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    Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    Posted: March 26, 2008
    Jim Thomas
    For Sporting News
    In-depth analysis of the St. Louis Rams' plans for the 2008 NFL draft:

    NEEDS

    1. Defensive end. Leonard Little turns 34 in October and is coming off a one-sack season in which he played only seven games because of a toe injury that required surgery. The other starter, 31-year-old James Hall, is entering the final year of his contract and didn't make many plays last season. An edge rusher is a must; an every-down end who can also rush the passer would be ideal. For all of those reasons, Virginia's Chris Long makes a lot of sense at the No. 2 overall pick. Although not a natural pass rusher, Long registered 14 sacks last season with the Cavaliers.

    2. Wide receiver. Torry Holt is still a very effective wideout, but he has a chronic knee problem that may not improve. Isaac Bruce, who turns 36 in November, was released and promptly signed by San Francisco. A big, speedy pass-catcher would be an ideal addition to a receiving corps that also includes 2007 disappointment Drew Bennett. Unfortunately for the Rams, there isn't a candidate in this year's draft with top-10 talent. If St. Louis doesn't fill this need in free agency, the team will look for help in the second or third rounds from someone like Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly.

    3. Offensive tackle. Can the Rams get 16 games out of seven-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace? He has started only nine games over the past two years because of season-ending shoulder and triceps injuries. If St. Louis thinks he can stay healthy, it can look for depth and a future starter after Round 1. But if the Rams have any concerns about Pace's durability, they'd better seriously consider Michigan's Jake Long.

    4. Center. Immediate help is needed on the interior due to age and injury. This could be a position that the team tries to address via free agency. However, if the Rams look for help in the draft, someone like Arizona State's Mike Pollak could be an option in the second or third rounds.

    5. Cornerback. Teams can never have enough players at this position. Even after taking Tye Hill in the first round two years ago and Jonathan Wade in Round 3 last year, the Rams could look for even more help. Fakhir Brown has had off-field issues, while Ron Bartell is scheduled for free agency after the 2008 season.

    6. Safety. Corey Chavous will return for his third season in St. Louis, but is 32. The Rams need to start thinking about grooming a replacement. For draft purposes, this doesn't need to take place in the first two rounds, but players such as Michigan's Jamar Adams, LSU's Craig Steltz and Kentucky's Wesley Woodyard should be available during the second day.

    OUTLOOK

    With the No. 2 overall selection, the Rams are in prime position to fill one of their two most pressing needs. One of the two Longs (no relation) -- defensive end Chris and offensive tackle Jake -- should be there when St. Louis picks. It's not hard to make a case for LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey either, even with the strong rookie seasons by Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan. With Dorsey in the lineup, Carriker would be freed up to play defensive end, particularly on run sets.

    With Steven Jackson entering the final year of his contract, Arkansas' Darren McFadden also presents an intriguing option and would give St. Louis a solid one-two punch at running back in 2008. It's not out of the question for the Rams to dangle Jackson as trade bait, or trade down a few spots with a team trying to move up for McFadden or another top prospect.

    With the second and 34th picks, St. Louis desperately needs to find players who can contribute right away.


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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    Lots of people "in the know" are talking about Carriker at DE....not just us Dorsey flunkies.


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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Lots of people "in the know" are talking about Carriker at DE....not just us Dorsey flunkies.
    Yet no one's actually explained why it would work...

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    maybe they don't have to. I think it could. I think he could be athletic enough to do it. However, I also realize it's a longshot on Dorsey. Conventional wisdom is leaning towards either Long in Round 1. Rams don't necessarily need a HR like a Gholston or Dorsey (they don't need a swing and a miss with either also) but could use a safe hit with either Long.

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    maybe they don't have to.
    This isn't politics, though. Repeating something over and over again isn't going to make it more true or convincing. There has to be a reasoning behind it, especially if others are expected to consider it as a possible option.

    Thus far, I haven't seen much if any actual analysis that explains why Carriker would be a good fit as a 4-3 DE, nor have I seen anything that really refutes the analysis provided explaining why he wouldn't.

    So when fans keep mentioning it, or on occasion a writer mentions it in passing, but no one actually explains why it would work, then it makes me wonder.
    Last edited by Nick; -03-27-2008 at 03:35 PM.

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    This isn't politics, though. Repeating something over and over again isn't going to make it more true or convincing. There has to be a reasoning behind it, especially if others are expected to consider it as a possible option.

    Thus far, I haven't seen much if any actual analysis that explains why Carriker would be a good fit as a 4-3 DE, nor have I seen anything that really refutes the analysis provided explaining why he wouldn't.

    So when fans keep mentioning it, or on occasion a writer mentions it in passing, but no one actually explains why it would work, then it makes me wonder.
    So far everything I have read pertaining to Carriker playing DE is predicated on the Rams drafting Dorsey. The theory in this scenario is that Dorsey would be so disruptive vs the run and the pass that he would be double teamed. Since opposing O-lines can only double team one guy effectively, this means Little, Carriker and Ryan would be one on one. Dorsey is no stranger to being double - even triple teamed. On running downs this would be a great front four IMO. On passing downs another speed guy could be inserted if need be. However, that may not be necessary if Ryan and Dorsey could collapse the pocket from the middle. and Little pressure from the edge, Carriker could bull his way to the QB. Even if Carriker only got 3 sacks a year, he could contribute mightily toward Little's sack count, not to mention others.

