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A Contingency Plan: Bar-bq's Guide to the Rams First Round.
As you're all no doubt aware, the Rams have four primary options in round one. All have been debated to great extent, but I do wonder if anyone has stopped to collate the different scenarios each pick would induce? So here it is. One man's (Sort of; I'm almost there, I swear!) guide to the Rams first pick, and what each pick does for the franchise.
Let's first assume that the Dolphins have forefitted their selection at number one overall, and all prospects are avilable for discussion.
Scenario One: Draft Jake Long, OT, Michigan
The Rams biggest area of offensive concern in 2007 was...well, let's be honest...the entire offense. We were undoubtedly crippled by injuries, mostly along the offensive line, and this basically offset the ability of the rest of the offense to produce points (and, IMO, facilitated year #3 of the Scott Linehan regieme). Orlando Pace has played just 9 of 32 games in two years due to injury and Alex Barron's play has been average at best on either side of the line. Barron's contract expires in two years, and, for all we know, Pace may already have reached his own NFL expiry date. Surely, this makes Jake Long a nice choice. He has the potential to come in and compete right away aginst Barron, and failing that, compete to play guard for his first season, or play a backup role, learning the ropes from Pace.
The problem, however, lies in the potential lack of production we'd get from Long as a backup, if he can't win his way onto the line in year number one, and the disadvatages we'd put ourselves in with regards to the defensive line. The defensive line has not been adressed at all this offseason (whereas the OL has through resignings of experienced backups and the signing of the versatile Jacob Bell) and arguably holds greater need than the OL, as there is still no projected starting DE across from Leonard Little, who is 34. The candidates at DE would be strong at the top of round two, but failing a selection there, value falls off rather fast. The best scenario pending the selection of Jake Long is the selection of a DE such as Quentin Groves or Lawrence Jackson in the second, and grabbing a WR, potentially Lavelle Hawkins in round three. Not a bad first three rounds, but could our gaps have been filled in a better way?
A potential first three rounds could look something like this.
Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn (if we're lucky)
Lavelle Hawkins, WR, Cal
Scenario Two: Draft Chris Long, DE, Virginia
It's no secret that alongside offensive injuries, the Rams were crippled in 2007 by the lack of a pass rush, mustering just 5.5 sacks from the defensive end position during a sixteen game season. Leonard Little is 34 years and coming off season ending surgery, and James Hall, acquired in a trade with Detriot, was solid against the run but did little against the pass, prompting his release. He was re-signed, but his status as a starter is far from certain, leaving no definte starter opposite Little, who appears to have rehabilitated well. Chris Long is my favourite candidate in this draft, who projects to be an every down defensive end in the NFL. He appears to be very good against both the run and the pass, and does not appear to come fully equipped with a big red button marked "off". The selection of Chris Long facilitates the potential selection of a WR and OT in the ensuing rounds depending on best value.
Again, concerns lie in what ELSE we could have. We are, make no mistake, spoilt for choice. Vernon Gholston appears to be the more physically dominant pass rush specialist, Glenn Dorsey may be the best DT prospect to come out in a long, long time whilst Jake Long best caters to the needs we have along the "other" line.
The first three rounds may play out in this fashion.
Chris Long, DE, Virginia
James Hardy, WR, Indianna
Oniell Cousins, OT, UTEP
Scenario Three: Draft Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
Need wise, you're looking at the same scenario as Chris Long. The only distinction between the two lies in their areas of specialty. Vernon Gholston appears to be the pass rush specialist akin to Shawne Merriman of the San Diego Chargers, whilst Chris Long looks to be much more of an all around prospect, in the mould of his father. What's often unstated is the correlation between the play of Pro Bowl NT Jamaal Williams and Merriman in that 3-4 defense. I point to the Colts V. Chargers game of 2006 as an example. The Colts were coming in at about 11-0, and Peyton Manning and the rest of that offence were virtually unstoppable. They were stopped.
Jamaal Williams got in Manning's face, and Merriman reaped the reward.
So the question must be asked. Is our interior play that strong? It's unkown just how good Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan can be (though they looked pretty damn good last season as rookies). The selection of Gholston is also validated by (what I consider to be the most under-rated move of the Ram offseason) the re-singing of James Hall. Hall was, by all accounts, solid against the run last season. Run-stopping is not Gholston's forte, but the benefit of having Hall there is that he can play some running downs, and allow Gholston to learn by example. Again, this selection is on par with Chris Long in terms of what it allows us to do in terms of finding value at WR and OT in later rounds.
