Round One Reminiscence From Rams Park
After it was all said and done, there was some action, some surprises, and some things I knew would happen in January. Long ago I wanted Alec Ogletree at 16 and Tavon Austin or another WR at 22. In the end, they might have paid a lot for Austin, but without question the Jets would have taken him at 9 or 13, and I got my wish on Ogletree at a terrific price after a deal down.
Les Snead and Jeff Fisher, and do not underestimate Kevin Demoff's input either, were willing to make moves to get the guys they wanted, actually the GUY they wanted, and still ended up with Jeff Fisher's big desire on defense, linebacker Alec Ogletree.
In the hours before the draft, it became clear that the Rams were looking to trade up for Tavon Austin, clearly the best skill player on offense in the draft, and maybe the only one who could make an instant impact when it comes to winning games and providing fans with an electric presence the team has not had since Faulk, Bruce, Hakim, and Holt.
In the days, even weeks before draft day, it seemed that the Rams would probably deal up from 16 if they could get their weapon for Sam Bradford, and down from 22 to recoup some pick or picks they would pay for Austin.
They did it all without giving up a 2014 pick yet, a draft expected to be stronger than this one at many positions.
Day one reinforces the fact that Fisher, Snead, and Demoff, with full support from ownership, identify what they want, what they need, and go get it, in free agency, and the draft.
Who has Fisher missed out on that he really wanted badly?
I love Les Snead, who has the passion and energy to really hold a media room, and he effuses positive energy. He has a beautiful wife, and a breautiful life here with the Rams and Fisher/Demoff.
When Snead wished Kurt Warner's son Zachary, who has been brain damaged due to an accident when he was a baby, a happy 24th birthday from the Rams family to a guy they consider family still, he had me forever.
Snead is a class act, especially for an NFL GM, and he shows every time I see him in action that Fisher and Demoff chose the perfect guy to be the head coach's wingman, a guy still clearly a scout at heart, who loves nothing better than this whole player acquisition process.
He understands the draft, which is anything is every coach's weakness, as seen here in St Louis clearly in the past. So does Demoff, who is the most open, media friendly, brilliant, honest, and just plain nice head of any football organization.
I loved Dick Vermeil, who gave everyone a bit of each of the Rams triumvirate of leaders all wrapped up in one, but this trio of football brilliance earns the most trust and admiration from this 50 year NFL fan and draftnik, who has seen a lot of good and bad in 17 years covering the Rams up close and personal.
The best of the best of last night was just hanging out after the official press conference and chatting up Snead and Demoff, and other Rams personnel with some of the other more rabid dratniks in the media. They love to talk about this stuff as much as any of us big time draftniks, and it was a draftnik dream to go in depth on this draft and round one especially.
So what did I find out that I can share here, you ask?
1. When it came to receivers, it was Austin, or no one in round one for the Rams. That is obvious from the price they were willing to pay to finally address a need fans have been screaming about. According to the Rams brain trust. "None of the other receivers could run." Obviously Cordarelle Patterson was one exception, but clearly the Rams were not interested in another WR project, even one with great upside.
2. The Rams were sure Vaccaro, Fluker, Cooper, and others they liked at 16 would be off the board, making that move for Austin more attractive, though getting Austin seems to be the focus of their whole early draft.
3. As I expected, the deal with Atlanta was pretty much a lock last week, if certain guys, particularly Tyler Eifert or a top four corner was there at 22. EIfert went 21st, which worried me a bit, but in the end, Desmond Trufant a guy Atlanta covetted.
4. Season ticket renewals were way UP, at a near record pace, even before the Austin pick, so the Rams really have a big time buzz going here again. Some exciting media market stuff is also looking positive for those in outlying areas of the Rams market. Their pre draft party, with Fisher acatually taking Austin 16th in their mock draft there, was a huge success, with a giant crowd turning out. The Fisher magic has taken St. Louis by storm.
5. Tavon Austin will not be limited in how he is used, as far as touches, and they also expect Ogletree , as well as the other two LBs to stay on the field in passing situations, which relieves the need for a third safety or fourth corner to play a bunch.
6. When Snead worked out Austin with Rams backup Qb, he texted his wife Kara Henderson Snead that "This guy is from another planet". The QB noted that Austin was getting to where he was supposed to go quicker than anyone they had thrown to, that it was like, according to Snead, "Throwing to a lightning bug".
7. Fisher compared Ogletree to Keith Bullck, who he snatched out from under the Rams in round one with Tennessee, taking the long time star a pick before the Rams.
8. When asked about possibly reacquiring a second round pick, Snead paused, and smiled, and just said "We'll sleep late, get a good nights rest, and come back tomorrow and see how it goes." Do not be surprised if those two thirds become one second for the right guy, or even if a 2014 pick could be dangled.
9. Some talked corner for the Rams as BPA, but Demoff said no way, that you don't pick a fourth corner in round one.
10. I am still worried about such a small WR's long term impact, but I do know that for the next few years, St. Louis will love this kid, who has a look in his eyes that makes me feel positive about his impact on this offense. You blitz Sam Bradford, Seattle, Arizona and SF, and leave that middle open at all, this guy is going to get open quick, and could go a long way after he catches the ball.
St Louis fans love the little guy, always have, in hockey, in basball, football, even basketball, when there was an NBA team here led by a little guy named Lennie Wilkins. and an ABA team with little Freddie Lewis as the fan favorite.
In hockey, even non stars like Doug Pallizarri (sp) and more recently a good player like Andy McDonald or David Perron are popular blues players.
In basball, fans love Jon Jay and Peter Koszma already, as they did Curt Flood, Tommy Herr, and Ozzie Smith is of course a legend.
