June 10, 2006
St. Louis Rams '06 Draft Review
Scott Wright
President, NFL Draft Countdown

Mike Martz is gone and it's the dawning of a new era in St. Louis with respected offensive coordinator Scott Linehan taking over the reigns. The Rams latest draft class definitely features quantity with ten selections but it also gets solid marks in terms of quality as well.

In round one the Rams traded down four spots and tabbed Clemson cornerback Tye Hill, who might just be the cure for a troublesome secondary. Even though he lacks ideal height Hill plays much bigger than his size would indicate and was one of the fastest players in the entire draft. St. Louis has some solid players in the secondary but lack a true #1 corner so there isn't any reason Hill can't come in and start right away as a rookie. After trading away Brandon Manumaleuna, who was mainly a blocking tight end, the Rams brought in his replacements in rounds two and three when they selected Joe Klopfenstein of Colorado and Dominique Byrd of USC. Klopfenstein is a workout warrior with all the physical tools you look for in a top pass catching tight end and he could be the type of dynamic weapon at the position that they haven't had in a very long time. Byrd, unlike Klopfenstein, doesn't have great height or speed but all he seems to do is make plays so if he can stay healthy and out of trouble he'll have a chance to be a Jermaine Wiggins-esque type of player in Linehan's offense. This was basically a total revamping of a position and in one draft the Rams may have turned tight end from a non-factor in the passing game to a team strength that opponents must account for.

In round three the Rams took a flyer on L.S.U. defensive tackle Claude Wroten, who based purely on talent was a sure-fire first round pick until saw his stock take a nose dive due to troubles with marijuana. A penetrator who can also play the run well, if Wroten can keep his nose clean he'll be the top backup in the middle and really help to replace free agent defections Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis. Also in the third round St. Louis chose a linebacker in Jon Alston of Stanford, who is undersized and was even being looked at as a safety by some teams. Fast, athletic and hard-hitting, Alston will provide depth to start with but down the line he could work his way into the starting lineup since the Rams are far from set at the position. In round four St. Louis selected an interesting prospect in defensive end Victor Adeyanju of Indiana, who has all the physical tools you look for in terms of size and speed. Leonard Little is still one of the best in the business on one side but Anthony Hargrove's play left something to be desired at times so an opportunity could present itself relatively early on in Adeyanju's career.

With their fifth round pick St. Louis brought in Marques Hagans of Virginia, who played quarterback in college but will likely be a jack-of-all-trades in the pros. As a rookie look for Hagans to provide depth at wide receiver while also contributing as a return specialist on special teams. With the first of three seventh round picks the Rams chose inside linebacker Tim McGarigle of Northwestern. A very productive college player, McGarigle doesn't have the measurables you look for in a pro and the odds probably favor him working as a backup and special teamer for most of his career. Next St. Louis added some offensive line depth when they selected offensive guard Mark Setterstrom of Minnesota, who helped lead the way for some great Big Ten rushing attacks. Claude Terrell will get the first shot at left guard but should he falter Setterstrom could make some noise but look for him to be more of a backup in the NFL. With their final pick of the draft the Rams brought in some more offensive line help in the form of guard Tony Palmer of Missouri, who is versatile and will provide depth as he battles for a backup job.

Overall the new Rams regime did a nice job of addressing needs and getting proper value for their picks. Hill and Klopfenstein will provide immediate returns while Wroten, Alston and Adeyanju have a lot of potential to contribute down the line. It appears that St. Louis has shored up some leaky spots in their defense and with Linehan at the helm the offense shouldn't miss a beat, which together bodes very well for the teams 2006 outlook.

GRADE: B