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  1. #1
    tomahawk247's Avatar
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    My views on Draft and Free Agency

    Hello to everyone, im new to these boards, although i have been reading them for a while i have only recently signed up.
    These are my views on the rams draft, and how free agency might affect some of the picks. Bear in mind however that i am British, so i havent seen a great amount of college football, although i have watched what i can and tried to keep up to date.

    This i a fairly lengthy post, as i have gone through each position and looked at the draft and free agency.

    Secondary
    In regards to safety, it appears that Haslett wants Archuleta back. I have no problems with this, although it definitely depends on if Arch is healthy, which he hasnt been for about two seasons now. The guy is a great pass rusher, he is good in run support, and his skills in coverage are quite underrated. He isnt a great cover guy, but he is capable enough. Also, we need Arch to resign basically because he is a leader in the secondary. He is probably the guy with most experience their at the moment, and if he gets back to his hard hitting ways, he can really get the rest of the secondary and defense pumped up. Another thing is Arch seems to have been restricted by the system he played in under Marmie. Marmie seemed to want to use Arch like your prototypical SS, which isnt the way to go about things. I can see Haslett coming up with a scheme which will ise Arch's talents to the fullest, instead of Marmie trying to change Arch into what he wasn't. Jerome Carter is nothing more then a backup right now, and Arch really needs to be resigned.

    At free safety, we already have Atogwe and Furrey. Furrey showed some very good coverage skills last year, but his ability in run support was very obviously lacking. Atogwe seemed to have improved by the end of the season, however i feel he was held back quite alot by Martz, as Martz dropped Atogwe once he made a mistake in the first game of the year. This meant that Atogwe didn't even dress for a good five or so games at the start of the year. Hardly a way to get him to improve. Im all for bringing in a veteran to play FS, but the current prospects to be had in FA aren't great. Chris Hope is likely to be resigned, and he is the best of the bunch right now. Someone like Lance Shulters could be had to provide experience and leadership, but he won't really be making plays. I know that some people are against taking a FS in the first because we already have Atogwe and Furrey, but i think bringing in someone with very good coverage skills, who is also decent against the run and who can make plays will vastly improve the defense. I can see the Rams bringing in a guy like Micheal Huff or Jimmy Williams, and i have no objections to that, as it is likely that when we pick they might be the best available players.

    I dont think bringing in a corner is a top priority right now. Butler, really came on in 2004, and it was a shame he missed 2005. Travis Fisher has missed a lot of time due to injury. But both of these guys are good enough in coverage and run support. Dejuan Groce showed some good coverage ability when he had playing time last year. There is also a lot of potential in Ron Bartell and Chris Johnson. There are guys like Charles Woodson and Ty Law in free agency, but these guys are most likely too expensive, and they are declining due to their age. If they came in, they wouldn't be like Aeneas Williams was when he joined the Rams. I think we are currently fine at corner. Yes a big time, young CB would be great on the rams. But there are currently none available, and the corner class isnt outstanding in the draft. Jimmy Williams is being projected as a safety by most, due to his more physical nature and lack of great top end speed. If Williams was to play corner, i think him being physical and his attitude may lead to him being a lot like Ahmed Carrol in Green Bay, a guy who gets penalised a lot and then arrested.

    The problem with the draft in the secondary is that Williams and Huff are likely to go before the 11th pick, while the second goup of guys, for example Tye Hill and Darnell Bing, are going to be huge reaches at that spot. Unless a guy in the second group has a huge combine and moves up like Carlos Rodgers did last year, you can only expect Huff or Williams to be taken (if they fall to 11 that is). Also, you have to think that after taking DBs in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds last year that it would be a waste of a pick to add another DB from these rounds. If secondary is going to be taken in the draft they have to be a first rounder, or not at all. Some people have the Rams taking Jonathan Joseph in the second round. I have to disagree with this, as the Rams took Ron Bartell last year, and there is no point adding another similar rookie.