In football, the list of diminutive but tough fan favorites goes back to Mel Gray, Roy Green, Pat Tilley, Pat Fisher, Larry Wilson, and then Ike Bruce, Az Hakim, Marshal Faulk, Dre Bly London Fletcher, Todd Kinchen, Danny Amendola and others in St Louis. Now it's Courtland Finnegan and soon to be Tavon Austin.
Some other thoughts:
Drafting a OLB instead of safety seems to indicate that Mikell will be back more likely than Daryl Smith getting signed, but who knows, Fisher could still get both those guys.
With two third rounders, one can almost bet one wil be used for a RB amd the other a safety, if they stay put, with WR and OL outside shots. That's where the 3rd round strength seems to be.
I really like EJ Manuel, even as possibly the best QB in the draft for teams playing outside, due to his strong arm and size. Still surprised he went that high though, but the Bills did a good job dealing down first and then getting their biggest need.
As usual, a first round of runs, but not on WR as expected. That will come in round two, along with ones on QB and CB.
I predicted a record number of OL in the top 20, and that's exactly what occurred.
I also predicted that Miami would move up, but like everyone else, I didn't know it would be for Dion Jordan instead of Lane Johnson, which certainly must have relieved the Eagles, or maybe not, since Jordan's coach in college is now the Eagles head coach, and they needed 1 3-4 OLB badly.
For those who hve been pooh poohing the idea that measurables and combine performance doesn't matter, this draft's first round should teach them that those 40 times etc do have big meaning to GMs, especially when it comes to guys one trades up to get like Austin, Eric Reid, Jordan, or Desond Trufant.
Guys who were great players in college, but had bad workouts like DE D. Moore, and LB Manti Te'o didn't make it into round one.
With Austin gone, in a deal that Snead knew exactly how high he had to go, the Jets clearly showed that Rex Ryan is still running the show, by taking two top rated defensive players despite a terrible Jets offense. Ryan seems t be trying to win 2-0 every game next year.
I was surprised Miami traded that much for Jordan, who has Jason Taylor upside, but could also be a Vernon Gholston bust.
The Bears may have reached for Kyle Long, but then again, he may have been the last starting caliber OL left.
Dallas seems to be in a state of chaos. We heard that Jerry Jones and his son walked out of the Cowboy draft room soon after the made their big trade down, maybe becuse Long, and Justin Pugh, went off the board before their new later pick, and because Vaccaro was gone already before the deal.
In the end, they threw a dart and took a center, one rated at about round three. He does look like he could play for ZZ Top, so that should help in Texas. Old Coboys fans are having flashbacks to 1979, when the Cowboys too Tennessee C Robert Shaw 27th overall.
Minnesota did a very good job, though Cordarelle Patterson is risky, but so was Percy Harvin. Getting Sharif Floyd was a coup that late, and Xavier Rhodes is a nice big corner.
The Niners, as I feared, did indeed get Eric Reid, but at least they had to use two picks to get him. Hopefully I will be wrong about his future.
The Patriots, again showing disdain for #1 picks, traded out. Someday, this is gong to hurt them, hopefully.
Good fit for blue collar type Bjorn Werner in Indy, as he would have gotten manhandled as a staright up 4-3 DE.
Depite a million question marks, I got 28 out of my top 32 list in round one, missing only Pugh and Long, who I had in the top 37 and rising, Manuel, who I had in early round two, possibly to the Eagles, Frederick, who no one had top 50 outside Dallas I guess.
My top 24 are all off the board.
The guys I had going round one that still remain, the beginning of my new top 62 remaining players, are DE Tank Carradine and Margus Hunt, LB Mant Te'o, and QB Geno Smith.
Here is my second round list, and there could be some early deals as usual, after teams re-stack their boards. Players Rams might deal up to get - #
1. G. Smith QB
2. T. Carradine DE
3. M. Hunt DE
4. J Cyprien S
5. Z. Ertz TE
6. Manti Te'o LB
7. J. Hunter WR
8. K. Allen WR
9. M. Watson OT#
10. J. Taylor CB
11. D. Moore DE
12. A. Brown LB
13. K. Greene LB
14. M. Minter MLB
15. E. Lacey RB #
16. S. Montgomery DE
17. R. Nassib QB
18. M. Barkley QB
19. A. Okeafor DE
20. M. Ball RB #
21. R. Woods WR
22. T. Armstead OT #
23. O. Aboushi OT #
24. K. Short DT
25. J. Hankins DT
26. J. Banks CB
27. B. Wreh Wilson CB
28. J. Collins LB
29. S. Moore LB
30. T. Williams WR
Top round three projections, where the Rams now pick 9th and 30th
Players that fit Rams with #
1. QB Mike Glennon
2. WR Q, Patton #
3. TE G. Escobar
4. WR D. Rogers #
5. WR A. Dobson
6. G B. Schwenke #
7. CB D. Slay
8. G B. Winters #
9. S P. Thomas #
10. G Khalid Holmes #
11. S S. Thomas #
12. DT J. Jenkins
13. DT J. Williams
14. CB R. Alford
15. S DJ Swearingin #
16. DT B. Logan
17. LB M. Buchanon
18. LB K Alonso
19. S T. Jefferson #
20. S TJ McDonald #
21. RB J. Randle
22. RB G. Bernard
23. LB C. Thomas
24. LB Z Gooden
25. RB L. Bell #
26. DE W. Gholston
27. RB C. Michael#
28. LB S. Porter
29. CB J. Poyer
30. CB D. Amenson
31. DT B. Williams
32. S D. WIlliams #
The early question in round two is where and when the top QB go, and also how many CB and WR go in round two.