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Rams’ 2019 draft reflects production over measurables: A player-by-player look

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  • Rams’ 2019 draft reflects production over measurables: A player-by-player look

    Rams’ 2019 draft board reflects emphasis on production over measurables: A player-by-player look
    By Vincent Bonsignore Apr 27, 2019 6

    The​ Rams came into the​ 2019​ draft​ holding their only​ first-round pick since​ 2016 and​ with various​ holes to fill​ both presently​​ and for the future.

    They never got around to pulling the trigger on their first-round selection, opting to trade it away instead. They poured the assets they got in return into a handful of subsequent trades to steer themselves up and down the draft board to acquire eight players they believe will not only compete for roster spots but also lock down important roles.

    The common thread among them — and characteristics the Rams put a particular emphasis on at the earliest stage of the draft-evaluation process — is intelligent, tough, productive players with a passion to play football.

    Players who consistently show up on tape, if not always in physical measurables.

    So much so that general manager Les Snead has a written reminder to that effect on an office whiteboard.

    “The answers to your questions are basically right in front of you when you sit down and watch the kids play football on film when you do it December and April,” Snead said. “Take the testing — you always go back to the tape, right, and watch him play football.”

    It may sound cliché, but as a Rams source told The Athletic, “It’s where we’ve had so much success the past few years.”

    Their draft board this year reflects the emphasis they put on production over measurables.

    Washington safety Tayler Rapp ran a pedestrian 40 at his pro day. But his game tape showcased a hard-nosed, instinctual defensive playmaker. The Rams took him in the second round and believe he’ll compete for immediate playing time.

    Rapp’s teammate, Huskies defensive lineman Greg Gaines, is on the shorter side at just 6-foot-1. But he was one of the best run-stuffers in the Pac-12 and dominated against his peers at the Senior Bowl. The Rams traded up in the fourth round on Saturday to select him with the 134th pick overall and have already pegged him as their starting nose tackle in the base 3-4 defense.

    Their last pick, Texas Tech inside linebacker Dakota Allen, was kicked out of college after being arrested for burglary, then worked his way back to Lubbock after all charges were eventually dropped, and he has been a model citizen and productive player ever since.

    Where some teams removed Allen from their board altogether, the Rams sat down with him face-to-face and reached out to the people who know him best at Texas Tech.

    They were satisfied with how Allen owned his mistakes and impressed with how ardently people vouched for him. On tape, he was a tackling machine who they believe will add special teams flair and has the potential to start eventually at inside linebacker.

    The Rams are counting on that process leading them to players they can count on as early as next season.

    “I think the thing you feel so good about coming out of this weekend is that there’s a vision for all eight of these guys and how they fit in the framework of our roster,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay. “Immediately, all these guys are going to have to come in and compete, but you can at least feel like, ‘All right, if this works out the way we project, these are guys we anticipate being Rams a long time.’”

    Here is a player-by-player look at the Rams’ draft class:

    Tayler Rapp, second round, No. 61 overall
    School: Washington

    Position: Safety

    Vitals: 6-foot, 208 pounds

    What’s good: Rapp was being mocked as a first-rounder before running a 4.7 40 at his pro day, a mark that could have been affected by a hip injury he suffered late in the 2018 season. The Rams benefited from the resulting fall and landed a great value pick. Rapp fills a future need at one of the safety spots but will likely get on the field early in sub-packages thanks to his advanced ability to diagnose plays and be a factor in run support and pass defense.

    What’s bad: His overall speed could cause issues in certain pass-coverage matchups, and while he packs a punch physically, it can sometimes leave him vulnerable to injury.

    Short-term impact: Rapp will be a Day 1 contributor in sub-packages when the Rams play three-safety sets and will likely make an impact as a rookie.

    Long-term impact: With the clock ticking on veteran Eric Weddle, Rapp provides an organic procession plan to ultimately replace him in a year or two.

    What they’re saying: “I think when you watch the tape, obviously, Les (Snead) had been a huge fan. He and his group had really looked at him, and he’s one of the top-rated players that we had in terms of just a guy who’s showing up, making a lot of different plays, showing a versatile skill set. And then once the coaches started to really look at him, he’s one of the guys that jumps off the screen. He’s got unbelievable instincts.” — McVay

    Grade: B+

    Darrell Henderson, third round, No. 70 overall
    School: Memphis

    Position: Running back

    Vitals: 5-foot-8, 208 pounds

    What’s good: Henderson was one of the most dynamic, productive running backs in this draft class after rushing for 1,909 yards, scoring 22 touchdowns and averaging 8.9 yards per carry. There is little reason to believe his combination of speed, quickness, power and vision won’t immediately translate to the NFL.