    Linebackers
    The free agent and draft class for OLB is huge this year, and i think it would be good for the Rams to pick up a decent starter at OLB. You have guys like Akin Ayodele, Will Witherspoon, Cato June and even top tier guys like LaVar Arrington (possibly) and Julian Peterson as free agents, and it will be worthwhile for the rams to look into picking someone up to start opposite Pisa Tinoisamoa. Even though there are many good OLBs in the draft, because of the talent at the position in free agency its probably best for the rams to pick up a veteran. Although drafting an OLB in later rounds is not out of the question, the Rams already have guys like Dexter Coakley and Brandon Chillar who are more then capable backups. In the draft, Chad Greenway seems he will be available at 11, and he is a possibility. If AJ Hawk falls, he will be taken. However, the draft is deep at LB, so i don't know if the rams will want to take an LB in the first when a suitable possible starter can be taken in the second. There are other positions of need that need more addressing in the 1st round then LB at the moment, especially with the free agents available.

    Im not sold on Claiborne at all really at MLB, although that may be because he wasn't on the field very often. To be honest, it doesnt matter if he stays or goes, i hope the rams draft an MLB, hopefully in the second round. Its been said that D'Qwell Jackson is the top prospect at MLB, and he will probably go late 1st/early 2nd round, which may lead to the Rams being able to pick up Abdul Hodge. If someone like Hodge was to come in and play well, he could start in the 4-3 at MLB, and it leaves Claiborne to come in alongside him in the 3-4. The free agents at MLB hardly appear to be outstanding in anyway.

    As it stands, i would like to see the rams pick up a free agent OLB, and draft a MLB, preferably in the second round. My hopes is that the second round MLB will be a guy like Tinoisamoa, who slips under the radar but becomes a very good starter. Last year Odell Thurman and Lofa Tatupu were taken in the second round, and they pretty much lead their respective defenses. The Rams might get lucky with the FA class of OLBs. Because there is a large number of guys, the overall value of a FA OLB will be driven down. If Lavar Arrington and Julian Peterson both hit FA, you have to expect them to be the top of the group. But their value is going to be lower then you think because of Peterson's history of injuries and Arrington's attitude. This will mean that it is very possible for the rams to grab a decent starter who can make plays for below their normal market value.

    Defensive Line
    Il start by looking at the Defensive Tackles. Ryan Pickett as we all know is a free agent, and is coming off his best year as a pro. Now this seems to me that its one of thoses instances where a guy plays harder to get more money when FA hits. I thought that this was the case with Bryce Fisher, but Fisher went on to be a good starter in Seattle. The question is, can we really afford to give up our best DT, a guy who lead his position in tackles last year. I would prefer to have Pickett resigned, but not if he is asking for more then what he is worth. Yes he had a big year last year, but that was only one year. If you look at the seasons before that he has hardly stood out. However, it would pain me to let him go and have him be great for another team. It would be a shame to finally have one of the Rams 1st round DTs play well, but in another uniform. Pickett, being a NT, would also be able to play well in Haslett's 3-4. Now Pickett might be a bit undersized for a 3-4 NT, but i think he would make a good end in that alignment.

    Damione Lewis, the guy taken ahead of not only Pickett, but Marcus Stroud and Kris Jenkins, is also a free agent. I don't really know if i would like for him to resign. If he is cheap he might provide decent enough cover. However, Jimmy Kennedy is still under contract, and Lewis really hasn't shown anything to justify him being kept around. Also, i think its time the rams looked into FA for a DT to play alongside Pickett. One guy the Rams surely have to look at in FA is Ma'ake Kemoeatu. The guy is a huge NT, and can play in a 3-4, as he did in Baltimore. Although not much of a pass rusher, the guy is a true run stuffer, and having him play in the 4-3 alongside Pickett would create a monster of an interior line. The only problem is Kemoeatu is being looked at by other 3-4 teams, most notably Cleveland. The Browns have a vast amount of cap room and would probably pay over the top to get him.

