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Thread: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

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    To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    ...who do you plan to sit in the nickel?

    It's a simple question that doesn't have a simple answer if you spend a first or maybe even a second round pick at the position, because you draft players in those rounds with the expectation that they will be every-down contributors on your football team.

    Neither James Laurinaitis nor Alec Ogletree are being benched on passing downs. The Rams didn't give #55 a $42.12 million contract in September 2012 to be a situational player, and they didn't spend a first round pick on an athletic rookie only to have him sit when the ball's in the air.

    Meanwhile, Chris Long and Robert Quinn are outstanding defensive ends. Long was given a $60 million two summers ago and is being paid top money to rush the passer from his outside spot. Quinn is going to be paid soon enough, because he's only getting better with time. He is PFF's top ranked 4-3 DE.

    Having a linebacker like Dunbar or Witherspoon or even Ray Ray as your third guy makes sense, because you aren't going to sweat taking them off the field in obvious passing situations where you move to your nickel package. But if you spend a first or maybe even a second round pick on a third linebacker, you're intentionally either (1) spending high resources on a situational player, or (2) going to move/sit someone else whom you already have in your passing packages.

    So with that in mind, I turn it over to you all. I'm interested in hearing an argument in favor of a first or second round OLB, given this team's personnel and what I've presented above. Don't give me cliches like "Well you can never have too much talent" or "They'll find a way to use him." Give me the plan, because in the absence of a plan to make it work, there are other positions where those high resources would be better spent, in my opinion.
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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Dunbar plays sound football for the most part, in this position. I don't think a LB is a necessity in any of the first 3 rounds at least. Perhaps with an eye toward Dunbar's departure is the only scenario I imagine us investigating a LB this year.
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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    I agree 100%.

    I've seen a couple of mocks that had the Rams taking guys like Anthony Barr or C.J. Mosely. To me, that makes absolutely no sense.

    I have the Rams taking Denzel Perryman in Round 3 to help with the run defense. I think a player of his type would make sense in the middle rounds.

    Right now, DB is the biggest need area, in my view. I would also give consideration to "franchise OTs" such as Jake Matthews and possibly Taylor Lewan, WR if there is a belief that one of the top guys (Watkins, Evans) is a true #1, and possibly DT.
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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    I believe that Safety or CB is more of an immediate need than OLB… maybe even DT or OL. The only way I can see the Rams drafting a LB in the first two rounds is if an absolute stud falls down to us.

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    OLB is the only position I wouldn't draft. I'd like to resign Dunbarr, keep Tree and JL out there in nickle situations and let Ray Ray and Bates develop behind those three. Ray Ray has done a complete turn around on special teams, we no longer see penalties every game on ST from him.

    A DT to rotate with Langford and Brockers who can eventually start would be good. Though we have two veterans backing up Quinn and Long they could always go with youth in that rotation.

    We all know the troubles we've had at safety for a couple years. McDonald was playing good before he went down lets see how he does the rest of the way but more talent beside him is needed in a big way.

    The more I watch this year the more I'm thinking that CB is our #2 need on defense. Tru has been great but is now banged up, Finny also has been hurt and has played horrible, and JJ has been wildly inconsistent. One game JJ is a shut down the next game he's giving up big play after big play and looks lost.

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    I haven't seen that Nix guy from Notre Dame play much, is he really as good as advertised? All the draft experts seem to love him, and from what I hear is he's a great run stopper who's really quick off the ball. If he's as good as advertised I wouldn't mind having play next to Quinn, Brockers, and Long… dare I say we can have the Fearsome Foursome 2.0 on our hands lol

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinnie25 View Post
    I haven't seen that Nix guy from Notre Dame play much, is he really as good as advertised? All the draft experts seem to love him, and from what I hear is he's a great run stopper who's really quick off the ball. If he's as good as advertised I wouldn't mind having play next to Quinn, Brockers, and Long… dare I say we can have the Fearsome Foursome 2.0 on our hands lol
    Here is some video to watch from the BCS Championship last year and this year's game against Michigan. Check him out and let us know what you think.

