Wagoners mail bag
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
MOBILE , Ala. Ė
Senior Writer Nick Wagoner will answer your questions about anything and everything Rams or Senior Bowl this week from Mobile , Alabama .
So, letís suppose the Dolphins pick Glenn Dorsey, or Matt Ryan or someone who they think is a good pick. If Darren McFadden was on the board, would the Rams pick him? I mean, from what I've been hearing he is a great talented player, and should someone of that skill level not be passed up? I know the Rams have many issues, but is it worth it to grab him should they be able to?
NW: This is a question we will almost certainly find out the answer to, Eric and itís certainly a good one. Personally, I believe Steven Jackson is one of the three best backs in the league. The Rams clearly have a lot of needs and you could always argue a 3-13 team simply needs to take the best player regardless of position. I think in this scenario, a lot of thought will be given to drafting him, but there will be plenty of thought about moving down and trying to get extra picks from a team that covets McFadden. To answer your question more directly, I think the Rams will explore all of the options, but ultimately McFadden wonít be in a Rams uniform in 2008.
Whatís the interest in looking at Owen Schmitt; does he get a look?
NW: John, Good question. Schmitt was a guy I wanted to see when I got here also because I was impressed with him in the Fiesta Bowl. I left this morningís practice disappointed in what I saw, though. Check out our Scoutís Take feature for more on Schmitt, but two of the three scouts I spoke with brought him up and not for positive reasons. They all agree heís a bit stiff. One fullback making a better impression is Arkansasí Peyton Hillis. He is built like a brick and has surprisingly good athleticism. He could be someone of interest for the Rams as they continue to remodel the offense around centerpiece Steven Jackson.
Now with the passing of the dear Ms. Georgia Frontiere what is going to happen to my beloved team? And what major changes are going to happen so we can have a winning season again?
NW: Obviously, the loss of Georgia is one that is tough for everyone considering all she did for the franchise and the city of St. Louis. She will be greatly missed. To answer your question, though, the Rams will be under control of her son, Chip. He and his sister Lucia will be the majority owners for the time being and probably for at least the short term (two-four year) future. Beyond that is anyoneís guess, but Mr. Rosenbloom ďgets itĒ and understands the importance of all that has happened in St. Louis and for the Rams. As for major changes, clearly there are plenty that need to be made, but itís still too early to tell what those will entail. Expect the Rams to be aggressive in free agency if thereís a name player that can help and they will once again spend to the salary cap to improve the situation.
As a ram fan what positions in the senior bowl should I be focusing on?
NW: To be completely honest with you, Nick, as a Rams fan you should be focused on every position in the Senior Bowl. There isnít a position on the team where the Rams couldnít use some help. Obviously, the offensive and defensive lines are probably the most pressing areas, but receiver, linebacker and safety are also positions of need. Keep an eye on quarterback, too, as the Rams have interest in finding a youngster to develop.
Nick lets say the Rams take Chris Long with their first round pick, what would you say theyíre looking at in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks?
NW: Of course, this all depends on what they come out of free agency with, but assuming they grab a speedy receiver in that market, I donít think it would be out of line to go offensive line with at least two of those three picks. They have to get another young offensive tackle and some help on the interior, particularly at center would be helpful. If they donít get a receiver in free agency, that becomes a need. Safety, linebacker and quarterback would also be on the list. If it was me, Iíd load up on offensive linemen.
Sedrick Ellis has looked like a monster so far in the senior bowl practices, any chance the Rams trade down a few spots (like 4 or 5 spots) and select Ellis?
NW: Scott, good eye. You have clearly been paying attention. Ellis is the best player here and thereís no doubt about it. I mentioned in my Senior Bowl preview that he could be in play if the Rams do move down via trade and I think he would be an excellent addition. Hereís a question, though. If Ellis is this good, how much better could Glenn Dorsey possibly be? Nothing against Dorsey as I havenít seen him in person, but heíd have to be off the charts to be that much better than Ellis. I donít know where the Rams value Ellis in relation to Dorsey, but a scout from a different NFC team told me he has them equal on his board. If thatís the case, it would make sense for the Rams to move down and get an equal player and pick up some extra picks, wouldnít it? Weíll have to wait and see, but thereís no question Ellis has the tools to be a special player.