    If you look at the Defensive Ends, you have to be happy with Leonard Little. The rams best defensive player, and often double teamed, he still finds ways to make plays. However, his production appears to have dropped off after the departure of Grant Wistrom, because the Rams have yet to find a guy to play opposite Little who can really make a difference. Because of the lack of a threat on the other side of the line, and not much push apart from Pickett in the middle, the opposition can afford to double team Little and/or just play of the LT towards the right end. Now Tony Hargrove has been an OK starter, but nothing much else. He has some good physical tools but i feel he is still a way away mentally. I would like to see the Rams go after a FA DE. Darren Howard is a possibility, and he might like the look of the Rams because of the familiar coaching staff. However he would have to come fairly cheaply. Howard is probably the best DE left in Free Agency. John Abraham was tagged, and i can't see the rams instigating a trade to get him. Raheem Brock and Kyle Vanden Bosch have already been resigned. I think the rams may look towards someone like Carlos Hall. Hall could have a lot of success playing opposite a guy like Little.

    I don't see the Rams using a high pick on a Defensive Tackle or End. I don't think a first round DT will be taken because of the history, and the only one worth the 11th pick would be Haloti Ngata. He would fit well in a 3-4, but it is very unlikely he gets past Buffalo, and he could even end up in San Fran. If Mario Williams falls, he gets taken, no questions asked. He is the Julius Peppers of this draft class. However, its unlikely he will even get past Green Bay, let alone Oakland. Tamba Hali would need a good combine showing to move up to a position where the Rams could take him. You have to consider though that Haslett had a good history of picking Defensive Ends. Manny Lawson is an interesting prospect. He is a tweener between 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE, which puts him in a Shawne Merrimen/DeMarcus Ware mould, and he will likely have his stock rise due to the combine. However this only means he won't be around for the Rams second round pick, but he can't possibly rise enough to be taken 11th.

    Tight Ends
    Brandon Manumaleuna is not currently under contract. But you will probably see him come back for cheap. He knows the system, and Linehan loves his TEs, but he also hasn't shown much for other teams to be really interested. Manu could easily be a good option in the passing game, the problem is we don't know as Martz didn't throw to the TE much. Roland Williams might be bought back to provide veteran leadership and experience.

    You have to see the Rams drafting a TE somwhere in the first three rounds of the draft, especially considering the depth of the draft class at the position. Everyone is talking about taking Davis at 11. I don't know if i agree with this. Yes Davis is a great pass catching TE, however he is small for the position, and rarely ever had to block. He would be a good addition to the offense, but i feel the rams need a solid blocker as well as a good pass catcher at TE. Linehan will like him as a H-Back.

    One guy i would love to see in horns is Leonard Pope. This is what he has said:
    "Ah man, my height?" he asks, rhetorically, "The average linebacker I think is about 6-1 or something like that? If I'm 6-7 and me running down the field and it's a one-on-one, I'm going to make the play because of my height."
    "Right now I'm satisfied with my weight at 258," he says. "But I'll tend to gain maybe 10 more pounds and still try to run like a 4.6 or 4.5."

    He would be a great NFL TE, but you have to consider that the Rams will definitely not reach for him, and he definitely won't make it anywhere near the second round. He is likely to go at picks in the 20s, but a good combine could push him up. Would the Rams be willing to trade down to get him? I doubt it, but i would love to have him in the horns.

    You also have quite a wide variety of other TEs to choose from, many good pass catching TEs that will be available in later rounds. Joe Klopfenstein is a guy with fairly good speed that could be a viable option. There are no FAs really worth bothering with except ones that have previously played for the Rams. The draft is loaded with talent at TE, and you have to think Linehan will find a very good one. I think the Davis hype due to his pass catching might be let down by his blocking. The Rams will need a solid blocking TE in both the pass and run game.

    Offensive Line
    I won't bother talking about the Tackles, these two guys will keep Bulger off his ass, you can't find any criticism about Pace, and Barron can only get better.
    As for the interior lineman, McCollom and Timmerman are getting older, and Timmerman is often playing through injuries. However they are still very capable starters, and i don't see the need to bring in anyone to take their place from FA. Obviously Steve Hutchinson and LeCharles Bentley would be upgrades, but they aren't going to be had for cheap, and there is no way the Seahawks would dare let Hutch go to a division rival.
    LG is a bit of a problem. Claude Terrell played OK given his chance, and another offseason might do him wonders. Richie Incognito will hopefully be pushing for playing time now that he is injury free. But you have to see the Rams bringing in an interior OL from somewhere, not only to be a backup to McCollom and Timmerman, but to compete with Terrel for a starters job and possibly be a starter in years to come. I see a OG being taken in the 3rd or 4th rounds.

