The sad truth is that our defense for the future ranks pirority as follows:
5. JL ---- he is probably overpaid in a fast mans league where he game where his niche is strength
The sad truth is that our defense for the future ranks pirority as follows:
5. JL ---- he is probably overpaid in a fast mans league where he game where his niche is strength
I guess I'm almost alone in my belief that the Rams need to upgrade the OLB spot. Dunbar has been very serviceable in his role at run stopping. But as far as I can see if we get a shot at Barr we must go for it based on the upgrade he presents. His measurables are superb at 6'4" 248 lbs. plus he's got above average speed. In 2013 he's got 13.5 QB sacks. The guy is a beast and I'll bet money that Jeff and Les will opt for him over an OL in the top 10.
As for Mosely, I like him too despite his spot as an ILB. I've been hearing he can play the OLB position as well. I like his versatility if that's true, in fact I thought he did play OLB last year, but got hurt prompting him to stay in school for his senior year. He is slightly undersized, which to me is a minus, but he plays for Nick Saben who is on the verge of a 3rd straight BCS Championship. That tells me he's smart, plays with discipline and isn't a developmental player. It also doesn't hurt to have a guy who knows how to play ILB if JLau ever gets injured.
On the DT spot I liked Nix from ND, but didn't he just get hurt, ending his season? It's early but my take is that he's not a top 10 draft pick. I've seen mocks with him going in round 2. Regardless, if he's hurt then the Rams will need to do a thorough evaluation at the Combine. All this presumes he declares because he's an underclassman if I'm correct. If we want a DT, I'd look at Daniel McCullers of Tenn. He's 6'8" weighs 351 and runs a 5.05 40-yard. But he's a mid-late 1st rounder at best.
I still feel if we can upgrade the OLB spot, go for it. Dunbar is nice to have but think what our defense could be like with a front seven that rivals any team's including the *****. We do need to work on the secondary, but that's a different discussion. It's early too. We need to see who declares and how the Combine plays out. Good thread, Nick.
If Anthony Barr lands at our pick, we'd be idiotic to pass up on a prospect like him.
I think you're probably right in that playing a six technique wouldn't impact Long as much as I initially thought; though he'll occasionally line up wide, his skill set is that of a power end. However, I think Brockers and Quinn are going to be hindered quite a bit by this alignment.
As I see it, Quinn as a pass rusher is best from the nine technique spot, where he can use his speed to immediately challenge the edge of the line. Furthermore, asking Brockers to become more of a true two-gapping nose as the center of that alignment really risks wasting the athleticism and quickness that makes him unique for a man of his size.
I really see no reason to hinder the effectiveness of other players on this team just so we can add a specific prospect. That's not, IMO, how good teams are built.
This doesn't even begin to cover the Rams' lack of personnel in the defensive backfield to make this alignment work properly. St. Louis has one functional, starting caliber safety in McDonald. I feel as if we've seen enough of McLeod and Stewart to recognize them as depth players at best, which is why safety remains a position many fans want to see upgraded as we approach this upcoming offseason.
So while I agree that McDonald could make a capable Spur in this alignment, the Rams lack the current personnel for the Bandit role and still don't have a capable enough free safety on the roster. It's unlikely they find both in one offseason. Does that fifth defensive back become a physical corner? With Finnegan's efficiency a question mark after awful play this season, so much so that he may be gone in 2014, the Rams may have to find this guy.
And again, let's not forget that the Rams are supposedly going to be doing all of this work to run a defensive alignment that, unless I'm mistaken, Jeff Fisher has shown no real history of utilizing or preferring for his pass defense packages.
Thus, I think it begs the question, how realistic of a scenario is this, really?
Fisher has a preferred defensive scheme/alignment; it's one that is so ingrained in his coaching philosophy that his disciples have taken it with them when they've left to coach in other organizations (Schwartz in Detroit, Washburn in Philly). That combined with what I feel are pretty significant personnel concerns make the use of a 3-3-5 as a standard nickel pass defense an unlikely solution to the question posed.
But I appreciate the discussion nonetheless. :)
Barr is a great prospect, there is no disagreement here. I wouldn't be unhappy if the Rams added him, just... confused. By the very nature of the team's personnel right now, the Rams have two linebackers already who are already "every down" kind of players. In today's NFL, even-front teams just don't have three, and that includes the often-cited Denver Broncos as a 4-3 team utilizing pass rushing linebacker Von Miller.