Hey Nick if you could, tell me what you think of Iowa 's Charles Godfrey, I heard he could make a good switch to FS in the NFL with his athleticism, and he's a really good tackler. What would you think of him in the 2nd round? Or keep him at CB.
NW: Josh, I didnít get a great opportunity to focus on Godfrey, but I promise I will look at him more and give a better answer later this week. From what I saw, I think you are absolutely correct in that he doesnít appear to be a cornerback at the next level. Heís 5í11, 207 pounds, good size for a corner, but not necessarily too big. I donít know if heís second round material, especially since he would potentially be a safety at the next level, but thereís no doubt the Rams could use some help at safety, particularly the strong safety spot where Corey Chavous is getting up there in years. Again, Iíll watch him more closely Wednesday and throughout the week and get back to you with more.
What do you think the chances are of the Rams trading down in the first round? I would hate to see that happen. It is exciting to watch the draft knowing your team is going to pick second.
NW: Sean, I think the chances are pretty slim. That said, you always have to have an open mind in these situations. The Rams need help at a variety of positions and one way to help that would be to acquire more picks. Still, this draft is deep overall, but doesnít have more than three or four ďsure thingsĒ if there is such a thing. If you pick second, you guarantee yourself a shot at the likes of a Chris Long, Glenn Dorsey or Darren McFadden. If you move down, itís a little more of a crapshoot. Thatís the risk of moving down. In this case, I wouldnít expect a major move unless someone falls in love with McFadden and offers a huge package to slide up and get him. It would take something crazy, but whispers around Mobile say Oakland is in love with him already. Weíll have to wait and see how it plays out.
Nick's Mailbag: Wednesday
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
How does Delaware QB Joe Flacco look? I saw him play in a couple of the Division I-AA playoff games and liked him. Is he someone that the Rams could look at in the later rounds as a developmental prospect? What about Michigan QB Chad Henne?
NW: Honestly, I had high hopes for Flacco coming down here and had my eye on him as a potential developmental guy for the Rams. But so far I have been disappointed with what Iíve seen. The people who evaluate talent for a living seem to agree. Itís not that he canít play, but he simply doesnít do anything that stands out. Heís pretty mobile and has a good feel in the pocket, but Iím not sure heíll ever be a starter in the NFL. Henne is the best and most consistent of the quarterbacks here. I think he can be a very solid NFL quarterback for a long time. Not sure heís a starter, either, but I donít think youíd mind having him around as a No. 2.
Which FB at the Senior Bowl would be a better fit for the Rams (possibly H-Back) if the Rams choose to pick that position? Arkansasí Peyton Hillis or West Virginia's Owen Schmitt?
NW: I wrote about this a little yesterday, but to me right now itís a slam dunk. Iíd go with Hillis. Schmitt is just so stiff in all of his movements. I love Hillisí versatility. He can block, he can catch, he can run, he does it all. I wouldnít mind seeing him in Rams colors next year. He kind of reminds me of a bigger version of Brian Leonard capable of working as a lead blocker. The others here donít wow anyone. LSUís Jacob Hester is a man with no position and Schmitt has been disappointing.
Who has stood out at Offensive left tackle this week at the Senior Bowl that would be there at the 2nd pick of the 2nd round for the Rams?
NW: Good question, Cory. I came here with an eye toward Boston Collegeís Gosder Cherilus, but so far he has been uneven at best. Sam Baker has not been impressive, either. As far as guys at the Senior Bowl, I think the best tackle here is Vanderbiltís Chris Williams. He has at least been the most consistent. Heís a large man with good feet and a nasty streak. Keep an eye on Nebraskaís Carl Nicks, also. There are a lot of tackles in this draft and I believe the Rams can get one as good or better than Michiganís Jake Long with their second pick. Pittís Jeffrey Otah and Kansasí Anthony Collins are solid guys, also and they arenít even here.
