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Letters to Gordo: Rams fans weigh in on draft


BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
04/25/2006

Columnist Jeff Gordon
(E-mail a "Letter to Gordo")

With the NFL Draft almost upon us, we get our first chance to study the new coach and see how he is working with Charley Armey and Jay Zygmunt. Who is calling the shots in the war room? Is everybody getting along? And is the new coach as obsessed with offense as the old one?

Naturally, STLtoday.com readers are eager to weigh in on this topic:


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“I feel that the Rams MUST draft a defensive player who can be a starter this season. Given the free agents we picked up in the offseason, we are only one rookie starter away from having a solid defense again. The two players that come to mind are linebacker A.J. Hawk and defensive back Michael Huff. Personally, I would prefer to see Hawk drafted since the Rams still need a third starting linebacker to go with Witherspoon and Tinoisamoa. The current roster is loaded with secondary players (Butler, Fisher, Groce, Chavous, Brown, Otogwe, Carter and Bartell), so it seems reasonable that choosing the best 4 among them will give us a better secondary than we had last year.

“If Jay Cutler is available when the Rams draft 11th and they choose him, that will send a message that Scott Linehan is more interested in developing a QB for the future than he is with making the playoffs THIS year and I don't think that will resonate very well with most Rams fans.”

Mark Ferry, East Brunswick, N.J.


GORDO: Hawk and Huff are great prospects, but they should both be long gone by the time the Rams draft. Cutler could well be available; many mock drafts have him plummeting into the middle of the first round or lower. Most citizens of Rams Nation could be furious with the new coach if he took a quarterback, but, as he told the Post-Dispatch, that could very well happen.


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“I had a discussion with a friend last night and we agreed that the Rams need a lot, but not a quarterback. With their needs at strong safety, tight end, offensive and defensive line, why would they draft a QB? Just because a Vince Young or Jay Cutler might be available, shouldn't we draft for need? To me, that's like buying a nice new car when your house needs a new roof.”

Greg Gibson


GORDO: NFL types will argue that value is value -– and teams should always take the player with the most value. Rosters can be adjusted on the fly as team needs develop.

But your analogy is a good one. The Rams would take a pass on instant defensive help by taking a quarterback that may not contribute much for a couple of years.


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“I have been a Rams fan since they wore blue and white. I live and die by them. ANY rumors at all about trading up to get Michael Huff? I think he or Vernon Davis are worth trading up for in this draft.”

Pete Mancuso


GORDO: Huff is a pretty hot commodity. Some team may trade up to get him. The Rams haven’t turned up in many credible trade rumors, but you never know.

On the other hand, it appears the Rams could help themselves at linebacker by staying at No. 11.


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“The Rams should take Vernon Davis, Maryland tight end. Guys like this don't come along very much. I've seen him play around here for two years, and I can tell you he will be an impact player a la Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. What they have at tight end ain't much, and this guy will go quick.”

George Needle, Frederick, Md.


GORDO: That’s a great thought. The Rams DO need a big-time tight end to round out the offense and Davis WAS headed to the Rams on some early mock drafts.

But his stock has soared to the point where the Rams would likely have to trade up to get him. And with so many needs to fill, trading up for an offensive player doesn’t seem like a great idea.


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“I like the idea of a LB or DT on draft day, but with the poor record the Rams have drafting on defense, maybe they should think about a glaring weakness on offense -- scoring in the red zone. The answer? A tight end. Every player you listed apart from Cutler is yet another unproven NFL defensive maybe. Could work out . . . could stink the place up (see Robert Thomas, Pickett, Lewis, Archuleta to some extent . . . yes I say Archuleta because he never lived up to his potential despite a few scattered big plays).

“Vernon Davis, from Maryland, has been described by Mel Kiper as a wide receiver in a tight end's body. Can you imagine having him line up next to Curtis, Bruce, Holt and McDonald? It makes me giddy thinking about another outstanding option, especially in the red zone.

“As an added aside, after watching Steven Jackson the past two seasons, I do not think he is the answer. Started strong last year, and then reminded me of Jerome Bettis as a Ram before he was traded -- approach the line, get happy feet, fall into line, gain one yard. Now he's talking to the press about one thing: himself. Bad combination. I would think about a sleeper running back in this draft as well.”

Bill McGarry


GORDO: Again, Davis is a fabulous talent. But unless something unusual happens, he will remain out of Linehan’s reach.

As for Jackson, we should all learn a lesson from the Bettis episode. No, Jerome didn’t run downhill often enough for the Rams at the end of his time here. Part of that was due to a nagging injury. But in a new scheme, he got back on track.

Let’s see what Linehan and his staff do with Jackson before we give up on his potential.


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“In hoping Marshall Faulk would come back one last year, I just read an article where he had arthroscopic surgery on both knees this offseason. Is that why he was used on a limited basis last year? I know he has some left in the tank, but with his knee problems, he should retire while he can still walk.”

Ed Chandler, Las Vegas


GORDO: There were times last season where, yes, Faulk was physically able to do more than he did. But the multiple knee operations do raise the question of whether playing in 2006 is a great idea for No. 28. Once he starts going hard again -– and getting hit -– how long will he last?