    Wide Receivers
    Isaac Bruce will sign a contract extension and will end up retiring a Ram. Bruce will always be a team player, and after last year when the Rams decided to leave Bruce's contract as it was and pay him the money, you have to think he will restructure so that the team can pick up some much needed defense. He will still be the starter alongside probably the best and most consistant WR in the league, Torry Holt.

    There is a big question concerning Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald. Both are restricted FAs, and the Rams will likely offer Curtis a high tender. McDonald may be left free to leave, although its possible they may offer him a tender, just so that they can get some compensation. Although it may not be worthwhile seeing as how he was a 4th rounder. If McDonald is left to leave, then the Rams will definitely use a midlevel draft pick to grab a WR, but one who also is good at returning. Skyler Green is a name touted, and i have no objections to bringing in such a player. You have to remember that Dane Looker is still under contact, and he can be a good enough 4th WR,

    Running Backs
    Steven Jackson is the starter. Its looking more and more likely that Marshall Faulk is coming back, and it seems as though Linehan wants to get him more and more involved. Madison Hedgecock is a good enough FB, a solid blocker who can also run or make the catch when it is required. Manumaleuna, if resigned, can also play FB.

    I dont see the rams signing a Free Agent RB. But they could draft for depth and return ability. Maurice Drew is someone i would like to see. Yes he is small at 5'8, but Darren Sproles is small and he went on to be one of the NFLs best returners last year. Drew might be gone before the Rams pick in the third and 4th, but his lack of size may drop him down in some peoples eyes. If it happens, the rams could easily take him to be a returner this year with an option to be Jackson's backup when Faulk retires. However because he might not make an immediate impact on the offense as well as special teams, the Rams may go with a WR as a returner, who will also serve as the teams 4th receiver

    Quarterbacks
    I can't see the rams drafting a QB, especially since Jeff Smoker and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been taken in recent drafts. Fitzpatrick will get the chance to compete for the number 2 job i think, but Linehan will bring in someone to be Marc Bulger's backup. There aren't many decent FAs however, but dont be too surprised to see Gus Frerotte as Bulger's backup. He knows Linehan's system, and Miami might let him go if they bring in someone like Drew Brees or Jay Cutler

    Overall
    From what i can see happening right now, the draft order would be like this:

    First Round:
    Micheal Huff/Jimmy Williams (whoever impresses at the combine or pro day the most, and who is still available at 11)
    Vernon Davis (if he can show that he has the ability to block)

    Second Round:
    Abdul Hodge (or another linebacker)
    Manny Lawson (if he falls, but his stock can only rise)

    Third:
    OG
    ILB (if not taken in previous rounds)
    TE (if not taken in previous rounds)

    Fourth:
    OG (If not taken in previous rounds)
    KR

    Now i dont know if this has been put forward at all, but he Rams could easily trade down, especially if Vince Young slips, which he appears to be doing. By trading the Number 11 pick the Rams could easily pick up a middle to last first rounder and an early second rounder. This would allow the Rams to probably pick up, Leonard Pope, Manny Lawson and Abdul Hodge in the first two rounds. The only problem is the Rams would all but lose getting a shot at drafting a very good playmaking safety, which the team would love.


    I would like your opinions on all this, i know its lengthy, but please give it a read and see what you think.


