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Thread: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

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    Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Here we go again at defensive tackle. Since the days when D'Marco Farr and Ray Agnew ably manned the position for the Super Bowl XXXIV champions, the Rams have had a revolving door at the position.

    The help-wanted sign is up once more under coach Jeff Fisher, who jettisoned both starters from 2011 — Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan — prior to the start of the free agency period in March.

    So where do the Rams look? This isn't like 2010, when two dominant defensive tackle prospects came out: Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy.

    The consensus in this draft seems to be that the three best defensive tackles are Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State, Michael Brockers of LSU, and Dontari Poe of Memphis. Are any of them worth taking in the top 10, much less No. 6 overall, where the Rams pick?

    "To me, if you're talking top 10, there's only two names you can put in there, and there's a different risk/reward," said ESPN draft analyst Mike Mayock. "One is Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State. I think he could end up going (No. 9) to Carolina if he doesn't go earlier. He can play on the edge ... but I think he's better suited in a 4-3 as a defensive tackle. He's stout and can push the pocket.

    "The other guy is a wild card, and that's Dontari Poe. From a talent perspective, he's in the top 10. He's 350 pounds and moves like (Baltimore standout) Haloti Ngata. But he's a very average football player now."

    Some would say even calling Poe average is generous. Poe shot into the national draft consciousness with one of the best workouts ever for a big man at the NFL scouting combine.

    In the bench press, he treated the 225-pound weight as if it were Styrofoam with a combine-best 44 repetitions. Some stopwatches had him timed as low as 4.86 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a freakishly fast number for someone with a 6-foot-3 frame weighing 346 pounds.

    That wonder workout caused some to go back to the film room and look at the tape again. It was underwhelming for someone with Poe's physical attributes.

    "Poe is one of the biggest bust alerts in the whole thing," said Matt Littlefield, a former NFL scout who now works for Russ Lande's GMJr. scouting service. "He looks pretty, and when you look at him you think he's a dominant player. But he's not.

    "He should dominate at Memphis. He should just be destroying guys. And I'm watching tape and he's getting put on his back by guys that can't even get into a camp in the NFL."

    Cox appears to be a much safer choice, and probably would be a good scheme fit lining up next to Kendall Langford in the Rams' front four.

    "I like him, I just don't like him that high," Littlefield said. "He's not as good as (Corey) Liuget from what I saw. I don't think his production was that good."

    Liuget, who played at Illinois, was drafted No. 18 overall by San Diego last year. As for Cox's numbers this past season at Mississippi State, he had 56 tackles, 14½ tackles for loss, and five sacks. Numbers certainly aren't the end-all, be-all at the defensive tackle position, but Suh had 85 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks his final year at Nebraska.

    Brockers is young, having turned 21 in late December, and very raw. And he has very little college experience. He was redshirted in '09, and had one start in '10, making 2011 his only season as a starter. He has excellent size, long arms, but had only 79 tackles and two sacks total as a college player. And there are some who think he's better suited as an end in a 3-4 front, rather than at tackle in a 4-3 scheme like the Rams use.

    So none of those three — Cox, Poe, and Brockers — would seem to be in play for the Rams unless they trade down from No. 6. However, in a deep defensive tackle class, there should be multiple options for the Rams at the top of the second round and perhaps even at the top of the third.

    Devon Still of Penn State, Kendall Reyes of Connecticut, and Jerel Worthy of Michigan State could all be options at No. 33 or No. 39 overall.

    Worthy has had flashes of dominance, but some scouts feel he underachieves at times. Some say the same about Still, but unlike most defensive linemen, he rarely left the field at Penn State.

    "There were times when people thought (Still) wore down and wasn't very good, or took plays off," Littlefield said. "The bottom line was: he never got rotated off the field. So he was exhausted. He was killing himself."

    Reyes was a good, all-around college player, with size, athleticism, long arms, and some pass rush skill.

    "He just played at Connecticut," Littlefield said. "You can get lost playing there. You're sure not going to get a lot of national recognition. But if (the Rams) could get him at the top of the second, that would be fantastic."

    Alameda Ta'amu of Washington and Brandon Thompson of Clemson could be second- or third-rounders. A little further down the line, perhaps in the second- to fourth-round range, are Michigan's Mike Martin or Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe.

    Ta'amu is a pure nose tackle — very strong, very intense, and tough to budge at the point of attack. "He's massive and may only be a two-down (run) defender," Mayock said. "But those downs are going to be really good."


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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    I've toyed with the idea of going with Cox at the top of the draft, as there are interesting options at WR at #33. I really like Randle and Hill is a #1's body with raw ability. But in rebuilding, I'd rather have a bunch of safer options rather than swing for the fences.

    So, Blackmon at 6 if possible, and then I'll be satisfied with Still, Reyes, or Ta'amu in the 2nd. With our run defense issues, Ta'amu would be really fascinating to plug in.
    I believe!

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Per Michael Lombardi:

    I believe there are more teams in the league that don't think Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is a true No. 1 receiver than do. This is not to say he's a poor player, but he is not rare talent, not overwhelmingly special.

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    Per Michael Lombardi:

    I believe there are more teams in the league that don't think Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is a true No. 1 receiver than do. This is not to say he's a poor player, but he is not rare talent, not overwhelmingly special.
    What does that even mean? If you're not a "rare talent" or "overwhelmingly special" then you're not a No. 1 WR?

    More pre-draft nonsense.
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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    What does that even mean? If you're not a "rare talent" or "overwhelmingly special" then you're not a No. 1 WR?