Texas WR Limas Sweed is going to play for the first time this weekend since injuring his knee in early October. How has he looked? Is he faster then most think? His size would make him an ideal fit for Linehan's offense.
NW: Sweed is up and down. Yesterday he made a terrific one-handed catch on a deep in route that wowed the crowd. But he isnít consistent catching the ball and his routes are average. He seems like he has the physical ability, but his speed doesnít blow you away, either. He does have good size, but this offense needs an influx of speed at the receiver position, something he doesnít have enough of to be a match.
Hey Nick do you think that the rams should look for another big time DT like Sedrick Ellis since LaíRoi Glover is clearly passing his prime?
NW: I absolutely think that fortifying the defensive line has to be one of the top priorities for this team in the offseason. I love Ellis as you can probably tell, but Iím not sure heís a fit in this defense. Heís a one gap kind of player with explosiveness up the field, but Iím not sure how heíd fit in St. Louis. If the Rams played a similar style to an Indianapolis or Tampa Bay, he might be at the top of the list. I donít think he canít play in the Ramsí defense, I just donít think heíd be worth the No. 2 pick for this system. LSUís Glenn Dorsey, on the other handÖ
Hey Nick, with the potential departure of Brandon Chillar through free agency are there any linebackers at the Senior Bowl that have impressed you? What do you think about Xavier Adibi or Dan Connor? Are there any guys there that might be interesting to the Rams on the second day of the Draft?
NW: I think linebacker is going to be a need for this team as it appears Chillar probably wonít be back on the strong side. There are some in house candidates for the job such as Chris Draft and Quinton Culberson, but I think drafting a Ďbacker is certainly in the realm of possibility. Iím not sold on Connor though he has a good day today. He is probably a weak side guy. Adibi is interesting because he can rush the passer. Guys that intrigue me who could play strong side and be around in the later rounds include Mississippi Stateís Titus Brown (who I love) and UCLAís Bruce Davis. Davis is a pass rushing, hybrid type with a lot of room to grow. Brown does it all and would be a tremendous pick if the Rams could get him later than the second round.
Hi Nick! Many of us fans would like the Rams to select Chris Long; however, he has to be passed over by the Tuna first. Do you think there is a chance that Parcells might pass on C.L.? Also could you name some O-line and WR players they could conceivably select on the first day?
NW: I think there is a chance that Parcells could pass on Long in favor of Glenn Dorsey. However, with each passing day, I believe more and more that the Long/Parcells marriage just makes too much sense. Long is just the type of player Parcells like to build around and he would be a fit in the Dolphins defense. That said, I had an interesting conversation with a scout Tuesday afternoon about this very topic. The scout believes that Long would not be a fit as a 3-4 end and he would make sense as a bull rushing, Aaron Kampman type of power end in a 4-3. In his mind, Long is a bit of a risk because of this. His exact words ďFor that kind of money, I want it to be as close as possible to a guaranteed 10 sacks, Iím not sure you get that with Long.Ē Make no mistake, I like Long a lot and the scout likes him a lot too, but maybe on further inspection he isnít as much of a sure thing as weíd like.
As for the OL and WR help you mentioned, hereís some names of guys that could be interesting. On the offensive line, Kansasí Anthony Collins, Vanderbiltís Chris Williams, Pittsburghís Jeff Otah (all tackles), USCís Chilo Rachal and Drew Radovich, Virginiaís Branden Albert (guards), Wake Forestís Steve Justice and Arizona Stateís Mike Pollak (centers) are possibilities. The tackles mentioned will likely be gone by the end of round two and Rachal could also. The rest might be on the board in round three, though itís all still very early in this process. As for receivers, itís a disappointing group. The Rams need a speedster that can stretch the field. Since there isnít one worth drafting with the second pick, hereís some that could be candidates because of their speed in the middle rounds: Kansas Stateís Jordy Nelson, Californiaís Lavelle Hawkins, Houstonís Donnie Avery and Virginia Techís Eddie Royal.