    Louis Nix III vs Alabama 2013 BCS Championship - YouTube

    Louis Nix III vs Michigan 2013 - YouTube

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    I agree 100%. By the way Dunbar had six tackles behind the line of scrimmage Sunday, including the one on 4th and goal.

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Here is some video to watch from the BCS Championship last year and this year's game against Michigan. Check him out and let us know what you think.

    Louis Nix III vs Alabama 2013 BCS Championship - YouTube

    Louis Nix III vs Michigan 2013 - YouTube
    One thing that jumps out at me (besides the obvious number change from 9 to 1) is how quick he is off the ball. Against Alabama (and lined up against current Ram Barrett Jones) he seemed to be the only ND player who was able to consistently collapse the pocket and put pressure on the RB or QB. When he wasn't able to make the play, he always seemed to be chasing the ball and trying to make the tackle. He did get knocked around some, but when your going against one of the best and most physical OL's in NCAA history that's bound to happen. In the Michigan game, even though he was double teamed most of the game, he was still able to make some plays. I don't know if he's a can't miss prospect, but I do think he's worth a look.
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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Run a 3-3-5 with Barr lining up as a hybrid rush man on the outside. So I'd take out Langford in most cases. Mosley I don't understand, but Barr would improve both our pass rush and our pass defense, plays great in space and has a nose for the ball. And is a monster rusher - last year he was second behind Jarvis Jones in sacks in his 1st year playing OLB.

    So yeah, take Barr. Everything I've seen he's the closest thing to a sure thing, amazing ahtleticism and speed. Ogletree and him on the outside would be something else. He ran a 4.47 and has real closing burst at the end.

    A 3-3-5 is a pretty standard formation. Nothing crazy like the old defense that the Rams ran in the late 80s when they were doing a 1-5-5 featuring Fred Strickland.

    Long, Quinn, Brockers or Hayes, JL55, Ogletree and Barr... yeah, I'm really, really OK with that.

    I certainly wouldn't mind a CB with the Redskins pick, not sure you get value there though at this draft. Seems high for Gilbert. OT with Matthews would be good, I can see the value in that.

    But I'm a defensive guy at heart and Barr I think is going to be special. Will they go that way? Who the hell knows, Snead seems to go his own way on talent. Might be a guy from Bo Didley Tech that can really ball.

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Quote Originally Posted by demiurge View Post
    Run a 3-3-5 with Barr lining up as a hybrid rush man on the outside. So I'd take out Langford in most cases. Mosley I don't understand, but Barr would improve both our pass rush and our pass defense, plays great in space and has a nose for the ball. And is a monster rusher - last year he was second behind Jarvis Jones in sacks in his 1st year playing OLB.

    So yeah, take Barr. Everything I've seen he's the closest thing to a sure thing, amazing ahtleticism and speed. Ogletree and him on the outside would be something else. He ran a 4.47 and has real closing burst at the end.

    A 3-3-5 is a pretty standard formation. Nothing crazy like the old defense that the Rams ran in the late 80s when they were doing a 1-5-5 featuring Fred Strickland.

    Long, Quinn, Brockers or Hayes, JL55, Ogletree and Barr... yeah, I'm really, really OK with that.

    I certainly wouldn't mind a CB with the Redskins pick, not sure you get value there though at this draft. Seems high for Gilbert. OT with Matthews would be good, I can see the value in that.

    But I'm a defensive guy at heart and Barr I think is going to be special. Will they go that way? Who the hell knows, Snead seems to go his own way on talent. Might be a guy from Bo Didley Tech that can really ball.
    I like the way you think

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Quote Originally Posted by demiurge View Post
    Run a 3-3-5 with Barr lining up as a hybrid rush man on the outside.
    I appreciate the attempt to make it work, though I don't think Jeff Fisher changing his defensive scheme to a three man front is all that realistic. I also think it would certainly hinder the effectiveness of Robert Quinn and Chris Long by asking them to line up more as a stunting five technique than traditional 4-3 defensive ends.
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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I appreciate the attempt to make it work, though I don't think Jeff Fisher changing his defensive scheme to a three man front is all that realistic. I also think it would certainly hinder the effectiveness of Robert Quinn and Chris Long by asking them to line up more as a stunting five technique than traditional 4-3 defensive ends.
    100% this. Moving to three down linemen in passing situations severely hinders your two best pass rushers just so you can add a new young pass rusher. Dunbarr is an excellent run defender at OLB no need to replace him. Add another DT to the rotation to get Brockers and Langford a breather more often and you've helped the defense more than adding Barr.