    Is this scenario guaranteed to work? Of course not, but there are no guarantees in the draft other than - if you pick in the top five in round one - you guaranteed will be paying millions to that player whether he's great or whether he's a bust.

    We can theorize forever on whether Carriker can play end in a 4-3 effectively, but bottom line is: We'll never know for sure unless he is given the opportunity ...

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    And that's the point, Nick, I don't think it would work, not in practice. People think that Chris Long is too slow to play a 4-3DE, how in the hell is Carriker supposed to do it? Carriker is much bigger and is a step slower than Long. He has an extra 40 lbs of mass to try to shift as he goes around the edge. No tackle would be scared of him getting past him. Only of his bull rush. He's a prototypical 3-4 DE, which translates to either a strong side 4-3 run stopping end or a 4-3 DT. So yes, he could play DE for us, but we won't get the pass rush that we need or some people seem to think we'd get from him.

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    So, my question is this....is Carriker that much better than Dorsey that you pass on Dorsey just because you already have Carriker? Or do you use Carriker as bait to get a DE and draft Dorsey to play DT?

    Don't know, but as long as we are speculating it makes for good debate.

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    People think that Chris Long is too slow to play a 4-3DE,
    Woah, hold the phone.........who thinks Long is too slow to play 4-3 End?
    "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

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    "With Steven Jackson entering the final year of his contract, Arkansas' Darren McFadden also presents an intriguing option and would give St. Louis a solid one-two punch at running back in 2008. It's not out of the question for the Rams to dangle Jackson as trade bait, or trade down a few spots with a team trying to move up for McFadden or another top prospect."

    I hope that want happen. I wounder how far would the rams be willing to fall back to get other picks. If we fall out of the top 5-6 pick we lost our chance to get a special player.
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: Jim Thomas on Rams plans for 2008 Draft

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    Dorsey is no stranger to being double - even triple teamed. On running downs this would be a great front four IMO. On passing downs another speed guy could be inserted if need be. However, that may not be necessary if Ryan and Dorsey could collapse the pocket from the middle. and Little pressure from the edge, Carriker could bull his way to the QB. Even if Carriker only got 3 sacks a year, he could contribute mightily toward Little's sack count, not to mention others.
    You're right - on running downs, this would be a great front four. On passing downs, we're still lacking. As you said, we could need another speed guy to help our pass rush, which puts us back to square one.

    The problem is you've got a line that's essentially made up of one top-end pass rusher (Little) who may or may not return to form after a significant injury at his age. For all the talk of his quickness and ability to penetrate, Dorsey has not set himself apart as an elite pass rusher thus far in his career. He's amassed only 13 sacks and 7 QB pressures in 51 games at LSU. Is that going to improve at the next level with a higher level of competition?

    With your plan, Dorsey isn't going to be the Warren Sapp player people like to envision him as, but instead will command attention from multiple blockers in order to free up others. If that's the case, you're not going to get elite production out of him, certainly not the kind of production you'd want out of a second overall pick. The question then becomes whether his impact will be best felt in what he's able to help others do. But given Little's age and the limitations of both Ryan and Carriker as pass rushers at their respective positions, I have significant doubts it will.

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    We can theorize forever on whether Carriker can play end in a 4-3 effectively, but bottom line is: We'll never know for sure unless he is given the opportunity ...
    Yes, you'll never know for sure until he's given the opportunity, but the fact of the matter is that we drafted him from day one to play inside, and Haslett is on record saying that his best position will likely be the three-technique.

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    So, my question is this....is Carriker that much better than Dorsey that you pass on Dorsey just because you already have Carriker? Or do you use Carriker as bait to get a DE and draft Dorsey to play DT?
    It's not a matter of Carriker being better than Dorsey. Frankly we don't know who's going to be better. But the fact is we have Carriker, he's only been here one year, and he best projects to Dorsey's spot.

    By drafting Dorsey to play UT, the coaching staff would essentially be saying, "We think Carriker is best as a three-technique, but we're not going to play him there because we want to add Dorsey to the roster." So you're changing your plans for a guy you just drafted and moving him to a spot where you (as in the coaching staff) don't think he'll do as well simply to add Dorsey to the line. Some people might be comfortable with this; I'm not. Dorsey has too many question marks, IMO, to make this a preferred option with our first round pick. That's why I have three other guys ahead of him on my board - because they not only are of appropriate value, but also are better fits in terms of present/future personnel for this team and don't require us to shift young promising guys out of their projected places.

    I also don't see any reason to trade Carriker one year into his pro career, especially since he's looked promising. This team has had a hard enough time finding good players along the defensive line. Trading a promising one now that we found him doesn't make any sense to me.

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