Nick's Mailbag: Thursday
Thursday, January 24, 2008
By Nick Wagoner
MOBILE, Ala. Ė
Will the Rams pick the best athlete, or a pressing need?
NW: Angel, this is the age old question of best player available versus filling a need. Obviously, the ideal situation is for those two things to come together and meet in the middle. I believe Adam Carriker was a perfect match of need and value last year. This year, I think the Rams are picking in a spot that allows them to find that match also. When you are 3-13, you generally need help just about everywhere. I believe Chris Long and Glenn Dorsey would both be the best available guys that also fit pressing needs. I think the only way you are taking a player who is the best athlete that might not fit a need is if you went with Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. With Steven Jackson on his contract year, you could make an argument that even McFadden would fit a need. Alas, I donít see the Rams going that direction, but things could change between now and April. Thatís a lot of time for major shake ups to happen, especially with free agency happening before the draft.
When I look at the current Rams WR corps, I see a lack of speed. But more importantly, the WR's seem like they can not get separation from the DB's. Can you name some WR's that have shown some ability to get separation from DB's this week during practices for the Senior Bowl and/or where the Rams might target such a WR? On a side note Nick, thank you for doing the blog and answering questions for us Rams fans regarding the Senior Bowl. I live in Denver and it is hard to get any Rams news or notes from the national media let alone the lack of local (St. Louis media) coverage of the team. You are doing a great service for us in Rams Nation and I want to commend you on the high quality job you are doing.
NW: Cory, first thanks for your thanks. And thank you for writing in because without mail there could be no mailbag. I think you are spot on in your evaluation of the current Rams receiver corps. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt still run such excellent routes that they can create enough separation to make plays, but there is certainly an overall lack of speed and no true deep threat. Team President John Shaw said as much in the story I wrote at the beginning of December. Finding a receiver with speed who can stretch the field is one of this teamís top offseason priorities. Finding that player in the draft might be difficult if the talent at the Senior Bowl is any indication. There are only about two receivers here that I believe have the speed, ability and route running capacity to make a difference, especially since the Rams wonít be taking a wide out in the first round. Californiaís Lavelle Hawkins has been the most impressive receiver this week though he struggled some Thursday morning. One guy that intrigues me is Kansas Stateís Jordy Nelson. He has speed to spare, can return kicks and has the attitude you are looking for since heís a former walk-on. He plays with that chip on his shoulder like he always has something to prove. You have to like that. As for when the Rams would draft a receiver, it could be as early as round two though I think round three or four would make sense. I believe Nelson could be there that late, but Hawkins has made himself some money this week and moved up on a lot of teamsí boards. Of course, none of that matters if the Rams opt to pursue that speed receiver in free agency. Bernard Berrian, anyone?
Fakhir brown is my uncle he plays for the St. Louis Rams.
NW: He certainly does.
He Nick, I have been watching the Senior Bowl practices on NFL network. If Rams don't go with Jake Long in the 1st round, which one of the OT playing in the senior bowl is the best fit for the Rams and would be available in the 2nd round? Thanks.
NW: I think you have a good idea in mind of opting for an offensive tackle in round two. There are plenty of tackles in this draft and I believe you can get one as good as Long in the second round because of the depth at the position. Unfortunately, many of the tackles here have been slightly disappointing. I had high hopes for USCís Sam Baker and Boston Collegeís Gosder Cherilus, but Baker isnít particularly strong or athletic and Cherilus is inconsistent. The best tackle here, in my humble opinion, is Vanderbiltís Chris Williams. He is huge with solid technique and good feet. The question scouts I have spoken with have about him is his attitude. They donít think he has the mean streak to be a dominant tackle. But Williams got in a scuffle with Texas A&M end Red Bryant on Wednesday afternoon and looked plenty nasty in the process. One sleeper I like who could last into round three or even later is Nebraskaís Carl Nicks. Talk about nasty, this guy has that Incognito-esque disposition with the strength to match.
