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  1. #1
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    Rams' Draft Plan

    By Jim Thomas
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch


    An in-depth look at the Rams' needs heading into the 2005 draft:

    1. Right tackle. The lack of consistent pass blocking at right tackle held the Rams' offense back in 2004. A banged-up Grant Williams gave up 11 1⁄2 sacks in 11 games. Williams' replacement, Blaine Saipaia, was adequate at best and probably is better suited to play guard. After missing all of last season with a back injury, Kyle Turley is expected to be a cap casualty in June. The Rams need help at this position, and Oklahoma's Jammal Brown is a first-round possibility. Florida State's Ray Willis could be a mid-round pickup.

    2. Safety. Poor safety play killed the team in coverage and run support last season. Adam Archuleta has a back injury that led to a noticeable decline in play in '04 and could affect him in '05. The move of Tinoisamoa means Archuleta will switch from strong to free safety, where it's debatable whether he can effectively handle the extra coverage responsibilities. Aeneas Williams, whose contract is up, is expected to retire. The Rams would like to re-sign free agent Antuan Edwards, who replaced Williams. Given a lackluster free-agent class of safeties, the Rams might need to draft one or two. Michigan's Ernest Shazor is the best prospect at strong safety and Georgia's Thomas Davis is the best prospect at free safety.

    3. Defensive end. Bryce Fisher's late-season surge might have priced him out of the Rams' reach as a free agent. Leonard Little's status for '05 is unclear because he faces a possible league suspension and even jail time for drunken driving. Anthony Hargrove progressed nicely as a rookie last season but might be another year away from really being a factor. Even if Little returns, the Rams need another pass-rush threat to take attention away from him. Georgia's David Pollack makes a lot of sense, but there's no guarantee he'll last until the 19th overall pick.

    4. Guard. Chris Dishman and Tom Nutten had to be coaxed out of retirement to fill a void at left guard last season, but they might not return. The Rams have two young interior line prospects in Scott Tercero and Larry Turner, but Tercero might be used at tackle. Right guard Adam Timmerman remains effective but isn't getting any younger and ended '04 with numerous injuries. This probably isn't a first-round need -- or perhaps even a first-day need -- but the Rams need more young guard talent.

    5. Linebacker. This was one of the team's most disappointing units in '04. Other than Pisa Tinoisamoa, the linebackers lacked toughness and aggressiveness and got pushed around. With Tinoisamoa being moved to strong safety and Tommy Polley unlikely to be re-signed, the Rams could be looking for two new starters -- although Brandon Chillar could move into Polley's strongside spot. Robert Thomas likely will move from the middle to the weak side. This becomes a much lesser need, other than for depth, with the early free-agent signings of Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne.

    6. Running back. Steven Jackson is the future at the position, though he was slowed by knee problems as a rookie. Marshall Faulk remains useful, but he's no longer a difference-maker and has only a year or two left. With Jackson as the feature back, a smaller change-of-pace back with top-end speed and receiving skills would be a nice addition to the mix. Kansas State's Darren Sproles could be a mid-round pick, or Northwestern State's Derrick Johnese could be a good fit in the late rounds.

    7. Defensive tackle. If the Rams don't pick up a free-agent run stuffer, they might look for help on Day 2. Ryan Pickett had one of his best seasons in '04, and Jimmy Kennedy was a pleasant surprise in the second half of the season. But there are concerns that Kennedy's foot problem could become chronic. It's clear Damione Lewis isn't going to be the impact player the Rams were looking for when they drafted him No. 12 overall in '01.

    8. Cornerback. Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler are firmly entrenched as the starters. DeJuan Groce is the top candidate for the No. 3 corner and nickel back spot but has had trouble staying healthy. Kevin Garrett has been a disappointment in his first two seasons. Getting another young set of legs, perhaps a developmental prospect on Day 2, makes sense.

    TEAM OUTLOOK

    The team must make its four Day 1 picks (one first, one second and two thirds) count by picking players who can contribute right away. General manager Charley Armey has been running the Rams' drafts since 1998, and only once has he taken an offensive lineman on the first day. That could change this year. The offense could take off in '05 if Marc Bulger can remain upright.

    Pending free-agent moves, it's difficult to imagine the team coming out of Day 1 without a linebacker, offensive tackle and safety. But depending on what happens with Fisher and Little in the offseason, defensive end could leap up the priority list.


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Draft Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    Anthony Hargrove progressed nicely as a rookie last season but might be another year away from really being a factor. Even if Little returns, the Rams need another pass-rush threat to take attention away from him. Georgia's David Pollack makes a lot of sense, but there's no guarantee he'll last until the 19th overall pick.
    I hate this logic. If Hargrove is another year away from being a factor, then you sign a free agent defensive end to fill the gap - you don't spend a first round draft pick on a guy to fill the void until Hargrove takes over.