One thing that hasn't come up is Jeff Fisher's drafting history. People like to bring that up often as it relates to Fisher and the likelihood of him drafting a first round offensive lineman. Yet let's consider it when talking about the acquisition of a first round linebacker.
During his time in Tennessee, from 1994 to 2010, Jeff Fisher spent only one first round pick on a linebacker - the 30th overall pick in 2000 to select Keith Bullock. One could argue the Rams just did something similar by spending the 30th overall pick in the 2013 draft on Ogletree.
So, how likely is Jeff Fisher to go first round LB in back to back years, when he's done it only twice total in his entire head coaching career? He spent far more years coaching guys up at the position than he did filling his teams with elite talent there, which is supported by Fisher's pursuit of capable veterans like Dunbar and Rocky McIntosh.
If the Rams ultimately end up with a Top 6 pick from Washington, I think it's far more likely - and makes quite a bit more sense - that they'd (1) draft an offensive or defensive lineman, (2) draft a defensive back, or (3) trade down and acquire more picks rather than spend that pick on an outside linebacker. Not saying it's impossible, because Barr is a talented player and coaches covet talent. But I simply think there are a number of obstacles working against the likelihood of that pick and in favor of going a different direction.
And none of it strikes me as idiotic.
I agree with Nick. All you have to do is look at the snap counts from last week. JL 79 and Tree 79. Dunbar had 34. Spending a top 10 pick on a part time player seems to be waste. Lets not forget that Dunbar is a really good locker room and game day leader.
Dunbar snaps this year has dropped off but he can still plays at a high level.Not sure why LB is considered a need. It's not like the Rams will have to pay him a ton to keep him.
I would like to see us have the starting three back next year so we can pick up where we are now. Look at what Tree and Dunbar did on back to back plays on the goal line last week. Consider we also have Ray Ray and Bates I just don't see a huge need for a player getting 35 snaps a game.
Nick your Aaron Curry analogy is very astute. I was among the many who thought he would be great pick for us, better than Jason Smith. Shows you what I know, although we can debate the merits of what we did in that draft another day, preferably waaaay in the future.
I see yours and Rambos points about drafting another 3 down LB. I agree that drafting a top 10 pick for a player who only sees 35 snaps per game is over reach. I just ask myself will each player's game (Barr and Mosely) translate to the NFL and once you answer that will they fit into our defensive scheme. Frankly I don't know the answer to those questions, but given what I do know Barr could be a huge addition to our pass rush given his size, while Mosely might be more of an Ogletree clone (if he switches to OLB). He could also replace Dunbar as a run defender with better coverage skills. I just think Nick Saben LB's , Rolando McClain exempted, tend to do quite well in the NFL for reasons stated in my previous post in this thread (smart, disciplined, talented). I'm also acutely aware of the economics in today's NFL, if you can draft a rookie who has good talent, that is preferable to vet with average talent.
I'm also looking at the options at #5 (as of today) and there isn't much we can use immediately. I would love to snag Jake Mathews but I cannot see us taking an OT given our other needs especially on the O-Line. So if the draft were held tomorrow, I would see Les trading the pick to parlay it into more picks later in the draft, or even a #1 for next year. This draft doesn't seem to sync up well with our priorities early. Later on I do see options at DT, FS, OG and CB.
To me Barr is a MUCH better prospect than Ogletree anyways, so I'd envision Barr as the 3 down player and JL/Ogletree not to be. JL nor Ogletree at this point have warranted the "do NOT take off on 3rd down" tag... Not saying they should be replaced but neither has been spectacular at all on 3rd downs.
I'm not passing up on a prospect like Barr. The ***** find a way to leave Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, and Ahmad Brooks on every 3rd down (yes that's 4 LB's). Coaches are paid millions of dollars a season to put these guys into a position to succeed.
Kendall Langford is struggling. He is not a good pass rusher and his has games in the run game. Brockers isn't bad at the pass rush but certainly isn't no Warren Sapp. Fisher hasn't been shy about lining up any of our 4 DE's at DT on pass rushing downs so I see no reason for it to happen with Barr.
You don't improve the team by putting good players on the beach. Barr would not be a good choice for us.
The Rams aren't going to do that with Quinn or Long; Quinn is developing into an All Pro caliber pass rusher, and the simple economics is that Long isn't making $60 million to be a part time player.
As for last year when they had Dumervil, the Broncos didn't have two other linebackers playing three downs; they had Miller and Woodyard and a situational inside linebacker. So again, it's not a comparable situation because they did in fact take a linebacker off the field.
