Armey assesses Rams' draft prospects

BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
Wednesday, Apr. 20 2005

Charley Armey could dissect football prospects all day. It’s what he does. This
is his time of year, the week leading into the NFL Draft.

It’s like one loooooong Christmas Eve for a kid waiting to open his gifts.

Armey chatted it up with the media Wednesday over lunch -– before heading back
for more meetings at Rams Park, to go over background checks with security
experts, medical records with doctors and late prospect developments with his
scouts.

“There are a lot of Ryan Leafs on the draft board,” Armey said, explaining his
need to get back to the office to do further research.

By late Thursday, the Rams draft board will be stacked and ready to go. During
his brief lunch break with reporters, Armey discussed a handful of particular
prospects.

Here is a sampling:


Alex Barron, T: The Rams must draft players they can teach to block, quickly.
This team needs a starting right tackle -– and Barron is clearly the top
prospect at that spot.

“He is a carbon copy of Orlando Pace,” Armey said. “Very athletic. He can do it
all. His agility is very, very good.” Trouble is, his effort varied from game
to game, which could keep him from going at the very top of the draft.

But he is unlikely to drop to the Rams, since the Houston Texans are said to
covet him.


Khalif Barnes, T: He is one of two top tackle prospects who could fall to the
Rams in the first round. “He is a guy much like (Barron), too.”


Jammal Brown, T: Many mock drafts have him going to the Rams at No. 19.
“Extremely physical,” Armey said. “Very strong, tough offensive lineman who can
dominate the line of scrimmage.”


Thomas Davis, S: He could be a small linebacker, like Pisa Tinoisamoa, or a
big, hard-hitting safety. He would be a likely target for the Rams should they
not land a tackle in the first round.

“We have him rated at safety,” Armey said. “He can play both. He is big, strong
and fast. We didn’t see anything he can’t do, that he needs to do, to play
either position.”


Troy Williamson, WR: The South Carolina star is almost universally rated behind
Braylon Edwards of Michigan and Mike Williams of USC. But Armey is smitten.

“He is an outstanding wide receiver,” he said. “I have him rated as the best
player in the draft. He happens to have unique ability. Nobody can cover him.”


Marlin Jackson, CB: He is a rarity at this position, a player with some size.
“He is one of those gifted football players. You can play him at safety, you
can play him at cornerback. He would be productive at both places.”


Richie Incognito, C-G-T: His checkered history and recent knee injuries caused
him to sink into the middle rounds. “He is a tough, natural, instinctive
football player,” Armey said. “I think his best position is guard.”


Kelvin Hayden, CB: He moved over from wide receiver and dazzled scouts last
season for Illinois. Armey cites him as a prime of example of the cornerback
depth this season. “Corners hold the draft board better than any other
position,” he said.


Maurice Clarett, RB: Over in our daily Tipsheet column, we’ve mocked the
yesterday Ohio State star on a routine basis. But the Rams would be intrigued
with him as a late-round draft pick.

“We did an extensive background check on him,” Armey said. “I sent an
investigator back to his high school.” The investigator couldn’t find anybody
to say something negative about him.

“Young people, a lot of strange things happen to them,” Armey said. “But he’s
never had problems with his coaches on the football field. We have not taken
him off our draft board. We will not take him off our draft board. We feel very
good about him right now.”


Damien Nash, RB: Armey expects the former St. Louis-area prep star and Missouri
standout to get drafted, albeit on the second day. “He’s on our draft board,”
Armey said. “There is not a specific need for us at running back. He’s a tough
kid. What I don’t like is he was always arguing with his coaches at Missouri.”