    The only reasons the Rams have to draft DE in the first round are (1) if Little is convicted and will miss significant time or (2) if Hargrove doesn't look to be the answer at RE, which is hard for me to believe since he started ahead of Bryce Fisher at some point during the season.

    I rank the team needs as...

    1. Right Tackle. As Thomas accurately points out, the right tackle position is a weakness. We all know it, so the question at this point is will the Rams change their philosophy and draft RT in the first round.

    2. Safety. Again, this I agree with, though from what I've read, Thomas Davis might better project as a linebacker because of his 40-times, and even if he were a safety, would be a better SS. Someone like Brodney Pool or Josh Bullocks would be solid FS prospects on the first day. Davis, Shazor, or Nicholson would make solid first day SS prospects. Someone like Oshiomogho Atogwe could play either position and could be had in round two or three.

    3a. Cornerback. Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler are marginal starters. Neither is a top-flight corner. I think Fisher could be a solid #2 guy, but Butler is probably a nickel corner. That said, are we really going to get a solid starting corner in the mid to later rounds? If the Rams have the ability to grab one of the top two corners at #19, they should certainly take it. Otherwise, grab a corner in the later rounds and hope he can develop into a strong nickel back.

    3b. Linebacker. Signing Claiborne and Coakley as free agents really improves this unit, but depth is needed. Outside of Derrick Johnson, I'd prefer the Rams not spend a first round pick on a linebacker. A solid outside linebacker may be able to be had in the second round, but the Rams are probably guaranteed a good middle linebacker on the first day.

    If I'm the Rams, I'm targeting Jammal Brown in the first round, a free safety prospect in the second, a corner at the top of the third, and a middle linebacker at the bottom of the third. If Brown is not available, I think the Rams either take a corner like Rogers or Miller, or simply trade out of the first round and acquire either an early 2006 pick or an additional second rounder.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Rams' Draft Plan

    I hate this logic. If Hargrove is another year away from being a factor, then you sign a free agent defensive end to fill the gap - you don't spend a first round draft pick on a guy to fill the void until Hargrove takes over.
    I couldn't agree more. I will be really upset if one of our first 2 picks is used on a defensive end.

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    Re: Rams' Draft Plan

    I think that we should go after either mike goolsby, lionel turner, or boomer grigsby on the second day for the back up MLB position, they all have a lot of starting exp. and could help on special teams

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    Re: Rams' Draft Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    If Brown is not available, I think the Rams either take a corner like Rogers or Miller, or simply trade out of the first round and acquire either an early 2006 pick or an additional second rounder.
    As unpopular as this may be, I think Nick has presented the best option. Brown is the only legitimate 1st round need that would fall to us. When you look at our needs:

    1. Tackle - Barron will be gone, Barnes isn't worth a 1st round pick
    2. Free Safety - Pool may be there, but I'm still not sold on him as a 1st rounder.
    3. Corner - After Rolle and Jones, I don't see another 1st rounder. Just my opinion, but I think Rogers, Miller, & now Washington are all 2nd rounders.
    4. LB - There's Derrick Johnson and then there's the 2nd round.

    Unless something weird happens between #1 and #18, I think Brown is our only legitimate 1st round pick.
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    Re: Rams' Draft Plan

    Rogers is really working his way up the charts, and I think has solidified himself as a solid first round corner. Miller and Jackson are late first round picks that might be a slight reach at #19.

    If we can trade into the lower first round or even the top of the second round, we have a lot of options available - we could take one of those corners, we could take someone like David Baas or Elton Brown, we could take a linebacker like Kevin Burnett or Daryl Blackstock, whom the Rams seem very excited about, we could shoot for someone like Pool at free safety, or we could grab a Khalif Barnes if he's there and not have it be as much of a risk.
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    Re: Rams' Draft Plan

    i agree regarding carlos rogers. he's not only helped himself by the combine results, he's actually the best defender on the auburn's defense. in the games i watched on the set he was all over the place defending passes and supporting the run. in the bowl game against virginia tech rogers made the biggest play in game by outrunning and flattening qb randall of VT, who's known for his running more than passing...

    i doubt david baas would be available in the 2nd rd due to the weak depth of o-linemen in this draft. elton brown may have the skills but there are some red flags regarding his dedication and desire to play the game. during the combine, he up and left telling the organizers that he's leaving, without giving a reason...

    kevin burnett and daryl blackstock were very good linebackers in the collegiate ranks but i think blackstock has more potential than burnett in the pros. blackstock is a big guy for a 20 y.o. at 6'4" 240... his combine numbers were so so but in the two virginia games i watched he #1 and ahmad #34 mlb were the standouts. one thing about blackstock is that he's coaches used him as an outside backer in a predominantly 3-4 defense. he was the best pass rusher of that team...i'm not sure how he'll translate in a 4-3 defense because didn't see him drop back to cover much at all... if both are available at the #50 spot i'd take blackstock over burnett...

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