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    Wagoner's Tuesday Mailbag (2/28)

    Tuesday, February 28, 2006

    Rich Saferite, Solvang, Calif.: Are the Rams very high on Jerome Collins at tight end; how about Jerome Carter and Oshiomogho Atogwe in the secondary? I think Atogwe has the highest upside. Would be curious to know your thoughts on these guys as well as any others who truly might be roster sleepers this year.

    NW: It's hard to get a feel for what the new coaching staff thinks of the rookies from last year until we get a chance to see how they are used in training camp. However, all indications are that of that trio, the new staff agrees with you and likes Atogwe the best. Atogwe came on some at the end of the year when he finally got an opportunity, but he was inconsistent at times, too. Collins is a project and I'm not sure that he will ever be the answer. Scott Linehan and the staff have said they'd like to upgrade that position and that means Collins could be on the bubble come training camp time. Carter struggled during the season and got plenty of repetitions and experience, which is a good thing. However, Carter had a reputation as a big hitter coming into the league, but it never translated to the field. As for other potential sleepers, I have a couple of names that could get a shot and excel with the new staff. Clifford Dukes, who ended up on the active roster at the end of the season, is a classic tweener. He's too big for linebacker and too small for end. But, with the new staff wanting to use elements of the 3-4, Dukes could excel as an outside 'backer in that scheme. Defensive tackle Jeremy Calahan showed some promise but will be coming off a major knee injury.

    Jimmy Mason, San Diego: I know this year's draft is filled with defensive talent, most specifically in the linbackers position, But I feel the players which could have the greatest Impact for the Rams will be gone sometime before the the 10th pick . Do you feel there is a realistic possibility in which the rams would trade up for a rare playmaker such as A.J. Hawk or Mario Williams?

    NW: I don't think the Rams will be able to afford to move up high enough to get Hawk or Williams where they SHOULD go, but that could change if things shake up at the top of the draft. The Rams have too many needs on defense to give up a huge package of picks for either player, but there are a couple of scenarios where a trade up would work if things fell the Rams way. Let's say, for example, that Jay Cutler continues to climb up draft boards and tight end Vernon Davis does the same. If, all of a sudden, the eighth or ninth pick comes up and Hawk or Williams are on the board, the Rams could probably then afford to make a deal wherein they would only have to give up about a third round pick and the No. 11 spot to do it. I think at that point, you have to seriously consider making a move. Of course, all of that depends on what the Rams are able to do in free agency and what the needs are by the time the draft comes around.

    Nick Jones, Tallahassee, Fla.: Now I know the Rams have a lot of needs defensively, but after watching Vernon Davis at the combine on the NFL network, is there any way the Rams would consider trading up for him in the draft (he is currently skyrocketing up the draft boards)? He is an absolute freak of nature! A 6'3", 253 pounder that blazes the 40 yard dash in 4.38, is built like the Incredible Hulk, is a willing blocker, and is a demon in the weight room, for an offensively-minded team like the Rams, he is the perfect fit. I know coach Linehan's strategy is to draft the best available talent and he is already in favor of uprgrading the tight end position. Do you think this draft is deep enough defensively to be able to potentially sacrifice a later pick to get Davis and still be able to draft quality players in the later rounds and is Davis worth it?

    NW: This is the question of the moment. I maintained, even before the combine performance, that Davis would be long gone by the time the Rams made their selection at No. 11. Now, I think you are correct and he probably will be gone before it gets to that spot. However, the idea of trading up to get him for the Rams simply doesn't make sense. This team's top needs are, in order, defense, defense and defense. You would have to give up at least a third round pick in addition to the No. 11 to move up to get Davis. That's prime real estate. You would then come out of the first day with a tight end and a defender in the second round. That takes you out of the running for the top defensive players and you aren't getting the immediate impact guys you need. I love Davis as a player and he will be in my top six or seven players when it's all said and done, but he doesn't play a position that the Rams desperately need and just isn't worth giving up more valuable real estate for. There is plenty of good depth on defense, but not enough as far as impact guys. The only way this team should move up, in my opinion, is to get an A.J. Hawk or Mario Williams.

    Daniel Burke, Sacramento, Calif.: According to some football sites, the Rams are going to be releasing Chris Claiborne this week. Is there any truth to this rumor?

    NW: From what I have heard this is a possibility. Claiborne has a bonus due soon and releasing him will give the Rams some more cap flexibility. Of course, the timing of it and the possibility of it will be determined by if and when the league releases all of the pertinent information for free agency, something it has yet to do.

