New Orleans, Baltimore and Cincinnati at home.

AWAY
Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle, New York Giants, Dallas, Green Bay, Cleveland and Pittsburgh away.


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tim g: If the top 2 WR's are gone in the upcoming draft,I think the Rams should take
Mikel LeShoure RB/IL, SJ's replacement. Local area kid and a beast. Reminds me of former IL/RB Rashard Mendenhall.


Jim Thomas: At No. 14 overall?

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David: I know Les Richter has no connection to St. Louis, but being that he did play for the Rams, I would've liked a little more coverage of him rather than just a blurb saying that he got into the Hall of Fame, especially since I'd like to learn more about the Rams's history. Is there a possibility for just one story about him in the near future, now that the Super Bowl is over and Marshall's induction has been covered?


Jim Thomas: Perhaps in the week leading up to the induction ceremonies in Aug.

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NJ RAM FAN: Hey Jim,
Thanks for the time. I would think that Josh McD. will be here at least 2 years no matter how successful the Rams offense is this year. I think it will take that much time to get the bad taste out of the owners from his tour with Denver. I think that is excellent for the Rams to help groom an in-house replacement. Do you agree?


Jim Thomas: Interesting point. Maybe a young up-and-coming QB coach.

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Bob House: Jim, I've yet to read anything definitive, which explains how free agency will work under these, more than interesting, times.

I've heard more than one national pundit say that he wouldn't be suprised to find the labor dispute end until just before the season begins; some say they wouldn't be shocked to see it finalized a few weeks into the season.

If that's the case, how is free agency handled? Surely, not all of these free agents would be expected to sign within days? How exactly does that work?


Jim Thomas: There can be no free agency until there's a new collective bargaining agreement. And there will have to be some orderly free agent signing period set up if there's a protracted work stoppage _ one that goes into even late July or early August. But that will have to be agreed upon by the players and owners, adding yet another negotiating point.

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Rambunctious: 1)Does Fendi Onobun figure to benefit from the J. McDaniels hiring?

2)Do you see Fendi as having a decent chance to make the final roster this year?


Jim Thomas: 1.) Probably not. Now he has to learn a new offense. And Onobun already has enough on his plate just learning the nuances of playing football at the NFL level.
2.) He may have to show even more than he did last preseason.

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Tackleberry: Jim,

On a follow-up to an early question; if the Rams aren't hitting a home run with a WR in free agency and they aren't getting one of the top two receivers in the draft, then really aren't they just drafting for depth? And don't they already have about 4-5 WRs who are very comparable in skill set and skill level? If the Rams don't enter camp with a new #1 or a future #1 than this offseason begins to echo of futility.


Jim Thomas: There are plenty of top-flight receivers around the league who weren't drafted in the first round. Naturally, it's a matter of picking the right one in the seoond, third rounds, etc. In the Super Bowl alone, Greg Jennings was a second-rounder, Hines Ward a third-rounder, Mike Wallace was a third-rounder, Donald Driver (who obviously is winding down his career) was a seventh-rounder.

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Soly: yes, pay for the guard...


Jim Thomas: Even if that means you can't then pay for the wide receiver?

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James in San Jose: Hi Jim,

Any updates on the qb coach position? What do you think the odds are that Spags chooses McDaniel to function as both? I think that would be a big mistake. We need someone who can run the same offense so if McDaniels is ever offered another head coaching position, the qb coach can step up and keep the same system in place. Otherwise there is a danger that we have to start over from scratch like the ***** seem to do every year, or like we did with Shurmer. What do you think?


Jim Thomas: There have still been no formal interviews.

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Rambunctious: Hi Jim,

1)Do you believe an agreement between owners and NFLPA will be reached in time for free agency to begin? Your take on the negotions so far ...

2)Is there any chance roster limits will be increased if the owners are able to push through an 18 game regular season (which appears a foregone conclusion.)

3) What are the chances Julio Jones will still be on the board at #14 overall? 50/50 - 60/40 ?? Thanks in advance!