  2. #2
    Goldenfleece's Avatar
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    I'd have to agree on just about all of that. I agree on FA: sign an OLB, draft an MLB, hope we get Darren Howard or Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

    I'd be a little surprised if Williams and Huff are gone by 11. If we're not going to draft a safety in the first round and can't sign a quality FA, we might just have to deal with that being a weakness for the time being. No team is perfect. I think "The Duke" can improve his blocking. He's got the muscle; he just needs to work on technique. There are a lot of ways the first round could work out and I'd be pretty happy. If we come out without a tight end or safety in the first, though, I could be a little irked. Greenway might be the exception to that or if a guy like Hawk or Super Mario fell to us. I hope we get Hodge in the second. I don't know that drafting a guard in the lower rounds will be a significant improvement over what we have now. Drew would be a nice pickup; I haven't seen enough footage on Green to know.
    Last edited by Goldenfleece; -02-26-2006 at 05:57 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece
    I'd have to agree on just about all of that. I agree on FA: sign an OLB, draft an MLB, hope we get Darren Howard or Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

    I'd be a little surprised if Williams and Huff are gone by 11. If we're not going to draft a safety in the first round and can't sign a quality FA, we might just have to deal with that being a weakness for the time being. No team is perfect. I think "The Duke" can improve his blocking. He's got the muscle; he just needs to work on technique. There are a lot of ways the first round could work out and I'd be pretty happy. If we come out without a tight end or safety in the first, though, I could be a little irked. Greenway might be the exception to that or if a guy like Hawk or Super Mario fell to us. I hope we get Hodge in the second. I don't know that drafting a guard in the lower rounds will be a significant improvement over what we have now. Drew would be a nice pickup; I haven't seen enough footage on Green to know.

    I agree with your points there. I cant see both Huff and Williams being off the board when we pick. And the only way we don't pick a DB or TE in the first is if Hawk or Williams falls. The thing with taking Davis is that he will have time to learn, so im not against taking him. I just feel Pope will have a more immediate impact. Davis has the tools though (he runs a 4.41 40-yard dash, squats 685 lbs. and benches 460 lbs)

    I suggest picking a guard in the later rounds so they can come in and develop. I don't see us picking a guard up who can come in right away and start, but it would be good to start looking for guys to replace Timmerman and McCollum. I know Incognito and Terrell were drafted for that purpose, but a little depth, especially considering Timmerman's injury history, can do wonders.

  4. #4
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    Very nice post. My preference is to not draft a TE, but I wouldn't be upset about it if we signed Howard and Kemoauta.

  5. #5
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    Very good post. I agree with just about everything you said. Good positional analysis as well.
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  6. #6
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    This would allow the Rams to probably pick up, Leonard Pope, Manny Lawson and Abdul Hodge in the first two rounds
    Very good read,

    If Huff where to go at 8 or 9 and we traded down with Miami Dolphins at 16. Some draft boards have Miami taking a QB. I could see us getting three quality players.

    If we where to do this and Pope turned out to be the best TE of the draft, it could be a very special draft for the Rams.

  7. #7
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    Excellent post! A very good read!

    The 1st round is really going to have me on the edge of my seat this year. Much will depend on what we do in FA. But, I have to think a safety like Huff is the priority. Our secondary has been gashed for third and long for way to many years. Dating back to that infamous 3rd and like 25 with under 2 minutes left, second to the last play in SB 36. I didn't have confidence we could stop it then and we haven't been able to stop it since.

    On a side note, I have lost all confidence in our CB Fisher. I consider him a liability. He can stay with his man long enough to watch the guy catch the ball right in front of him more often than not. I'm hoping Bartell or Groce come along well enough to take his place.

    You do bring up an interesting scenario of bringing in someone like Shulters in the secondary, opening up the possibilities of moving down in the draft. Picking up another 2nd sure gets my head spinning with all of the excellent possible combinations that could be put together, as you suggested.

    Again, excellent post! Welcome to the Clan!

  8. #8
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    Fischer isn't great, but I don't think he's a huge liability. There are a lot of other corners out there worse than him. Plus, it would help if we had safeties who could play adequate zone coverage.

  9. #9
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    Re: My views on Draft and Free Agency

    I think Fisher looks worse just because the opposing QB has had a ridiculously long time to throw. You can't cover a guy forever, and the Rams have not had a solid pass rush for a while now. Yes Little gets to the QB, but teams have started to double him.

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