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  1. #1
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    Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Feb. 22 2005

    For the Rams, the draft process began last May with about 1,500 prospects. By late last fall, that list was whittled to 900. The list of 900 was cut in half at the team's draft meetings in December.

    "Right now, our list is down to 185, and it'll get smaller," Rams general manager Charley Armey said. "We'll cut that list to right around 150 or 160 guys before the draft - the week of the draft."

    The player evaluation process hits the home stretch this week with the annual NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. About 330 draft prospects will converge on Indy beginning today for seven days of timing, testing, medical examinations and interviews with NFL teams.

    Although many of the top prospects skip the workout phase of the combine, the week in Indianapolis still has value to Armey for a couple of reasons.

    "I'm not a big workout guy," Armey said. "But the medical information has always been No. 1 for me. I've always tried to stay focused on this - to try to pay attention to what Jim (Anderson) and his staff, and our doctors, tell us about the risks of the players medically at the combine."

    Anderson is the Rams' head trainer.

    Secondly, the combine is important for the coaching staff to get its first real exposure to the draft pool of college talent. "It gives them a good chance to see them up close and personal," Armey said.
    "It's not so much important for me, because I've been watching the tapes and have gone out and seen players. So have our scouts.

    "I like having the coaches get this feel for players. I want the coaches to know the type of players that are in the draft, and the type of players that work for them."

    Early indications this offseason are that the Rams are looking for a different type of player on defense. With Pisa Tinoisamoa moving to strong safety from linebacker, and with the team considering moving Damione Lewis from tackle to end, the Rams are trying to get bigger on defense. The better to stop the run, a problem area in each of the past two seasons.

    Armey, who has coordinated the past seven Rams drafts, already has a feel for the kind of player coach Mike Martz is looking for on offense. Now he must continue to get a feel for what defensive coordinator Larry Marmie is looking for on defense.

    "Let me say this: I like what I'm hearing from Coach Martz about what the defense likes, and what their ideas are, because it fits more my personal philosophy," Armey said. "I'll bend my philosophy to match the coaches, whatever it is. But I like bigger players. Of course, we all like faster players. ... But I like the idea of having a bigger, stronger football team and being able to stop up the run a little bit."

    At the moment, the Rams have eight draft picks - their original seven picks, plus an extra third-rounder resulting from the trade of running back Lamar Gordon to Miami last September.

    In addition, the Rams expect to be awarded a couple of extra compensatory draft picks (for lost free agents), with perhaps a fourth-rounder added to the mix after losing defensive end Grant Wistrom to Seattle. The compensatory picks usually aren't awarded until late March.

    "This is really an important draft for us," Armey said. "We have to get this draft right. We need some significant help out of the draft for the future of the Rams. We have a great organization. We've got a great team. But we do have some holes to fill."

    The Rams' biggest need area, particularly with the switch of Tinoisamoa to the secondary, is linebacker. But the offensive line (particularly tackle), plus defensive back and the defensive line, also are need areas. It's a moving target, however, because free agency additions fill needs in some areas while free agency losses create needs in other areas.

    "There's some really good linebackers (in the draft), but the depth at linebacker is not real good," Armey said. "There's a couple of really good safeties. But not a lot of depth. Corners are excellent. There'll be a lot of really good, solid corners."

    Although Armey rates the overall talent pool on the offensive line as merely solid, he says there is excellent depth at offensive tackle.
    "I think this is one of the better years for total numbers at the offensive tackle position," Armey said. "There's a chance for that position to hold in the draft. And when I say hold, I mean, guys will be there later on in the draft."

    Guys who can play and start in the NFL.

    One of those offensive line prospects is Dan Connolly of Southeast Missouri State University. Connolly, who is from Marquette High in St. Louis County, played tackle in college but is projected at guard in the NFL.

    He is among several players with area or regional ties who have been invited to the combine. The list includes defensive tackles Atiyyah Ellison and C.J. Mosley of Missouri, cornerback Kelvin Hayden and center Raymond Preston of Illinois, running back Brandon Jacobs of Southern Illinois Carbondale and wide receiver Jamaica Rector of Northwest Missouri State.

    Conspicuous in his absence is running back Damien Nash of Missouri, who did not get an invitation to the combine.


  2. #2
    ZigZagRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    So through clever detective work the Rams draft will go like this:

    1. LB
    2. S
    3. CB/OT
    4. CB/OT

    But something tells me it'll look a little more like this:
    1. DT
    2. DE
    3. RB
    4. QB

