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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Wagoner: Sunday Evening (2/26)

    Sunday Evening
    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    INDIANAPOLIS -

    - Linebackers and defensive backs took center stage today at the combine and those groups weren't lacking for characters. There are some interesting stories in that group, but there are also some excellent players, particularly at linebacker. I spent my day chasing all of the top linebackers around in hopes that I could get a glimpse of what could potentially be the Rams' first round pick. Here's my quick takes on some of the top players.

    - A.J. Hawk is everything you would expect him to be. He's passionate, intense and confident. He says all the right things, but still looks the part of someone who could take your head off. He spoke at length about how the tradition and history of Ohio State helped him get where he is now. He even talked about how he could understand why most teams haven't gone out of their way to draft linebackers in the first round in recent years. In an "aw shucks" kind of way, he pretty much said he wasn't as important as a defensive end or running back or whatever. Well, we all know that isn't true. I said yesterday that Mario Williams would be the one player I would put on the Rams if I could choose anyone from this draft right now. Hawk is No. 2. I don't see any scenario in which he is available to the Rams at No. 11, but if he somehow fell into that seven-nine range, he would be worth trading up for. He's that good.

    - I have been kind of lukewarm about the idea of Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway. After listening to his story, I'm starting to warm up a bit. I have advocated taking the best defensive player available in the first round with preference toward taking a linebacker. I stand by that, but it has to be the right guy. Pisa Tinoisamoa is fine as a weakside linebacker. But the Rams don't need more of the same type of guys. They need a banger in the middle or a strongside guy who can cover, blitz and hit. Hawk is all of those things and he has proved it in college. Greenway says he is the same type of guy and I don't doubt that he can be serviceable away from the weak side. But the Rams have serviceable. They need playmakers, they need to be better than average. Greenway is great in coverage, but can he lay the wood? Can he blitz consistently and effectively? If he can, he wouldn't be a bad choice at No. 11. I'm just not sure that, aside from Hawk, any linebacker in the draft is worth the No. 11 pick.

    - Hawk's teammate, Bobby Carpenter might as well be Hawk's twin. Not only do they look alike, but they carry themselves in similar manners and are well trained in saying all the right things. That said, Carpenter can't do the things that Hawk can do. He even is willing to admit that he is best used on the outside. I believe he can play the strong side, but I would be particularly intrigued by him as an outside 'backer in a 3-4 where his pass rush skills can be best utilized. He's a relentless type of guy with plenty of potential. He is coming off an ankle injury, though, so that makes his status slightly questionable. Still, Carpenter is worth a look and he should be moving up draft boards as we get closer to April.

    - Florida State's Ernie Sims is a stocky guy who slightly resembles a brick wall. I can't imagine it is much fun to run into him head on. Anyway, he was a productive player for the Seminoles and was once the top recruit in the nation as a linebacker and running back. I have seen a few mock drafts send him to St. Louis, but in my mind, he is too small and more of a weak side backer cut from the same cloth as Tinoisamoa. I like his attitude and he will be a good player in the NFL, but he doesn't seem like the answer.

    - Alabama's Demeco Ryans kind of falls into the same category. He's a great athlete and he is all over the field, but he kind of reminds me of a better, more athletic Robert Thomas... Abdul Hodge is always around the ball, he'd be a great pickup in the second round, especially if he would be one of the inside guys in a 3-4... D'Qwell Jackson of Maryland is similar in many ways to Hodge, but I believe he would be more successful in a 4-3 than Hodge would... I'm intrigued by Thomas Howard of UTEP as a potential late first-day choice, he just finds a way to get to the ball... It's too early to determine exactly what position the Rams would like to address in the first round, but I believe it will be somewhere on defense and linebacker still makes a lot of sense. Just my two cents.

    - The defensive backs were less impressive than the linebackers. As corners and safeties tend to be, they are a confident group, but maybe a little too confident... Texas safety Michael Huff, who I like as a player and could be a nice fit in St. Louis, compared himself favorably to Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. You like the confidence, but maybe it should be dialed down a bit... Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams has an honesty to him that you like and he calls himself the best defensive back in the country. I'm not sure he's ready for primetime, but you have to like his size at cornerback... Devin Hester of Miami is intriguing because of his speed and return skills, but he really has no true position.

    - That will do it for me here this week. It's been a pleasure meeting these kids and getting a feel for what types of players they are and will be. I will leave you with my top five players I would be interested in for the Rams in April's Draft. Mind you, this is a realistic list of guys who could be available and takes into account position, talent and character... In no particular order...1. Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State...2. Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State...3. Michael Huff, DB, Texas...4. Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa...5. Leonard Pope, TE, Georgia....Of course, that will all probably change between now and the time I return to St. Louis...

    - This week: onward and upward to free agency...assuming that is, that teams decide to start without a CBA in place...so it goes in the NFL.

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  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Wagoner: Sunday Evening (2/26)

    I will leave you with my top five players I would be interested in for the Rams in April's Draft. Mind you, this is a realistic list of guys who could be available and takes into account position, talent and character... In no particular order...1. Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State...2. Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State...3. Michael Huff, DB, Texas...4. Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa...5. Leonard Pope, TE, Georgia....Of course, that will all probably change between now and the time I return to St. Louis...
    It's hard for me to consider this a realistic list of guys the Rams could take in the first round when it starts with Bobby Carpenter. Wagoner's Combine reports have been informative, but wow. The highest I've seen Carpenter projected to go is to New England, and I think that's even a reach right now.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Wagoner: Sunday Evening (2/26)

    I was thinking the same thing when I read it. DeMeco and Greenway should definately go before him, although I would love if DeMeco found a way to fall to the second.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Wagoner: Sunday Evening (2/26)

    Yea I really think Nick made a typo when he said Carpenter was better than Greenway and Ryans. I disagree 110%! But I may be being Bias. I like this article thougH!
    RamsFan16

  5. #5
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    Re: Wagoner: Sunday Evening (2/26)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    It's hard for me to consider this a realistic list of guys the Rams could take in the first round when it starts with Bobby Carpenter. Wagoner's Combine reports have been informative, but wow. The highest I've seen Carpenter projected to go is to New England, and I think that's even a reach right now.
    Might I draw your attention the critical wording here, "in no particular order." He doesn't say Carpenter is better than the others, and technically he doesn't say he should be taken in the first round. He just says the guy is somebody he thinks the Rams could realistically get in the draft and he'd like to see us do it.

  6. #6
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Wagoner: Sunday Evening (2/26)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece
    Might I draw your attention the critical wording here, "in no particular order." He doesn't say Carpenter is better than the others, and technically he doesn't say he should be taken in the first round. He just says the guy is somebody he thinks the Rams could realistically get in the draft and he'd like to see us do it.
    Fair enough, but then why put them in a numbered list if in no particular order? It wasn't written very well either way.
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