Of course it's easier for the ***** to utilize four linebackers often; they run a base package that features four linebackers. When they switch to the nickel, they do so at the expense of their defensive linemen, not their linebackers, by utilizing a 2-4-5 alignment.
Looking at this year's snap numbers is somewhat pointless because of Aldon Smith's time away, but look at what they did last year. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga played less than one-third of the ***** total defensive snaps. That allowed them to keep all four linebackers on the field and sub in a nickel defensive back.
Again, that has little to do with the Rams, though.
Let's break it down in a logical sequence of events here.
If the Rams draft Barr in the Top Ten, they're committing him to an every down role. They've already financially committed to James Laurinaitis in that capacity, and their first round selection of Ogletree suggests the same for him.
So in nearly every non-base package, Laurinaitis and Ogletree would stay on the field as linebackers while Barr would shift up (ala Von Miller) to a defensive end-like spot. This would be great if the Rams didn't already have great personnel at defensive end, but they do. Thus, in nearly every non-base package, you're either benching Quinn or Long in favor of Barr at DE/pass rusher or you're shifting one of them inside to DT where they're less effective.
Here's an example of the adverse effect a move like that could have. If I'm an opposing coach and I see that the Rams shift Long inside to DT in most passing packages to allow Barr to come up to DE, then I'm filling my gameplan with runs out of multiple receiver formations (hoping to lure the Rams into the nickel) through the A and B gaps on Long's side, confident that my road grading guards could move him out of the way without much trouble on inside runs. And considering the Rams don't exactly have a stellar run defense as it is now, I can't imagine they'd be any better decreasing their size and strength on the interior.
So to piggy back on what Av said, you don't improve the team by putting good players on the beach or, if I may add on, at positions where they're less effective. If the Rams end up drafting Barr, then I don't see a situational where they aren't doing that.
So Dunbar and Langford are 'good' players?
Not this year they aren't. I'm hoping with Langford its because of a knee issue.
Dunbar has graded consistently as our worst defensive starter, period.
He has a negative grade against the run. He hasn't put a single pressure on a QB. And his pass completion against percentage is 100%. Yes, that's right, every single pass targeted against him has been a completion.
He is CLEARLY not a good player this year. And once again was suspended for 4 games due to a drug issue and could be removed next year.
OLB is one of 2 need positions to upgrade. And it happens to be incredibly talented at the top of the draft.
Safety is much easier to upgrade - there's no less than 8 quality starters up in free agency, including a couple of pro bowlers. If we pick up any free agents, that's the place where you'd find value. And again, both McLeod and Stewart have graded out higher than Dunbar, and are both younger and cheaper.
So that really leaves OT as the other spot. And Barksdale is grading out very high this year. If that continues, you may very well have your guy there. He's definitely grading out much higher than Dunbar.
If you want to run out of three and four wide reciever sets, fine. If you are running out of those sets all the time, you are taking FB and TEs out by definition. So the packages are fairly even, aren't they? You are actually saying pulling a FB or TE for a WR is a win for the offense against a LB? Especially very good LBs, which we'd have at that point.
So if it were me I'd take Barr if available and pick up a S in free agency where we could definitely upgrade (and a smart knowledgable S is a good reason to take a veteran there). That could easily put is in the top 10 in defense, and would create more big plays. We'd overmatch offenses in speed and force them into packages that favor us.
The 'it can't possibly work' mentality means you don't trust the coach. Good coaches find ways to get the best personnel package on the field. And if we take Barr, we've definitely upgraded our personnel.
Honestly, I don't trust Dunbar. He was outright CUT this year, remember? And it was for PEDs. Since he's been back, he hasn't graded out as good as he did last year. Before last year, he was an average LB at best. Right now, he's not even that. He had one good year - and there's plenty of reason to think it was a good year because he was on PEDs. Caught again, he's out for a season.
Personally, I rate OLB as the single greatest position the Rams have to upgrade. Dunbar should be a backup at best, if he's even on the team.
Now does that mean we have to take an OLB at #1? No, and I'd be fine with taking one later if we get a stud OT such as Mattherws or trade down (assuming there's a good trade to be had). But your premise is we can't possibly take Barr with the Skins pick, and I disagree -that would be a good use of that pick.
The argument that Fisher is simply too inflexible to possibly make use of a great talent in our nickel set is an odd one to me. I think he and his coaching staff can adjust to their personnel, and there's no doubt that adding Barr and subtracting Dunbar or Langford depending on the set would make us a more talented team.
