Analysis: Who will the Rams pick?
Analysis: Who will the Rams pick?
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Could Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler (6) be a St. Louis Ram?
With their board stacked, the Rams will spend a lot of time in the days leading up to Saturday's NFL draft mulling over first-round scenarios. Obviously, what happens in the top 10 will have a lot to do with what the Rams do at No. 11 overall.
When all is said and done, these eight names will have a lot to do with who the Rams take. One of the eight probably will be their pick: Davis, Bunkley, Huff, Sims, Greenway, Hill, Lawson and Cutler.
The one player the Rams would love to see fall to No. 11 is Maryland tight end Vernon Davis. The team is disappointed in returning starter Brandon Manumaleuna, who has missed almost all of the team's offseason conditioning program. Still, the team needs another tight end.
With or without Davis, it's a good crop of tight ends. UCLA's Marcedes Lewis and Colorado's Joe Klopfenstein should be good, solid pros, and one or both could be available to St. Louis in the second round.
But Davis is a difference-maker. Unfortunately for the Rams, just about every draft scenario has Davis gone before the Rams pick. Trade up? Well, Denver, with the No. 15 and No. 22 picks in the first round, tried to get ahead of San Francisco for Davis but found no takers. With no extra picks, the Rams lack the ammunition to move up unless they package a veteran player in the deal. Most mock drafts have Davis going to the ***** at No. 6 overall.
Minus Davis, almost all of the Rams' other first-round options involve defense. At the head of that list are Texas defensive back Michael Huff and Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley. (North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams and Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk will be gone by No. 11.)
Huff has speed and size but isn't a great tackler, and it remains to be seen whether he can play corner in the NFL after spending most of his college career at safety. (There are some indications that the Rams want him to play corner.)
Bunkley, who played part of last season on a bad leg, is a run stopper at heart, but he also uses brute strength to push into the backfield for sacks and pressures. Most mock drafts have Buffalo taking him at No. 8 overall. Huff probably won't get past Detroit at No. 9.
If that's the case, four options remain for the Rams at No. 11: linebackers Chad Greenway (Iowa) and Ernie Sims (Florida State), cornerback Tye Hill (Clemson) and defensive end-linebacker Manny Lawson (North Carolina State).
Sims is a speedy collision player who's considered an improved version of Pisa Tinoisamoa. Like Tinosamoa, Sims flies to the ball and plays with a lot of passion, but Sims is stronger and more explosive.
However, there is some concern about concussions with Sims; he had several in college, and continuing problems could shorten his NFL career. In many mock drafts, Sims goes to Arizona at No. 10 overall, just ahead of the Rams.
Greenway is a smart, hard-working linebacker whose infectious personality was a hit with Rams coaches during his pre-draft visit here two weeks ago. If taken by the Rams, he would be asked to play the strongside position (on the tight end's side). Greenway is good in coverage, but he's not very strong; he put up so-so workout numbers at the NFL scouting combine, and some evaluators don't think he's a first-round athlete.
No one doubts Lawson's athleticism. At 6 feet 5 and 241 pounds, he has speed and would be adept at backside pursuit. He ran a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, a staggering number for someone his size. But where would the Rams play him? Is he an end or a linebacker?
Ideally, he's a rush linebacker in a 3-4 front, but despite dropping hints about running the 3-4 at least part of the time, it's unclear whether the Rams will do so this season under new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
If Davis, Bunkley, Huff and Sims are all gone by No. 11, the Rams could opt against taking a linebacker or end-linebacker and upgrade the secondary. If that's the case, they would turn to Tye Hill, the cornerback from Clemson.
Hill is one of the fastest players in the draft. He has everything a good corner should have except for great hands and size. He's 5-9 1/2 and 185 pounds but consistently runs the 40 in the 4.3 range. Despite playing running back as a redshirt freshman in 2002, which meant he handled the football often, Hill posted a modest five interceptions in three years as a starting corner (2003-2005) for Clemson. However, it appears Haslett prefers bigger corners, and that could work against Hill.
The wild card in any first-round draft scenario for the Rams is the quarterback position. Matt Leinart of Southern Cal, Vince Young of Texas and Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt could all go in the top 10. But one of them could slip to the Rams at 11.
Coach Scott Linehan hasn't been shy about praising Young. But if the Rams select Young, they would have to change their offense to suit him. That probably would include using the shotgun frequently and simplifying reads.
It shouldn't get to that. Young could go as early as No. 3 overall to Tennessee, and he isn't expected to get past Oakland at No. 7. Cutler is a different matter. Linehan likes him a lot, and there are some draft scenarios where Cutler is still on the board at No. 11.
Would the Rams really take Cutler despite more pressing needs at tight end and defense? Stay tuned.
Re: Analysis: Who will the Rams pick?
This article is kind of all over the place.
I can't see Lawson going at #11. He would be a role player for us this year.
There are questions about Hill, Greenway, and Sims - if they are worthy of such a high pick.
Ngata is not on that list, why? Ngata has great closing speed and great initial quickness off the ball.
Bunkley is good. What bothers me in the Ngata - Bunkley comparison is that Ngata has inched back and Bunkley has moved forward due ONLY to their workouts.
At the season's end, going by their football performance.. Ngata was a top 10 pick and Bunkley was a Middle of the first and distinctly the 2nd DT in the draft.
I am really leery of players that move forward due to their workouts. We all know that track speed doesn't always translate to the football field. A chiseled physique may impress the guys at the combine, but it's never made a Tackle or made a block.
I have to admit I'm intrigued by Manny Lawson. But, do we have the luxury of taking the risk? Lawson's numbers are off the charts; however, he's a odd duck. If you take him, I think you have to create a special role for him on Defense, where you keep him out of coverage - and occasionally play him at DE in OBVIOUS passing situations. This guy simply can NOT stand up against NFL tackles in the Running game (as a DEF END).