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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    "We'll cut that list to right around 150 or 160 guys before the draft - the week of the draft."
    Now I don't pretend to know anywhere as much as these guys about this process, but I can add and subtract. And that tidbit of knowledge allows me to know that we will have (depending on comps) 3 or maybe 4 picks after 150 picks have come and gone. Which makes me wonder, are we just grabbing at straws with those last few picks or what? Is that when Martz/Armey/whoever has their pet picks? I don't know, but I would think their list would be twice as long to cover everyone they need to. But again, I'm on the outside looking in, just like everyone else here.
    "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: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    Early indications this offseason are that the Rams are looking for a different type of player on defense. With Pisa Tinoisamoa moving to strong safety from linebacker, and with the team considering moving Damione Lewis from tackle to end, the Rams are trying to get bigger on defense. The better to stop the run, a problem area in each of the past two seasons.
    I say, brilliant! I was all for speed with Lovie, but Marmie is the polar opposite and will never have success with our personnel. Last season made it obvious that he can't succeed without his type of player, so if we can make a few changes and get bigger overnight, I'm all for it. It looks like Marmie is here to stay, so if this is what it takes then give him what he needs. Bring on the the steak and potatoes, then hit the weight room boys. And steer clear of those treadmills, they only make you skinny.
    "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: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    Makes sense to get the players to match that of the coaches game plan! I never liked lovie's type of defense for the Rams. It worked in Tampa ,yet he had all the parts.
    It never materialized in STL. So let's get the d- cord what he needs!
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    Since the focus will be on a larger defenders this year, here's a look at some of the wide-loads that we may be looking at for each position:

    Defensive End
    1. Marcus Spears (6'4" 295) He'll be gone before our 1st pick, but what a monster
    2. Chris Canty (6'7" 290) Huge frame with long Kearse-like arms, strong kid but not much top speed, lots of medical questions surrounding his knees
    3. Derreck Robinson (6'4" 287) Good run stopper with a pretty good upside, think Tyoka w/o the leadership ability

    Defensive Tackle
    1. Sione Pouha (6'3" 330) potential to be dominant run stopper and good leadership skills, but has been underachiever and is a little old at 26
    2. Anthony Bryant (6'3" 340) will close all running lanes inside, but that's it; no pass rushing ability and allows himself to get out of shape
    3. Albert Means (6'4" 328) good run stopper with decent athleticism for a big guy, but poor stamina

    Outside Linebacker
    1. Rian Wallace (6'4" 245) good mix of strength and speed and a wildman on the field, never quits and can play inside or outside; a little undisciplined and struggles in coverage; wouldn't be surprised at all to see him in horns next season
    2. Ryan Claridge (6'3" 250) very athletic playmaker and 4 year starter, can play inside or outside, however not great speed and has dealt with a number of injuries
    3. Lionel Turner (6'2" 257) big hitter with solid leadership qualities, but runs like a d-lineman, not good in coverage

    Inside Linebacker
    1. Channing Crowder (6'3" 245) 1st round talent who is very physical with good instincts and lots of upside; injuries and character may be issues
    2. Lance Mitchell (6'3" 245) solid hitter and loves to makes plays; torn ACL has some people worried about durability, it slowed him down his senior year
    3. Robert McCune (6'1" 245) very fast for his size, can run step for step with any receiver, very strong kid addicted to the weight room; due to prior service in military he is leaving college late, will be 26 year old rookie

    Cornerbacks
    1. Brandon Browner (6'4" 202) solid frame that could add even more weight, a very physical playmaker who is great in man coverage, an answer to the large physical WRs in the NFL, could play any position in the secondary; however, still raw with only 2 years of college experience
    2. Ron Bartell (6'2" 205) great speed for a big corner, very physical and aggressive; has the dreaded small school stigma and needs to refine his technique
    3. Alphonso Hodge (6'1" 206) very strong and can keep receivers from getting into their routes, ton of upside; but poor hands and won't get a lot of interceptions

    Safeties
    1. Thomas Davis (6'1" 230) great range and top tackler, solid in run support; still learning the position due to switching back and forth between S and LB
    2. Ernest Shazor (6'4" 226) monster hitter and great in run support; very raw and still developing
    3. Donte Nicholson (6'2" 219) top tier tackler and an athletic playmaker; still needs to improve his coverage skills

    ...and since they have to tackle for us on ST
    Kickers & Punters
    1. Matt Payne (6'4" 234)
    2. Rhys Lloyd (6'1" 220)
    3. Dave Rayner (6'2" 210)
    "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: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    I heard an old lady once say......."where's the beef"?
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    I hope they dont try to make Jackson a linebacker.

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    add Marlin Jackson to big DB list

    I would add CB Marlin Jackson from Michigan to the big CB list, he is 6'1 200lbs, and my fav as a first round sleeper. I'd like to get him in the first round and play him at nickle safety this year, moving Arch closer to the line on passing downs, with him moving to starting CB or Safety next year (much like NE did with Asante Samuel). Go LB/DE in the second (I think he skipped DE which makes me think that is the direction they may go early). Go OT/CB with both of 3rd rounders, a tackle and a guard, then come back to OL with 4th rounder, and RB/DE with compensatory pick.