But then, does it make sense to draft a potential part-time player at number two overall when you could have an every-downer in Chris Long, or even Jake Long? He is admittedly one dimensional, but WHAT a dimension it is! Perhaps, his one dimension is too good to pass up.
Here's what may unfold.
Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
Sam Barker, OT, USC
Lavelle Hawkins, WR, Cal
Scenario Four: Select Glenn Dorsey, DT, Louisianna State University
Defensive Tackle was far from the Rams largest area of concern last season. Adam Carriker, Clifton Ryan, LaRoi Glover and Claude Wroten did a great job of making the Rams defense competitve inside, allowing only one one hundred yard rusher all season, Najeh Davenport, who is becoming somewhat of a "Bogey" player for the Rams (speaking in golfing terms). Why, therein would you want to add another piece to the puzzle? Do too many cooks not spoil the DT broth? The validation of the Dorsey argument lies in his status as postentially one of the biggest talents to come out in years, a talent who his advocates say is not to be passed up.
Now, problems arise when considering what to do with the existing players, and whther or not the selection of Dorsey compromises the best abilites of said players. Some say that the plan is to play Carriker at DE, because that is his "natural" position. I disagree. Surely, with the lack our production from the DE position last season, and the realative success of the intereior, if the coaches felt Carriker was best suited to play defensive end, he would have played there. If the plan is to draft Dorsey to play Carriker at DE on running downs, and NT on passing downs as he did this season, surely you're compromising his best abilities. As Haslett states, his best position is at Under Tackle. However, I can understand the benefits. For one, you're getting a great player, perhaps one of the best to come out in recent memory. You're not at all hindering your ability to stop the run. But you still are not adressing your pass rush on the outside.
Theoretically if were to take Dorsey, and were able to land a Quentin Groves or Chris Ellis at the top of the second (both are players who seem to specialise more against the pass than the run), our first two rounds could conceivably be heralded a success. But then, we compromise our ability to select an OT, or a WR. We're perilously thin at both positions as of now, and injuries along the OL destroyed us last year (like anybody needs reminding).
But perhaps, as we've signed Jacob Bell (who is versatile enough to play either guard or tackle and has done so throughout his NFL career) and now have backups with a plethora of starting experience, OL is a need that we could potentially glaze over until round four. It's a huge gamble to take, but for some, I can see that it can be considered worth the risk as you're getting a great player. The Defense, after all, wins the championships.
In this context, though, is Dorsey considered a luxury pick? If we can address our greatest need and add an every down player, rather than a player who creates a need for rotation, whilst not necessarily adressing our biggest area of defensive concern, why not do so?
Three rounds may play out like this.
Glenn Dorsey, UT, LSU
Chris Ellis, DE, Virginia Tech / Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn / Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC
Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
So there you have it. One man's guide to the Rams first pick. Undoubtedly, there are other players who could be taken, but these are the Big 4. Honestly, I can see the value in all of them. I at this stage, have Chris Long over the rest, with Jake a close second.
Last edited by Bar-bq; -04-17-2008 at 10:26 AM.
Re: A Contingency Plan: Bar-bq's Guide to the Rams First Round.
Very nice synopsis, Bar-bq. I didn't spot any real holes in it whilst reading through other than under the Dorsey pick, it's gone on record, not that it matters much, that Carriker would play next to Dorsey if we picked him. The question now just is... which one to take?
Re: A Contingency Plan: Bar-bq's Guide to the Rams First Round.
I really see no way the Rams can mess up here,I will be happy with any of these top 4 picks since I think any of them will help us from day 1,having said that Jake Long would still be my first choice if available,many people are saying we need to keep Bulger upright and healthy so whats the best way to make that happen ? pick the best OT in the draft,if we can score points and keep the offense on the field longer that in it's self will make our defense better,the defense played well last year when they weren't asked to stay on the field 10-12 plays at a time all game long since the offense kept going 3 and out.I just don't think we can be sure about the health and play of our tackles now so why pass on a franchise tackle in the draft if you are given the chance to get one.
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