Monday, May 1, 2006

- Last year at this time, I wrote a column describing why I don't think draft classes should be graded the day after the draft. It's a practice that has become popular around the league and I understand why it's done, but for those of you emailing asking me to put a letter on what the Rams did this weekend, I am sorry to disappoint. Grading a draft class now would be like evaluating a college football team's haul on National Signing Day. There are too many mitigating factors for anyone to know what will actually happen in the coming years. Instead, I offer some highlights from the weekend that was.

- Player with the most upside: Fourth-round choice Victor Adeyanju. I really liked this kid before the draft and I know plenty of people in the building did as well. He has all of the physical tools, though he is a bit raw and is still learning the nuances of his position. But with his frame and athletic ability, he could easily follow in the footsteps of another unheralded Indiana defensive end, Chicago's Adewale Ogunleye. After getting an opportunity to chat with him and see how fired up he was to become a Ram, there's no doubt that this kid is going to come in ready to work. Great value in the fourth round and outstanding potential.

- Most exciting: First-round pick Tye Hill. Marques Hagans has a certain amount of that wow factor also, but anyone with the speed of Hill is automatically going to draw plenty of curious eyes. Hill says his fastest 40-yard dash time was 4.15 seconds. That's obscenely fast. One scout said Hill has everything a great cornerback has except for the size. Watching him on tape and his ability to close on the ball, he shouldn't have many problems making the transition to the next level.

- Low-round pick with the best chance to stick: Seventh-round guard Mark Setterstrom of Minnesota. Any offensive lineman that comes from that system is going to be an excellent run blocker. This kid is no different. Many had him pegged for the third round or better. He worked in a zone blocking scheme for the Gophers, but he seems to have a good grasp on what it takes to excel at the next level and has a nice chance to provide the Rams some youth and depth on the interior line.

- Player most reminiscent of a recent Ram: Third-round choice Jon Alston of Stanford. Alston has the hitting ability of a linebacker with the speed and size of a safety. Adam Archuleta II, anyone? Maybe he isn't as advanced as Archuleta was coming out of Arizona State, but many believe Alston could eventually have that type of impact as a roving safety who can blitz and come up in the box and stuff the run. Not to mention, he's extremely bright. Alston worked as a bio-medical research intern in his time at Stanford. He could probably give Ryan Fitzpatrick a run for his money.

- Biggest possible steal: Third-round defensive tackle Claude Wroten. This is a no brainer. Obviously, he has had some off the field issues, but the Rams rolled the dice for a reason. Wroten fell out of the first round because of those problems, but on film he is one of the most dominant players in the draft. Clearly, he has potential to not work out, but if he does hit, it's an absolute steal. Basically, the Rams moved down in the draft, acquired a pick (one they used on Wroten) and still got the player they want in Tye Hill. If it doesn't work out with Wroten, there isn't much lost. If it does, there is a lot gained.

- Best re-design of a position: Tight end. Joe Klopfenstein and Dominique Byrd provide a heck of a potential combination at the position. Klopfenstein can do just about anything and is an excellent athlete. Byrd can block in line and has outstanding hands. Maybe the position is lacking in experience, but it's not lacking in talent.

- All in all, kudos to Scott Linehan and Co. for being aggressive and adding depth at all of the positions that were needed. We'll wait and see how everything pans out.