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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Hawk heads strong class at LB

    Hawk heads strong class at LB
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Wednesday, Apr. 12 2006

    In terms of Rams draft lore, the team's season-ending victory over Dallas may
    go down as the A.J. Hawk Game. In other words, the day they lost any chance of
    selecting Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk in the first round.

    Had the Rams lost to Dallas, they would have picked at No. 8 overall and at
    least had a fighting chance at Hawk, widely considered the best defensive
    player in the draft not named Mario Williams.

    But as a result of that victory, the Rams will pick No. 11. Unless Hawk robs a
    bank in the next couple of weeks, St. Louis has no chance at him. So what will
    the Rams be missing?

    At the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Cleveland Browns coach Romeo
    Crennel was asked if there was an impact linebacker in this draft class.

    "There's one guy," Crennel said. "He's right down the street (in) Columbus. The
    initials are 'A.J.'"

    As in Hawk.

    "This guy's a playmaker, he runs all over the place, and he runs to the ball,"
    Crennel said. "He's got some size, some speed, some production. I like all of
    those things."

    Who wouldn't? A two-time All-American and the 2005 Big Ten defensive player of
    the year, Hawk is an aggressive pass rusher, is smooth in coverage and is an
    instinctive run defender. In terms of athletic ability, he probably isn't in
    the class of a Brian Urlacher, but why quibble? He has everything necessary to
    be a highly successful pro for years to come.

    So add Hawk to the long line of elite linebackers to come out of Ohio State.

    "The best thing about being there, the older guys would come back and let us
    know how they did things, and how to handle yourself on and off the field,"
    Hawk said. "I have a lot of respect for them. I grew up hearing about them from
    my dad and other people.

    "(Chris) Spielman is always around. He has a radio show in Columbus - does some
    TV stuff. Randy Gradishar was an honorary captain for a game my junior year.
    Mike Vrabel is always back working out with us. Andy Katzenmoyer. The list goes
    on."

    Hawk won't be the only Buckeyes linebacker drafted this year. Fellow outside
    linebacker Bobby Carpenter figures to go later in the first round. Middle
    linebacker Anthony Schlegel also should get drafted, although probably not on
    the first day.

    For the Rams, or anyone missing out on Hawk, there are many other linebacker
    alternatives this year.

    "I think it's a very good group," Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
    "There's size, and there's depth."

    For example, Big Ten rival Iowa nearly matches Ohio State when it comes to
    linebacker prospects. Chad Greenway, who paid a pre-draft visit to Rams Park
    this week, should go somewhere in the middle of the first round.

    Greenway's stock seems to be dropping based on the offseason workout circuit,
    and his strength seems to be an issue after he did only 16 bench-press
    repetitions at the combine. But he was very good in coverage in college and
    would seem to have the makings of a good weakside linebacker in the NFL.

    Greenway was very productive at Iowa, but fellow Hawkeye Abdul Hodge led the
    team in tackles the past three years. Hodge (6 feet, 236) doesn't have imposing
    size for a middle linebacker, but neither did Seattle's Lofa Tatupa en route to
    a Pro Bowl campaign as a Seahawks rookie last season.

    Florida State's Ernie Sims, Alabama's DeMeco Ryans and Texas-El Paso's Thomas
    Howard all are active, aggressive outside linebackers. And Hodge is just one of
    an impressive group of inside 'backers.

    "Inside linebacker is probably the strongest group I've seen in the 20 years
    I've been doing this," said Kevin Colbert, director of football operations for
    Pittsburgh. "It's strong at the top, strong in the middle, and there are some
    kids on the second day that will be contributors, if not starters."

    It all comes down to picking the right one.

    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Hawk heads strong class at LB

    Inside linebacker is probably the strongest group I've seen in the 20 years I've been doing this," said Kevin Colbert, director of football operations for Pittsburgh. "It's strong at the top, strong in the middle, and there are some kids on the second day that will be contributors, if not starters."
    This is a huge statement considering some of the drafts in the past 20 years.

    Take '96 for example... Randall Godfrey, Tedy Bruschi, Donnie Edwards, Ray Lewis, Earl Holmes, Zach Thomas

    Most talented in 20 years? This should be an interesting class.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  3. #3
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    Re: Hawk heads strong class at LB

    Hawk would not have been there at 8 either. I don't care what our record is or who we are playing, NEVER lose to increase your draft selection. Losing only equals one thing: more losing.

  4. #4
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    Re: Hawk heads strong class at LB

    Yeah, yeah, but still, I wish we would have lost that game.

  5. #5
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    Re: Hawk heads strong class at LB

    What was the name of the linebacker that played for the Seahawks that had the mohawk and was supposed to be the ultimate defensive player, but ended up a bust?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: Hawk heads strong class at LB

    Bryan "The Boz" Bosworth: And I disagree with you TX, winning that last game for a lame-duck coaching staff and a bunch of lousy ex-Rams players served no purpose at all; well except to screw up our draft position. You cannot "build" on a last game win when you know you are going to do a major overhaul several weeks later.

    WHAT SAY YE?

  7. #7
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    Re: Hawk heads strong class at LB

    Eh, I just wouldn't have the same respect for the team if they went out and threw a game. It would be nice to have the higher pick, but really now, how do you tell a team "well you guys have played so poorly this year, that now I want you to lose this game so the front office can get better replacements for you losers in the next draft"? A player should be out to prove himself in every game, especially during a bad season. If I was in that game, I'd be thinking of it as part of the audition for whomever the next coach was going to be. The purpose for the team is that the players keep that sense of "never say die." I wouldn't be surprised if some of the veterans just didn't feel like coming back if the season ended like that. Just my two cents.

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