    Colton Wheeler, Clinton, Mo.: Will the Rams make an attempt to grab Charles Woodson since he is now a Free-Agent?

    NW: I highly doubt it. I am not a big fan of Woodson as a player and I think the word is out that he isn't as talented as his reputation might indicate. That isn't to say he's a bad player, but he hasn't made many plays in recent years and tends to be extremely injury prone. Making matters worse, he is a Carl Poston client. Yes, that Carl Poston, the one who was a part of the brother tandem that held the Rams up on deals for Orlando Pace the past three years. He's going to demand big bucks, the kind of money I don't believe he's worth. The odds of him coming to St. Louis are probably about one percent, maybe less.

    Kevin Moran, Chicago: Who do you think would be better for the Rams Jimmy Williams or Micheal Huff?

    NW: It's pretty clear these are the two best defensive backs in the draft. I stated the other day that Huff could dial down the comparisons of himself to Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. From the Texas games I watch, the Longhorns didn't use him in that manner. He might be able to be that kind of safety, but he seems to be a guy without a true position. I think he'd be better at safety and I think he will be a fine player. In fact, I think he's a guy that might get a long look from the Rams in the first round. He's a good player and a good kid with versatility. Jimmy Williams is a confident, almost arrogant young player, but he has backed it up. It's funny, people talk about where Huff will play in the NFL, whether it be safety or corner, but Williams could fall in the same boat. Williams has better size than Huff, but Huff was more consistent and seems to come with the effort more regularly. I look at Williams as more of a risk than Huff, but I think he has more upside. It's a matter of preference. Really, when it comes down to it, Huff will probably be more highly rated than WIlliams and I think that's warranted based on performance. But there isn't a huge gap there.

    Ben A., St. Louis: I was looking around the league and there are a bunch of quality free agents, like Julian Peterson and Ty Law, do you think that the Rams will pick one of these guys up? They might be old but i think they could make an impact on the team, not only playing but also tutoring the younger players.

    NW: As far as Law is concerned, I think you can forget it. He wants a lot of money and he falls in a similar category as Woodson. Yes, he was fairly productive last season, but teams threw at him a lot more last year. And again, he has a Poston as his agent. I'd be stunned if Law ended up a Ram. As for Peterson, it's hard to get a gauge on what kind of interest he will draw. He has had injury problems and was just OK last season when he played. He might not command as much money as he might have two years ago, but again, it's another Poston client. Clearly, the Rams can't be held hostage by which agent a player has if they want someone, but considering the money they will demand and the actual value of the player, it probably doesn't make sense to make a run at those types of players. Personally, though, of the three Poston clients, I would take Peterson over Woodson and Law. He would be a nice fit for some of the 3-4 things the Rams will try to do this year.

    Dennis Rupe, Columbus, Miss.: What does a quality control coach do. Rams have one on both sides of the ball and I'm not sure of what they do.

    NW: Quality control coaches do a lot of the behind the scenes kind of work. They usually help script practices and keep track of the film of practices and break it down. It is their job to assist the position coaches and ensure that everything is run smoothly. The film they break down helps ensure that everyone is doing what he is supposed to be doing at all times.

    Bryan H. Attleboro, Mass.: I was wondering, who actually selects the players at the nfl draft? Also, do YOU have a say on who gets drafted for the Rams because you seem to know a lot of information on each player? Finally, I keep reading many articles on the nfl combine and I was wondering, what is the wonderlic test?

    NW: Fortunately for the Rams, I have nothing to do with who the Rams will draft. There are far more qualified talent evaluators upstairs that have a much better idea of who these kids are and those scouts spend their whole year watching these guys. I am lucky to catch good college games on Tivo every once in a while, so most of my draft knowledge comes from watching those games and then plenty of preparation and film watching when the NFL season is over. As for the Wonderlic test, it is a 50-question test that tests a player's ability to read, comprehend and process information quickly. You have 12 minutes to complete the test and any unanswered questions count as a miss. I hope to take the Wonderlic and write about it in the coming weeks to give you guys an idea of what it's like. Until next week...

  2. #2
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    Re: Wagoner's Tuesday Mailbag (2/28)

    Claiborne has a bonus due soon and releasing him will give the Rams some more cap flexibility.
    I thought Barry said releasing him would NOT create cap space?
    Will the Rams make an attempt to grab Charles Woodson.............Julian Peterson and Ty Law, do you think that the Rams will pick one of these guys up?
    Why do people fall in love with Poston clients? If I were in charge (probably a good thing I'm not), a Poston client wouldn't be allowed in the building.


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