    More pre-draft nonsense.
    People have Megatron-itis. If you aren't some physical freak at the WR position then you aren't worthy of going in the top 5 or 10. Nevermind the fact that there are numerous #1s in the league who aren't giants.

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    What does that even mean? If you're not a "rare talent" or "overwhelmingly special" then you're not a No. 1 WR?

    More pre-draft nonsense.
    I would guess they mean that if you aren't a rare talent, there are people like you throughout the league.

    We keep hearing we aren't supposed to compare Blackmon to AJ Green or Julio Jones because they were physically special. So if Blackmon isn't physically special, he isn't likely to be overwhelmingly special.

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    How in the world did we veer off course so quickly? This thread is about DTs not WRs. Unless Blackmon is playing DT, he's not germane to this thread.
    "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 looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    I would guess they mean that if you aren't a rare talent, there are people like you throughout the league.
    No, he's not a rare physical specimen. He is a rare talent. There's a difference.
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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    I would guess they mean that if you aren't a rare talent, there are people like you throughout the league.

    We keep hearing we aren't supposed to compare Blackmon to AJ Green or Julio Jones because they were physically special. So if Blackmon isn't physically special, he isn't likely to be overwhelmingly special.
    And we need overwhelmingly special? If Kalil/Claiborne/Richardson are gone, who is overwhemingly special? We need someone to catch the ball and score touchdowns, something we keep trying to get later in the draft, and last time I checked, we still don't have. Blackmon can catch and score touchdowns. What more does he need to do to be worth picking?

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    HUbison is right. This thead was derailed and I continued down the alternate track. My bad.

    As for DTs, I think there are some very good Round 2 options.

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    How in the world did we veer off course so quickly? This thread is about DTs not WRs. Unless Blackmon is playing DT, he's not germane to this thread.
    Well, technically speaking, he CAN. Much in the same way I CAN play DT, I'd just get destroyed worse than a car in a demolition derby.

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    If he ends up being what he's capable of, then he's the right pick for us here. Personally, I don't think he's worth a pick this high if you rate all the players available, but this is our biggest need and when it's all said & done, we have to weigh the options and make the best decision. Based on everything else we know about JB, he is the pick for us here.

    The Draft can't get here fast enough!

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    I'm not a big fan of the "hot & cold motor" tag. Because it seems like those motors are cold more than they're hot at the next level. Having said that, I'm starting to warm up to the idea of Ta'amu. If the idea of a paycheck will keep him in gear, he would be an amazing run stopper and pocket pusher. Another individual that I'd be happy with is Brandon Thompson. Not quite as talented, but more consistent than Ta'amu. And if we're going to wait until a later round, go with Nick Jean-Baptiste.

    Any of those 3 would upgrade the run defense immediately.
    "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 looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    Per Michael Lombardi:

    I believe there are more teams in the league that don't think Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is a true No. 1 receiver than do. This is not to say he's a poor player, but he is not rare talent, not overwhelmingly special.
    There are frequently college players who don't appear to have "rare talent" because their measurables are not off the charts. Yet they prove to have rare talent at the NFL level. Here's just one example:

    Isaac Bruce was drafted in 1994 - Pro Football Weekly's write up just prior to the 1994 NFL draft (Pro Football Weekly Draft Preview) is as follows:

    Isaac Bruce
    5-11 1/2"
    171 lbs
    40 yard dash: 4.58 Memphis State

    Notes: Santa Monica Junior College transfer. Stepped right in and started in 1992 catching 39 passes for 532 yards and five touchdowns. Had a banner senior season, grabbing 74 for 1,054 yds & 10 touchdowns.


    Positives: Good athlete. Agile with quick feet and fluid movements. Outstanding body control. Fine ball skills. Adjusts to the ball well. Very soft hands. Plucks the ball with ease. Will make the acrobatic catch. More quick than fast. Can run sharp routes. Beats the cornerback inside.

    Negatives: On the skinny and frail side. Inconsistent concentration at times.

    Summary: Looks skinny and is not a burner, but he is an excellent receiver. Webster Slaughter type, but doesn't separate as well.

    I would argue that Isaac Bruce proved to be a rare talent. He was a key component in the Rams' Superbowl win.

    If you look at game tape of Justin Blackmon, there is no reason to think he doesn't have rare talent. If you judge him on measurables, I suppose you could accurately say he doesn't have rare measurables, but talent - he has aplenty.

    Forgive me Hub for further derailment, but I couldn't resist. Av's short post got me going ..
    Last edited by MauiRam; -04-23-2012 at 02:49 PM.

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    Re: Rams looking for help at defensive tackle in draft ..

    MauiRam thank you for the memories. I would love another Henry Ellard or Isaac Bruce type WR on the Rams.

    Back to subject.

    With Kendall Langford being picked up. The Rams are in more of a need for a big run stuffer. I'll go with these DT's known more for stopping the run not much pass rush.

    1 Brockers has to much upside and has a little pass rush ability.
    2 Brandon Thompson
    3 Alameda Ta'amu
    4 Hebron Fangupu
    5 Nick Jean-Baptiste
    6 DeAngelo Tyson

    If Rams want a DT that can rush the passer.
    1 Fletcher Cox
    2 Kendall Reyes


    Good at both.
    1 Brockers
    2 Jerel Worthy
    3 Devon Still

    I wouldn't mind Rams drafting two DT in this draft. Darrel Scott on last leg better show some potential to be a starter. Don't need a career back up. If he can't push to start move on and draft a new DT.

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