At the end of the day its going to depend on the ratings the scouts give them, and of course who is available when we get to our pick. If Matthews is gone and Barr is available, seems to me to be a no brainer - or the other way around.
I was going to multi-quote and go point by point, but I really wanted to highlight this part first and foremost:
Furthermore, I've acknowledged that Barr is an option for this team. In previous posts, I've said, "Barr is a great prospect, there is no disagreement here. I wouldn't be unhappy if the Rams added him, just... confused." I've also said, in discussing why I think an OT is more likely, "Not saying it's impossible, because Barr is a talented player and coaches covet talent. But I simply think there are a number of obstacles working against the likelihood of that pick and in favor of going a different direction."
So let's get away from this idea that I'm saying he can't possibly be the pick or it can't possibly work. Neither of those represent the case I'm making here. There's a difference between saying it can't possibly work and not feeling like I've heard a great way for it to work.
The closest thing to a workable solution I've heard was from Barry in another thread where he said to just keep the base 4-3 package out on some passing downs and trust the athleticism of the linebackers in coverage. I don't think that's ideal, but I like that better than a 3-3-5 or shifting Long inside to DT on most/all passing downs to line Barr up at DE.
Anyways, to get back to some of your other points...
I'm not arguing that Dunbar and Langford are good. But Quinn, Long, Laurinaitis, and Ogletree are. And IMO it would be tough to keep all of them on the field in effective roles if you add another guy that is a three-down player.
The degree to which OLB is a need is one area where we disagree. OLB is an area of need, but since we already have two three-down linebackers, I think we can fill that need with a quality situational player, thus not requiring us to devote a high first round pick at the position.
I'm not opposed to replacing Dunbar. It'd be nice to upgrade at the other OLB spot. I just don't see a reason to spend a high pick on that spot, since over the last two years, it's been a situational position.
The real crux of the debate is, has Barksdale's play eliminated the need for an offensive tackle? I don't think it has, but those in favor of an OLB will argue otherwise because, as you said, it's probably the only other realistic choice at that spot based on the current climate and what big boards probably look like at this point in the year.
Since you've spent a lot of time referring to how players have graded out this season, I think it's worth pointing out that while Barksdale has played well, he's Pro Football Focus' 29th ranked tackle. That's not bad, but when you rank them according to PFF's assessment of their run blocking, he's suddenly the 56th tackle in the league. Not exactly so good we couldn't stand to upgrade.
And besides, you can take an OT even if you're a fan of Barksdale. Plug the rookie in at left guard like the Ravens did Jonathan Ogden, and then let Barksdale play another year at right tackle. If he can prove he's the solution by playing consistently or improving in his second year, you sign him long term and the rookie is groomed to replace Jake Long when he eventually moves on from LT. If Barksdale falters, you have an elite talent to replace him with.
I appreciate that you acknowledge we don't have to take an OLB with a first round pick, because I agree with that. We don't have to, because IMO, the need we have at OLB is a situational one, or at least that's how Fisher has used the other OLB since he's been here. And to be honest, I think that represents his overall defensive philosophy. I say that because it's what Schwartz is doing in Detroit and also what Fisher did in his final years in Tennessee based on the snap numbers I can access from 2008 and 2010. Furthermore, the fact that Fisher only spent one first round pick on a linebacker during his time as head coach in Tennessee makes me hesitant to believe he'd spend two in three years as head coach of St. Louis.
Now, I don't think the Rams have to take an offensive tackle with that pick, but I do believe it's far more likely than anything else assuming they stay in that spot. The fact that there is an elite tackle in Matthews in this class and possibly available as well as Fisher having a history with Matthews' father makes him an obvious frontrunner for the pick, IMO. But there are other quality protectors as well. We saw last year how much great talent at that position is coveted, with three going in the Top 5 and even two guards going in the Top 10.
If Matthews isn't there and the Rams aren't crazy about the other tackles, I'd prefer to see the Rams trade down. What we know about this Rams regime is that they aren't afraid to move up for a guy they covet (Austin) or back when the prospects they want are gone (Richardson and Blackmon). That brings a number of other positions - DB, DL, WR, and still OL and LB - into play as more prospects will be of quality value with a later pick.
If they stay put and take Barr, then you're right - they'll have added a lot of talent to their defense and that's never a bad thing. I'm just still hazy on the best way to utilize him without hindering anyone else already on the roster, but that's why I'm not coaching in this league. :)
Sorry for the length of the response!
I think off the top of my head that Finnegan has graded out as the worst started by far,