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    100% this. Moving to three down linemen in passing situations severely hinders your two best pass rushers just so you can add a new young pass rusher. Dunbarr is an excellent run defender at OLB no need to replace him. Add another DT to the rotation to get Brockers and Langford a breather more often and you've helped the defense more than adding Barr.
    Can't say I agree with this analysis. The Rams already often play pass rush situations with 3 or even 4 DEs on the field and no DTs.

    Long moves into a DT spot and Hayes comes outside a good percentage of the time in obvious passing downs.

    So they are already taking DTs off the field and playing Long inside.

    Barr provides a lot more flexibility to your D. Dunbar is a solid run defender, but he's never going to be an elite guy and after a 4 game drug suspension is a guy you hate to have to count on - the next one does him in for a season, remember?

    Most people think of the 3-3-5 as just a variant of the 3-4, with the DEs in traditional run plugger modes. But you don't have to run it that way - South Carolina used it as their base defense in 2000 and had lots of success with it. Instead of running it like a traditional two gap 3-4 (and playing a run stuffing S up close), you can go single gap attacking defense with constant twists and stunts. Our best pass rush guys are speed and space guys, this fits fine with what they do.

    You upgrade at OLB in your base 4-3, put a lot more speed and big play ability on the field, and in nickel have a much more flexibility in your rush packages, as you can attack in multiple ways. It is a little worse against the run, granted, but when you stack the LBs you at least give them some protection and let them use their superior athleticism to beat the OL to the point of attack.

    It certainly can be done. And the fact Fisher uses 4 DEs at one time in some sets shows me he is primarily concerned with getting the most talent on the field, so it doesn't strike me as something that he would inherently oppose because its not his base defense.

    Again, there's plenty of other ways to go with the pick. But I don't see this in any way as a show stopper. You upgrade yourself in your base 4-3, you upgrade team speed and athleticism in the nickel, and you protect yourself against a guy that might inject or smoke himself off your team next year.

    Right now with the ratings given to the CBs I'd say if we want to upgrade there we could trade down, we don't need a S that high, and personally I think we are good at WR. So OT Matthews would definitely interest me and you certainly can't knock his pedigree or his efficiency. There aren't any top grade RBs out there. So looking at value I'd say Barr or Matthews, and as a defensive guy I'd prefer Barr. ESPN currently has him as the #2 overall prospect on their big board.

    But playing armchair GM is just an exercise in imagination. The Rams scouts aren't going to have the same grades on these guys as everyone else. I trust them to do a good job.

    Its just fun talking about the could woulda shouldas.

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    Re: To those who want to spend an early draft pick on OLB...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I appreciate the attempt to make it work, though I don't think Jeff Fisher changing his defensive scheme to a three man front is all that realistic. I also think it would certainly hinder the effectiveness of Robert Quinn and Chris Long by asking them to line up more as a stunting five technique than traditional 4-3 defensive ends.
    We are talking about moving to nickel in passing downs, yes? No real issue with running the 3-3-5 with the DEs in the 6 technique. You just need your NT to be a two gapper in that role. It would probably interfere with Brockers more than Quinn or Long. And running stunts for Quinn and Long both showcase their speed and aggressiveness. If anything, that plays to their strengths. We'd also have Hayes to spell them, and of course could switch back to the base nickel whenever we wanted.

    The other question is are you going big nickel (extra S) instead of extra CB. The Broncos run a big 3-3-5 stack a lot, especially against scrambling QBs. You end up running zone a bit more in those cases, with a single LB in spy. That would be a pretty good D against SF and Seattle when they go to their pistol read option sets. I think McDonald would be a perfect Spur (Strong Side Safety) in this alignment, with Stewart playing Bandit and McLeod in the traditional FS role. Or you could pop Finnegan in the Bandit role if he's still with the team and has recovered from whatever his problem was this year.

    Barr is really a case of 'best available athlete' when we draft.

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