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NFL Draft Day Two Ramblings

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  • NFL Draft Day Two Ramblings

    WHERE’S THE BEEF? ST. LOUIS!
    Many fans were concerned about the status of the Rams’ offensive line after the first day of the NFL Draft, noting that St. Louis passed on Andrus Peat in the first round to take what some considered a luxury pick in Todd Gurley. Perhaps now, with Day Two in the books, the Rams’ plan makes a bit more sense.

    If there was any confusion about what Jeff Fisher wants to do with his offense in 2015, the second and third round offensive line picks of the Rams sure answered those questions. The Rams traded down in the first round, adding another third round pick while still allowing them to stay in position to grab Wisconsin offensive tackle Rob Havenstein, arguably one of the best last names in this draft class while also being among the draft’s biggest bodies. Havenstein comes in as a legit 6’7” and is a mauler of a right tackle. He is exceptionally experienced in a power running offense, and has the potential to step into the starting right tackle job immediately.

    At guard, the Rams grabbed another powerful mauler in Louisville’s Jamon Brown in the third round. Brown has experience all over the line, but his future in St. Louis appears to be at guard. He’s able to move and has power to his game, and will contribute to opening holes for the Rams’ new stud running back.

    An examination of the projected offensive line reveals that the Rams may now have every position set. Barring the return of Joe Barksdale or the acquisition of a veteran guard (still a possibility), Greg Robinson and Rob Havenstein will likely start at left and right tackle respectively, Rodger Saffold and Jamon Brown could be the starting interior pair, with Rhaney, Jones, or Barnes leading the group at center. I wouldn’t rule out a veteran guard like Justin Blalock just for more veteran experience on a very young line, but there is a lot to like about this group and their potential in opening holes for Gurley.

    MANNION’S THE MAN
    There was a lot of speculation about whether the Rams would find a quarterback to groom in this draft, and sure enough, they did. With the extra third round pick acquired from the Carolina Panthers in their second round trade, the St. Louis Rams grabbed Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, reportedly the third quarterback on their positional board.

    There’s a lot to like about Mannion. He’s a four year starter in a pro-style offense; he’s not going to be the kind of project that other notable quarterbacks like Bryce Petty or Brett Hundley would have presented. Mannion is a tall, pocket passer with good timing, and his strengths – anticipation, play action passing, comfort with multiple drops, intelligence – are great signs for a power running offense. Professional coaching may be able to help some of his weaker areas, making him an intriguing prospect to groom for a year behind Nick Foles.

    If the Rams feel they have something, then they can keep going with him. If they don’t think he’s progressing, the fact that they spent an extra pick on him late on Day Two won’t prevent them from moving on to another quarterback next year if that’s the case.

    AROUND THE LEAGUE: DAY TWO
    Some Day Two notes and opinions…

    -Great move by the Giants, trading up to pick #33 and grabbing the safety they so desperately needed in Landon Collins. He fills a big need after they let Antrel Rolle walk in free agency. Their third round pick of Owamagbe Odighizuwa was great value and should be appreciated by a returning Spags.

    -I think the Bears have had a phenomenal draft. Kevin White in the first round to replace Brandon Marshall, Eddie Goldman in the second round to be their new nose tackle in the 3-4 defense, and a solid starting center in Hroniss Grasu in the third. Might be one of the most impressive drafts so far.

    -I have no idea what Carolina is doing. I’ve written about their first round pick Shaq Thompson in yesterday’s round-up; fine player but he neither fills a significant need nor was he great value on my board. The Panthers traded away their third round pick to move up and take… Devin Funchess, a big bodied receiver/tight end ‘tweener. I guess the plan is for Cam Newton to just chuck it blindly down the field after three steps before he gets creamed, and hope one of the big boys can go get it.

    -When it’s all said and done, the addition of Benardrick McKinney only makes the Texans’ front seven that much more fearsome.

    -You could argue the ***** didn’t get great value in their first two picks of the draft, with Arik Armstead viewed by some as a borderline first rounder and Jaquiski Tartt being drafted perhaps a round or two too early. But the ***** made up for it by grabbing Eli Harold in the third round, and he’s someone that NFC West teams will have to watch out for.

    -There isn’t much I like about the Patriots, but you kind of have to respect their “I don’t care what you think” draft strategy. The consensus opinion on their two Day Two selections was that they were mid to late Day Three guys, but you have to figure the Pats will find a way to get valuable contributions out of them, even if they’re relegated to taping practices or deflating balls.

    -For all the talk about the Browns trading up for Marcus Mariota or trading for Sam Bradford, they did nothing at quarterback. They didn’t even take a shot at Bryce Petty or Brett Hundley in the third round. Will their faith in McCown and Manziel pay off?

    -The Miami Dolphins will be fun to try and run on, with Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips hogging up space on the inside.

    -I think the Cardinals very quietly have had a nice draft. D.J Humphries in the first round will help improve the protection around Carson Palmer, which is what he’ll need to be successful. They got their pass rusher in Markus Golden – albeit earlier than I thought he’d be picked – in round two, and I think Rams fans will need to remember David Johnson in their backfield.

    -I like Seattle’s third round pick much more than their second. Frank Clark may have been undraftable for some teams, but he was Seattle’s first choice in this class. Kind of makes me dislike them even more, based on what I know about Clark. But Tyler Lockett of Kansas State should do some things for them in the passing game, which I’m not looking forward to.

    -If you’re Garrett Grayson, you’ve got to love the spot you landed in. Being groomed for a starting NFL gig behind Drew Brees and under Sean Payton. Enjoy it, kid.

    -I was a T.J. Clemmings supporter through this process, but man, has this guy fallen. I think it has less to do with him as a prospect but rather the foot injury that was supposedly found. I still feel like Clemmings has first-round talent but is just inexperienced. Clearly there’s something there that NFL teams aren’t crazy about, though.

    NEARING THE END
    Looking ahead to the third day of the draft, the Rams have some key areas that may need some attention. Some are calling for some help at center, but I think we’re nearing the point in this class where anyone the Rams could pick wouldn’t provide much of an upgrade over what they already have. Having said that, I like B.J. Finney and Reese Dismukes, though I now question whether the latter fits into the plan the Rams have for their line.

    With the offensive line and quarterback likely taken care of, it might be time for St. Louis to turn to the defensive side of the ball. The Rams could use some depth at cornerback, especially with both Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins entering the final deal of their rookie contracts. It’s not time to hit panic mode on finding two new corners, as one or both could be resigned, but it’s worth thinking about some insurance. USC’s Josh Shaw seems to be the most highly regarded corner still on the board, but he has some pretty troubling character concerns that might be causing his fall. It’s tough to find an obvious Fisher-like choice here. Tennessee’s Justin Coleman might be a guy to watch out for.

    Linebacker is an area where St. Louis might look as well, despite adding Akeem Ayers in free agency. There were rumors that the Rams were interested in inside linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, and what that might mean for current middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. With that in mind, I wouldn’t mind seeing Taiwan Jones added for depth and special teams purposes, and seeing what he could do. LSU’s Kwon Alexander could be intriguing as a developmental SAM ‘backer.
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