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  1. #1
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    Hmm, I hope RamWraith, our trusty NewsMeister is okay? :l

    _________________________

    Free Agent Preview: DL
    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    By Nick Wagoner, Senior Writer


    Perhaps the main focus for the Rams in the 2007 offseason was beginning construction on a defensive line that was in serious need of an overhaul.

    The team parted ways with the likes of Jimmy Kennedy and Brandon Green. They followed by trading for defensive end James Hall and drafting Adam Carriker in the first round and Clifton Ryan in the fifth.

    Even with all of those moves, though, the Rams enter this offseason in need of more re-shaping along the defensive line.

    Make no mistake, the Rams hit on the choice of Carriker, who was everything he was advertised and Ryan, who was one of the draftís biggest steals.

    Still, the Rams struggled to put together a consistent pass rush, especially from the front four. When all was said and done, the defensive ends combined for just 5.5 sacks and the team had only 31 for the season.

    Along the line, only a strong finish from tackle LaíRoi Glover allowed the Rams to have a lineman in the top two on the team in sacks as he finished with six.

    Not helping matters was the loss of defensive end Leonard Little to foot surgery early in the season. Little, traditionally the teamís top pass rusher, had just one sack in seven games and will be 34 in October after recovering from surge

    Hall was disappointing opposite Little in 2007, posting 2.5 sacks in an injury-plagued season.

    Behind that duo, Victor Adeyanju continued to perform well against the run but was unable to provide a steady pass rush. Eric Moore and Trevor Johnson had some moments in 2007 but probably arenít long term solutions.

    All told, thereís no doubting that defensive end is one of the Ramsí biggest needs heading into the offseason. Kansas Cityís Jared Allen and Cincinnatiís Justin Smith are clearly the top two ends on the market.

    If the Rams canít find a pass rusher in free agency, they will almost certainly turn to the draft to groom a future replacement for Little and someone capable of competing with Hall.

    Meanwhile, at defensive tackle, the Rams solidified their future with the additions of Carriker and Ryan. Glover proved to be an effective player when used in more of a rotation and will likely return in 2008.

    The biggest enigma in the middle remains Claude Wroten, who is entering his third season without much on his resume.

    The emergence of Ryan at nose tackle allowed Carriker to work at the three technique and the duo worked well together. The coaching staff has indicated it would like to find a permanent spot for Carriker, who worked at three positions in 2007.

    The most natural fit would appear to be at the three technique with Ryan at the nose. Carriker could slide over on passing downs to make room for Glover.

    Still, there are some solid options on the market including Tennesseeís Albert Haynesworth who was dominant in 2007 and the highly underrated Corey Williams of Green Bay.

    While there are plenty of solid options available in free agency, expect the Rams to address their needs at end and tackle through the draft while kicking the tires on a number of potential free agent options.

    Top Five Defensive Ends

    Jared Allen, Kansas City
    Justin Smith, Cincinnati
    Antwan Odom, Tennessee
    Travis LaBoy, Tennessee
    Marques Douglas, San Francisco


    Top Five Defensive Tackles

    Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee
    Corey Williams, Green Bay
    Tommy Kelly, Oakland
    Brian Young, New Orleans
    Isaac Sopoaga, San Francisco


  2. #2
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    What I would LOVE to see is Albert Haynesworth play next to Carriker. With Chris Long at the end.

    Glover can be thrown in for Carriker or Hayneworth everyonce in a while.

  3. #3
    Bar-bq's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    On a brighter note, aren't we all glad the 14 start, 2-sack Charles Grant isn't an underproductive Ram?

    Allen would be a fantastic pickup, as would Smith. A DL that features Allen, Carriker, Ryan AND a Chris Long or Vernon Gholston makes me salivate in anticipation.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    You make a nice point about Grant. He was a guy I really hoped we'd pursue last year. Good thing he got wrapped up early.

    Despite Allen's ability, I'm not enthusiastic about the idea of him on the club. As someone else noted, we don't want to replace one guy who has DWI problems with another.

  5. #5
    Drew Guest

    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    Ah Brian Young...i liked him when he played for us,a very underated player,IMHO!

  6. #6
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    Not sure why Ravens DE Terrell Suggs didn't make Wagoner's list. He's shown over his career that he can be a legitimate pass rusher, though he's likely to be franchise tagged by the Ravens. Right now I'd bet Haynesworth will be tagged as well, which is fine by me because I'm not convinced he'd be worth the contract he'd likely demand as a free agent. Jared Allen will almost surely be franchised in Kansas City as well; not sure why they'd let a guy who got 15.5 sacks last season just hit the market. So really, once you take those guys off the list, it's not quite as opportune as it was to begin with.

    Really, I think if the Rams can find a second nose tackle to rotate or provide depth behind Ryan as well as a replacement for Wroten as young UT depth, the interior of our DL should be fine. Wouldn't hurt to renegotiate Glover, but he had a solid year so he may not be inclined and with our poor pass rush we're not in that good of a bargaining position with him. At end, we definitely need to find at least a future starter, either someone who can share time with Little on the edge or who can immediately challenge James Hall on the other side.

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    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    I think Suggs isn't up there because he is listed as a LB

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    Quote Originally Posted by 39thebeast View Post
    I think Suggs isn't up there because he is listed as a LB
    He's been a LB, and a pass-rush specialist, is a 3-4 scheme, to clarify. He's about the right height and weight to shift to 4-3 DE, as he's done when the Ravens were playing in that scheme.

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams Free Agency Preview: DL

    The emergence of Ryan at nose tackle allowed Carriker to work at the three technique and the duo worked well together. The coaching staff has indicated it would like to find a permanent spot for Carriker, who worked at three positions in 2007.

    The most natural fit would appear to be at the three technique with Ryan at the nose. Carriker could slide over on passing downs to make room for Glover.
    Thought this deserved to be pulled out and highlighted, what with all the Dorsey talk.

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