Jim Thomas: 1.) I don't. It doesn't seem like they've agreed on much so far.
2.) I don't think the players would agree to an 18-game schedule without an increase in roster size.
3.) Hard to predict. Too many variables when you're dependent in part on what 13 teams do ahead of you.

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Rodrigo Fernandez: Dear Jim, Two questions from a Mexico's fan.

First one: OLB and WR are the biggest holes for filling out in the team for 2011 season? But I think that the RG is a much bigger need. What do you think? any chance to found a good RG in the draft? or the team has to looking at the Free Agency?
Second question: Do you think that the Rams new owner is going to invest the neccesary money in the team for a playoff team in the upcoming two-three years?
Gracias!!


Jim Thomas: I'd still put WR at the top of the list, and that's not to say guard isn't a need. But you can have the best blocking guards in the league, but if you don't have a WR who can get open and can get deep, it's not going to matter much in the passing game.
As for Kroenke and how much money he will put into personnel _ we're about to find out.

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Bopat from Socal: Jim,
With the terrible weather they had in Dallas during last week, how were you able to get around the city?


Jim Thomas: Only to some of the press conferences. Dallas wasn't very well equipped to handle bad weather.

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Fred Bird: Jim,
What type of impact will Harbaugh have in San Fran next year?

Thanks


Jim Thomas: He still needs a quarterback.

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Jeff: Jim,
Who is the top rated outside 4-3 linebacker in the draft? If there is someone at this position worth drafting at the 14th pick, this would be a good alternative if Green and Jones aren't available. Also, do you think the rams have any interest in Mike Pouncey, the guard from Florida. Thanks for your time!


Jim Thomas: I think Von Miller of Texas A&M is trying to show the scouts he has good enough coverage ability to play the 4-3. But he's a such a good pass rusher, he probably won't last till No. 14. Akeem Ayers of UCLA may be the next 4-3 'backer, but 14 might be a little high at this point. Don't know if the Rams are interested in Pouncey.

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Four Seam: Rams lst pick would look terrific with DE Cameron Jordan and 2nd pick with OG Danny Watkins from Baylor. Offense and defense would be greatly imroved with those two players.

Would the Rams benefit by sliding down in first round to pick up an extra second/third round pick? Draft looks very favorable talent wise in those rounds. Use the extra pick for W/R or RB.

Thanks for all your good work.


Jim Thomas: On paper, I really like that tandem. Now you'd still have to find a WR, OLB, and RB. (And maybe free agency could help with one or two of those positions.)

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tim g: What type owner will Mr. Kroenke be, hands-on, free with the checkbook?


Jim Thomas: I think he'll be involved by not hands-on; I think he'll spend the money necessary to help the team be competitive and stay competitive, but he's not going to simply throw money at problems.

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Bob House: And to answer your question, which you've asked twice, yes... I would spend $6 to $8 million for Mankins, especially considering Jacob Bell (I believe) is making $6 million a year. Ideally, we could cut Bell, and sign Mankins. I know it's not going to happen... still, Jacob Bell isn't worth half of his salary. He's been Devaney's biggest bust.


Jim Thomas: I'd still rather spend the money on a skill player.

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Rodrigo Fernandez: Jim,

I really like the football level that James Laurinaitis played during his firts two seasons in the NFL. I think this guy is now in the top 5 better MLB in the league...and improving...do you agree? do you have any comment on Laurinaitis future as a Ram?

Thank you very much for your time


Jim Thomas: I don't know if he's top five yet, but he's certainly trending in that direction. He has a very bright future in St. Louis.

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Pujols is God: Hey JT,,,,what are the chances the rams trade up and go after more of a sure thing and draft AJ Green?


Jim Thomas: Green looks like a top 5 pick, and it would normally take a lot to get up there from No. 14 overall.

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playoffsn2010: JT, thanks for the chats. Do you think Kroenke will listen to LA offers if the stadium is built?


Jim Thomas: I guess you never say never, but every time he's been asked about this in a media setting, he has said pretty firmly he wants to keep the team in St Louis.

That's all for now, talk to you all next week.