Any strong safeties out there do anything to impress this week?
NW: There isnít much in this draft at all in terms of safeties. Notre Dameís Tom Zbikowski is here and he has the name value, but Iím not sure he has the ability. Heís a bit stiff in coverage. He looks like he enjoys hitting, but thereís more to playing the position than that and Iím not sure he has that. Jamar Adams of Michigan, Texasí Marcus Griffin and Californiaís Thomas DeCoud have some ability, but have been inconsistent. Simeon Castille of Alabama is also here, but hasnít done much to stand out one way or another. Clearly, the Rams need to find a young safety to groom, but Iím not sure if he will come from the Senior Bowl or even this draft.
Are there are any small-school prospects at the Senior Bowl that have shown flashes and could be 'sleeper' picks in the draft? I see guys like o-linemen Chad Rinehart from Northern Iowa and Heath Benedict from Newberry College as well as WR Dexter Jackson from App State and DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State are on the rosters. Have any of these guys shown you anything that might be intriguing and worth a pick in the draft?
NW: Howís James Westfall? Good question, I have been trying to watch some of these guys as the week has gone on and a couple of players certainly look like they belong. I think Rinehart is interesting as a potential late round interior lineman. But there are moments where Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has really flashed some big time ability. He has a nose for the ball and seems to have an excellent understanding of the nuances of his position. He has excellent size and could potentially play safety some day if need be. One other small school guy that has occasionally caught my eye is Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Jason Jones. He is surrounded by line talent such as Sedrick Ellis and Lawrence Jackson and he seems to have stepped up his game to match.
Has Colt Brennan improved as the week has gone on? I have watched most of the Senior Bowl practices on NFL Network and he seemed to be getting a real ear full from Mike Martz about his mechanics and needing to improve. Has he done anything to make himself look like a potential NFL prospect -- even after a couple years on the bench -- or is Colt Brennan just another Timmy Chang?
NW: Unfortunately for Colt, the answer is no. He has awkward mechanics and isnít particularly accurate nor does he have much in the way of arm strength. He has a long way to go to be a NFL quarterback. At this point, it appears he is more Timmy Chang than Tom Brady.
Nick, do you believe that the Rams should look for a corner later on in the draft? If so, who do you think would be a nice fit for them?
NW: I donít think you can ever have too many corners. I think that is one area the team will try to shore up later in the draft and perhaps find a diamond in the rough. The aforementioned Rodgers-Cromartie is intriguing as is Coloradoís Terrence Wheatley and LSUís Chevis Jackson among players that are here this week. Tye Hill is coming off an injury, Fakhir Brown is solid as is Ron Bartell, but you still donít know what you have in Jonathan Wade. And I believe itís always good to have competition, especially at competitive positions such as corner.
I have three questions regarding the off season draft picks.
1. Does the coach have a plan for the teamís offensive line?
2. Is the team staying in St. Louis or relocating?
3. Who is taken over the team after the death of the owner?
NW: 1. Absolutely. The first step is to get healthy. That means left tackle Orlando Pace, guard Richie Incognito and guard Mark Setterstrom. That would be an excellent start. After that, the Rams clearly need to get a young tackle who can compete for a starting spot and eventually take over one of those spots in the future. Also, more depth and a veteran for the interior where the center job figures to be open is high on the list of priorities.
2. The team is in St. Louis for the foreseeable future.
3. Chip Rosenbloom, son of Georgia Frontiere, is taking over the reins.
Re: Wagoners mail bag
I know the Cowboys were very interested in McFadden...
perhaps we get him and them make a big trade with them?
Fakhir brown is my uncle he plays for the St. Louis Rams.
NW: He certainly does."
Re: Wagoners mail bag
If the Dolphins snag Chris Long, the Rams phone is going to be lighting up. If I were the Rams, I'd trade our #2 for both the Cowboys #1's this year.