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  1. #1
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    It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    02/21/2008


    Firing and hiring coaches can be a tough business in the NFL, so it has been a rough six weeks for Rams coach Scott Linehan.

    But the hiring of Terry Shea (quarterbacks) and Bob Saunders (offensive assistant) became official this week. The only vacancy on Linehan’s staff is an assistant strength and conditioning coach — which means, just in time for the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s time for Linehan to play catch-up on personnel.

    “But that’s kind of what the Combine and March are for,” Linehan said Wednesday before leaving for Indianapolis, site of the weeklong Combine.

    A total of 333 draft prospects were invited to this year’s Combine. They’ll be timed, tested, interviewed and given physicals.


    Linehan started to get caught up on the draft class of 2008 last week, when Rams scouts went over every Combine invitee.
    Given his offensive background, Linehan likes to watch the quarterbacks and wide receivers work out at the Combine. But he says the most beneficial part is the player interviews.

    “You can get a feel for what a guy is like, how important football is to him, and what he comprehends,” Linehan said.

    The players are well-programmed these days by agents and assorted advisers on how to answer non-football questions. But asking them about X’s and O’s can be revealing for a head coach.

    Someone in the Rams’ organization will talk to every player at the Combine. And 60 of the top prospects will be interviewed in the Rams’ suite at Combine headquarters in downtown Indy.

    Among those participating in those interviews will be Linehan; executive vice president of player personnel Billy Devaney; vice president of player personnel Tony Softli; director of player personnel Lawrence McCutcheon; and frequently, president of football operations-general manager Jay Zygmunt.

    You can bet Louisiana State defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, Virginia defensive end Chris Long, Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden will be invited to the Rams’ suite some time between tonight and Monday.

    Entering the week, they are the consensus top four picks in the draft, which is set for April 26-27. And with the No. 2 pick, there’s no mystery to the fact that those four players all are in play for the Rams.

    “It’s pretty easy to figure out,” Linehan said. “You can count to ‘2’ pretty quick. There’s a lot less variables. You take the best player. Take need out of the equation. You’ve got a chance to add potentially a Pro Bowl player.”

    Ideally, need meets value on draft day. Either way, the Rams’ picks in the first round and second round (No. 33 overall) must have instant impact if the team is to improve substantially on last year’s 3-13 disaster.

    “Early in the draft, I think everybody kind of takes the same approach,” Devaney said last week. “Those guys have to come in and play. There’s so much money invested. Not many teams can afford to take a guy that high in the draft, pay him that kind of money, and say, ‘You know what? Maybe he can help us next year.’”

    The early returns on the Rams’ 2007 draft have been encouraging. Six of the Rams’ eight draft picks from a year ago spent at least part of the season on the active roster, combining for 70 games played and 24 starts.

    Defensive tackle Adam Carriker and fullback Brian Leonard were instant starters; defensive tackle Clifton Ryan and cornerback Jonathan Wade could develop into starters. But the mantra around Rams Park is about stringing together a series of good drafts, and building a foundation of young talent.

    “It could set you up for a long time if you put a couple of good draft classes together, or it could really set you back if you miss out,” Devaney said. “I’m not talking about a player or two.

    “If you have a couple of drafts that really aren’t productive ... then you start playing catch-up. You start going the free-agency route trying to compensate for that lack of a nucleus of young players. You start signing marginal NFL players to compensate.”

    The Rams have been there, done that. But Devaney doesn’t view his new job in St. Louis as a rebuilding process, or a situation in which it will take a couple of years to get up and running.

    “I really feel strongly that there’s a lot of pieces in place,” Devaney said. “With the injured players back, and if we add a couple of people in free agency, and knock it out in the draft, I love our chances.”


  2. #2
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Love the optimism, however, all we've had recently is optimism. Please provide a product this year Devaney and Rams Nation will worship you.

  3. #3
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    02/21/2008

    “It’s pretty easy to figure out,” Linehan said. “You can count to ‘2’ pretty quick. There’s a lot less variables. You take the best player. Take need out of the equation. You’ve got a chance to add potentially a Pro Bowl player.”
    In another thread the questioned was asked about Linehan's "smokescreen" for 2008. Well there it is "take need out of the equation".