    So the Rams would end up with (possible choices in brackets):

    FS (moving to cornerback later) - Jackson
    LB - Wallace/Burnett/Ware at LB or Swancutt/Tuck at DE
    OT - Munoz/Britt/Armstrong
    CB - D. Williams/F. Washington
    OG - Mankins/Brooks
    RB - Sproules/Gore if RB or Haye at DE
    with the 1st 6 picks.
    Last edited by ramhard; -02-23-2005 at 12:42 PM. Reason: addition

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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    Since there is no way we can get the one linebacker that has Ray Lewis type skills (Derrick Johnson is going to be a monster), then get the next best LB in the first round.

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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    "Let me say this: I like what I'm hearing from Coach Martz about what the defense likes, and what their ideas are, because it fits more my personal philosophy,"
    The Martz/Armey relationship couldn't be that bad if he's making this comment. They probably aren't best buddies, but it must help that they are in agreement in the types of players they are looking for this year.

    It may have strained the relationship in former years when Martz kept saying things like, "true a huge linebacker would be a great addition, but what if we get this versatile QB named crouch?"

    Doesn't look like Martz will be getting any "toys" this year!

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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    And that tidbit of knowledge allows me to know that we will have (depending on comps) 3 or maybe 4 picks after 150 picks have come and gone. Which makes me wonder, are we just grabbing at straws with those last few picks or what?
    It sounds as if the Rams have scouted around 1500 players, so they have some idea of what's going on in those later rounds. But obviously you're not going to scout them as intensely as you're going to scout guys who you want to take on the first day, who you want to be sure about. I would think that's why the number has decreased as time goes by.



    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    It looks like Marmie is here to stay, so if this is what it takes then give him what he needs. Bring on the the steak and potatoes, then hit the weight room boys. And steer clear of those treadmills, they only make you skinny.
    Exactly. If you want a guy to succeed, you have to give him the tools he needs to get the job done.


    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    Since there is no way we can get the one linebacker that has Ray Lewis type skills (Derrick Johnson is going to be a monster), then get the next best LB in the first round.
    After Johnson, the outside linebackers rank out something like this...

    Shawne Merriman
    Kevin Burnett
    Darryl Blackstock
    Rian Wallace

    Of that list, Merriman is the only sure-fire first rounder on there I think. Burnett and Blackstock have been mentioned, moreso earlier in the year than now, so I would be hesitant to get one of them without trading down toward the lower part of round one. After that, the OLB class is rather weak.

    On the inside, you've obviously got Crowder, Thurman, Mitchell, Rudd, and Morrison to top things off, but if the Rams grab a free agent MLB, then these names obviously won't be in contention unless we're looking at guys who can play both inside and out or a strictly situational or special teams guy.


    Quote Originally Posted by ramhard
    I would add CB Marlin Jackson from Michigan to the big CB list, he is 6'1 200lbs, and my fav as a first round sleeper.
    Can anyone in the first round really be considered a sleeper? Jackson was rated the second best corner for a short time before Pacman's stock rose. In fact, I think the only reason Jackson's stock has declined is because of the depth of this cornerback class.

    Plus, Jackson's a more natural cornerback. From what I've read, he didn't do well during his time in college at safety, even though some teams may project him there instead of corner. If the Rams are looking for a guy to cover the field, then I'd rather get a guy who excels at it at his position. Someone like Brodney Pool in the first round could be a great addition for a number of reasons. He's a projected first round safety who excels in coverage and is a willing supporter in the running defense.
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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    On the inside, you've obviously got Crowder, Thurman, Mitchell, Rudd, and Morrison to top things off, but if the Rams grab a free agent MLB, then these names obviously won't be in contention unless we're looking at guys who can play both inside and out or a strictly situational or special teams guy.
    A lot of good depth there at ILB this year. And I think even if we do get Hartwell or the return of Fletcher, I'd still like to see us take a mid-round pick on ILB; and if we're looking for a value pick, I think we could get Robert McCune from Louisville in the 4th round. The guy is an animal with freakish physical skills. He's a little older than most rookies at 26 and still has a lot to learn about the ILB position, but he could be our Special Teams monster. He's nearly 250 pounds and runs a 4.42 and loves to hit. I couldn't take my eyes off him whenever Louisville was on T.V. He would wake up our sorry ST units.
    "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: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    Now I don't pretend to know anywhere as much as these guys about this process, but I can add and subtract. And that tidbit of knowledge allows me to know that we will have (depending on comps) 3 or maybe 4 picks after 150 picks have come and gone.
    There is a difference between the Rams having targetted 150 guys, and the first 150 picks in the draft. They are in no way the same list.

    The first 75-100 are probably close to what everyone has, but then you have 50 or 60 guys that you scouted, and have minimal overlap onto other teams list, and will easily get you through the rest of the draft. That's why they sign the undrafted free agents right afterward, because so many of those guys are still out there after the draft. 150 is probably plenty.

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    Re: Rams' draft may favor bigger talent

    The first 75-100 are probably close to what everyone has, but then you have 50 or 60 guys that you scouted, and have minimal overlap onto other teams list
    If a full third of my scouting class had only minimal overlap with the other teams, I would be concerned about my scouting ability.
    "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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