Tipsheet: Experts Give Rams High Grades For Draft
Tipsheet: Experts give Rams high grades for draft
3 hours ago • By Jeff Gordon
Rams coach Jeff Fisher is a confident fellow. So is his general manager, Les Snead.
They don’t crave validation from the national media. But they got it anyway after aggressively filling team needs during the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Rams traded up to get the most explosive offensive weapon in the draft, Tavon Austin. The team traded up on Day 3 to get the last running back with a strong grade, Zac Stacy.
The team moved down in the first round to land a risk/reward linebacker Alec Ogletree, a speed linebacker. All in all Fisher and Snead enjoyed a successful three days in the eyes of those experts paid to evaluate such things.
Here is a sampling of their Rams grades, starting at the high end:
Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com: “I love what the Rams did. They were aggressive in the drafting of Austin and got my favorite inside linebacker in Ogletree. Later, they picked up a steal in Zac Stacy, a running back who can battle for the starting gig in training camp. A-plus.”
Chris Burke, SI.com: “The NFC West is going to be pretty, pretty good. St. Louis stacked up as the third-best team in that division heading into the draft, behind San Francisco and Seattle, and the Rams loaded up. They traded up for electrifying WR Tavon Austin, then added his former college teammate Stedman Bailey — oh, and LB Alec Ogletree — after trading down later. St. Louis also found a possible starting safety in T.J. McDonald, a proven and versatile lineman in Barrett Jones and do-everything RB Zac Stacy. Grade: A.”
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN.com: “The Rams really needed to add a wide receiver (or two), and they really needed to add a safety. I thought they could use a running back, and if they had a guard available, that would be good. Well, the Rams did well. We can sit and remind ourselves that they don't have Robert Griffin III and that's part of the reason they have the ability to maneuver so well, but we forget the Rams improved as much or more than the Redskins last season, and we don't know exactly what RG III will do early in 2013. St. Louis crushed the WR question, adding Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. (Know who caught 113 passes to Austin's 111 at West Virginia last year? That was Bailey.) Alec Ogletree is an impact performer. Put him next to James Laurinaitis and throw away the key. T.J. McDonald wouldn't have been my safety choice at No. 71, but he wasn't much of a reach and they clearly like the fit. He'll start, too. Barrett Jones is your depth at guard, and I think Zac Stacy could see some action at running back. I really liked this draft, and found myself in agreement with my colleagues. Oh, and they still have an extra first-rounder next year. The NFC West arms race is not just a two-team affair. Grade: A-minus.”
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: Best pick: “I love third-round pick Stedman Bailey, a receiver out of West Virginia. Tavon Austin, their first-round pick, will be a star but Bailey will be a quality starter down the road. Questionable move: I think third-round safety T.J. McDonald is too much of a box safety for the way the game is played now. He is stiff in coverage. Third-day gem: Alabama center-guard-tackle Barrett Jones will bring a lot of versatility to a line that needs help. Analysis: Second-year general manager Les Snead had another big haul over the three days. He first traded up to go get Austin, who I love, then traded down to get another quality player in linebacker Alec Ogletree. Grade: B-plus.”
Alex Marvez, FoxSports.com: “They swiped dynamic wide receiver Austin away from the New York Jets when leapfrogging from No. 16 to No. 8 in the first round. Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree has a history of off-field problems but checkered pasts have never scared off Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Grade: B-plus.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: “The Rams added more exciting receiving pop for Sam Bradford with the West Virginia duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, who are built to remain fine complementary playmakers on St. Louis' fast indoor track. Jeff Fisher also got a speedy linebacker who can cover (Georgia's Alec Ogletree) and the slobber-knocking safety (USC's T.J. McDonald) he covets. Alabama guard/center Barrett Jones was quite a steal in Round 4, but Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy can be a bigger one in Round 5. Grade: B-plus.”
Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports: “It’s very unusual for such a small wide receiver (Austin is all of 5-foot-8) to go in the top 10 of a draft, but the Rams were selecting as much for need as for value. St. Louis jumped eight spots to get the speedy Austin, who has a chance to turn the Rams into the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf. Yeah, I said it, but that’s what Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are obviously building. That said, it wouldn’t be a Fisher draft if there weren’t a problem child in the group. Ogletree is that guy who fell all the way to No. 30 despite top-10 athletic ability. Then again, if Ogletree gets too far out of line, Fisher can have Jones put him in his place. Jones is one tough dude. Grade: B.”
And here are some assessments that didn’t include a letter grade:
Mike Tanier, Sports on Earth: “The Rams have now drafted six wide receivers in three years, yet they never seem to have two good ones to rub together. Grabbing two players who made Geno Smith look good could make Sam Bradford look great. Austin Pettis, Brian Quick and Chris Givens can join Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin in an aerial circus that makes the Packers look tame, though Rams receivers have a bad habit of a) getting injured; b) averaging 8.7 yards per catch; or c) both. Austin and Bailey are less project-like than other recent draftees, which is important, because the Rams have been a project for too long.”
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: “Second-year coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead are committed to adding talented playmakers on both sides of the ball. That philosophy led the Rams to trade up into the top 10 to land Tavon Austin. The diminutive superstar will give Sam Bradford a dynamic slot receiver to target between the hashes. Additionally, the Rams picked up Austin's college teammate, Stedman Bailey, to serve as a possession receiver. Factor in Barrett Jones solidifying the middle of the offensive line, and the Rams have made major strides in upgrading the talent around Bradford. Defensively, the team picked up a top-10 talent in Alec Ogletree and a hard-hitting safety in T.J. McDonald. Both are primed for big roles as rookies. St. Louis could be back in postseason contention in 2013.”
Jason La Canfora, CBSSports.com: “When you combine the draft with what the Rams have already done in free agency -– landing left tackle Jake Long without having to break the bank, adding a tight end with a special skill set in Jared Cook (and someone Fisher knows well from their days together with the Titans) -- and figure this team has most players just on the cusp of entering their prime years and still improving, it's hard not to be excited about them. The Rams are built to compete in this bare-knuckle division. (Who could imagine saying that about this division just a few years ago?) Everyone will be watching their film against San Francisco for some kind of blueprint for playing the *****.”
Re: Tipsheet: Experts Give Rams High Grades For Draft
I'm VERY pleased with how the last two off seasons have been executed under Fisher and Snead.
In my opinion, there's really only one thing that's clearly wrong with this team, and that's depth.
However, when you have the biggest roster turnover in the history of the NFL, its going to take a few years to get that quality depth. Another year of FA and Drafting and the Rams could be a deep team ready to be serious contenders in the playoffs.
I'm finally starting to get over that feeling that the Rams are destined to suck forever, like the Cubs.