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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post

    “I really feel strongly that there’s a lot of pieces in place,” Devaney said. “With the injured players back, and if we add a couple of people in free agency, and knock it out in the draft, I love our chances.”
    I love that last part. I think that our first pick (DL) will be an instant starter...but if we get an offensive player, he might not start. So it'll be a wasted pick.

    So hopefully we get a great Defensive Lineman.

    GO Rams!

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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    From what Devaney said here, if the Rams end up taking Jake Long you can bet they plan to start him. If I'm Barron, I might just find the weight room.

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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Devany wants starters in round 1 and 2 , so does that mean WR over OT in round 2 regardless of who we take first?

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Quote Originally Posted by 39thebeast View Post
    Devany wants starters in round 1 and 2 , so does that mean WR over OT in round 2 regardless of who we take first?
    If he wants starters, how does taking a WR in the second round address that? A receiver we draft in April is not going to be an immediate starter for us.

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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Depending on what we do with Bruce a WR could be a 3rd wideout. With a Healthy Pace and Barron a 2nd round OT won't start. I would rather get an OT unless their is a guy like Mannigham available, just throwing the idea out there.

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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Would be a starters in the second round? SS? LB? Center?

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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    fftopic: Forgive my ignorance and please elucidate me on this.


    During the measurables of the athletes that will appear at this year's NFL Combine ... what is that capsule they put the players in for? I believe it says 'Bod Pod' but I'm not sure what it does. Looks like a mini space ship.

    Thanks.

  11. #11
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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Found it! ...Sorry, I should have done my homework first.

    Life Measurement, Inc. to showcase air-displacement body composition technology that does not require water submersion

    Link:
    BODPOD

  12. #12
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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Would be a starters in the second round? SS? LB? Center?

    I don't think there is a S or C worth the 33 pick unless Kenny Phillips fall which is highly unlikely. LB maybe, but it might be to early to get one

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Would be a starters in the second round? SS? LB? Center?
    The problem is there probably aren't many starting positions open on this team. This team isn't in the same boat as many other 3-4 win teams are in that we really don't have huge glaring holes in our starting line-up. We were just so injured that we were forced to go three, four, sometimes five deep at one position. When healthy, the personnel is solid.

    In terms of immediate impact, Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis are probably the only players you could take and basically guarantee a starting job, simply because it would be fairly easy to keep Clifton Ryan as a situational player. Neither of those guys are my top choice, but both are exceptional players and probably have the best chance of making immediate impacts. I've been warming up to the Dorsey pick over the last couple of weeks, though he's probably my third or fourth preferred option at this point.

    Others that could make an immediate impact but certainly are not guaranteed to do so include Jake Long, who could compete at a number of spots but you can't exactly pencil him in as a starter anywhere just yet. Defensive end Chris Long could earn a starting spot over James Hall, but that's murky as well I think. Same goes for Gholston - I actually think he'd benefit from a situational role during his rookie year while he grows and experiences an NFL level of play.

    Then you get into the second round, and who becomes the immediate starter? No DB we draft in round two is going to beat out Brown, Hill, OJ, or Chavous IMO. A wide receiver from round two will not beat out Holt, Bruce, or Bennett. An offensive lineman in round two could compete like Jake Long could, but again, no guarantees there. Maybe there's a linebacker there to replace Chillar, but I'm not really sold on second round value for SAM linebackers. I don't think you're going to find a center in this draft capable of starting from day one.

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    Re: It's time for Rams to evaluate prospects

    I disagree with the notion that there aren't a lot of starting slots "open" and that the personnel is "solid." Injuries notwithstanding, if you only win 3-4 games in the NFL you don't have the luxury of assuming anyone in your starting lineup is safe. If you can improve anywhere, you do it and if a current starter moves back so be it. If nothing else, you've improved your depth (which the Rams desperately need to do).

    In my eyes, the only guys who will not be forced to sit because of a potential draft pick are the following:

    Holt
    Witherspoon
    Jackson
    Bulger
    Carricker

    As solid (or not) as anyone else may be, they can be replaced if the right person is there and we'd be a better team for it.

    Honestly, the Rams should pick the best player available in nearly every slot they are drafting at for this reason.

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