    What’s bad: He can sometimes play too fast for his own good in terms of setting up blocks and maneuvering around defenders. He might be a bit smallish relative to being a carry-the-load back. Blocking on pass downs could be a wrinkle to iron out.

    Short-term impact: Henderson offers so much in terms of speed and home-run potential as a runner or pass-catcher; it seems natural that McVay will scheme up ways for him to make an immediate impact as a change-of-pace weapon.

    Long-term impact: Depending on the status of Todd Gurley’s left knee, Henderson could turn out to be the long-range replacement answer for Gurley or the copilot who shares a significant amount of duties.

    What they’re saying: “He was a player that we identified as a unique playmaker. He can obviously do some things as a runner, but the versatility that he provides and some of the things that he can do are what was so enticing about him for us.” — McVay

    Grade: A-

    David Long, third round, No. 79 overall
    School: Michigan

    Position: Cornerback

    Vitals: 5-foot-11, 195 pounds

    What’s good: Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips prefers tough, physical, athletic corners who can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and provide tight, effective man coverage. And Long perfectly fits that profile.

    What’s bad: He isn’t the tallest corner, and he’ll likely play in the slot early on in his career, which will be an adjustment for a player so accustomed to lining up outside.

    Short-term impact: Depending on how the situations of Troy Hill and Kevin Peterson play out, Long has a good chance to earn a role in nickel- and dime-coverage packages as a rookie.

    Long-term impact: Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters are both entering the final year of their contracts, and given the ideal skill set Peters brings as a press-cover corner, there is a good chance he will be in the mix for a starting role by the 2020 season.

    What they’re saying: “When you get into David Long, the character is off the charts, and he is a guy that has a skill set, the ability to come off and play man coverage, be able to play physical and be able to stay in guys’ back hips and mirror. You can see he is able to cancel routes out as he goes, and he just shows up and in a really, really productive defense over the last couple years. This was one of the best corners based off a production standpoint and another guy that loves football.” — McVay

    Grade: B

    Bobby Evans, third round, No. 97 overall
    School: Oklahoma

    Position: Tackle

    Vitals: 6-foot-5, 295 pounds

    What’s good: Evans was a three-year starter at both right and left tackle at Oklahoma, and his body type, power and skill set suggest a capability to move to guard if need be. That versatility is critical on a Rams offensive line that prefers prospects who can cross-train at multiple line positions.

    What’s bad: He isn’t the best athlete, and at 6-5, he’s on the short side for a tackle. His average athletic ability could pose problems against athletic edge rushers.

    Short-term impact: Barring an injury, the Rams don’t have any starting-job openings at tackle or guard, enabling Evans to learn, grow and develop as a rookie while providing insurance as a short-term starter if need be.

    Long-term impact: Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth might be playing his final year in 2019, and with current left guard Joe Noteboom likely moving back to tackle to replace him, Evans could be in the mix as Noteboom’s eventual replacement at guard. Worst-case scenario: The Rams have a quality backup who can fill in at both tackle and guard spots in relief.

    What they’re saying: “A tackle that has some versatility, some athleticism. Playing the left tackle position, I think you saw him do a lot of really good things on an excellent offense this past year, and we have full confidence that he is a guy that really can play across the line, both the left and the right side; he might be able to play in that guard spot as well. When you look at where we are at offensively, we feel really good about Brian Allen and Joe Noteboom stepping up into big-time roles this year, and we feel like Bobby is going to provide some depth and continue to learn and develop under the leadership.” — McVay

    Grade: C+

    Greg Gaines, fourth round, No. 134 overall
    School: Washington

    Position: Defensive tackle

    Vitals: 6-foot-1, 300 pounds

    What’s good: Gaines was a personal favorite of Rams GM Les Snead, who was on the lookout for a true run-stuffing nose tackle content with manning his gap and stonewalling the run — as opposed to players more focused on the pass rush at the expense of their run responsibility. Gaines played that role at an extremely high level at Washington, and his relentlessness and passion for football make him a likely candidate to make a seamless transition to the NFL.

    What’s bad: He needs to immediately win one-on-one battles to avoid being overwhelmed by bigger opponents. He’s still a developing pass-rusher who might not add much to that part of the game early on. Lacks massive size and arm length.

    Short-term impact: Gaines is a relentless, instinctive run defender who could forge an early role on run-down situations.

    Long-term impact: If Gaines can develop some counter pass-rush moves, he has the capability to be a big-time contributor as a 3-4 nose guard.

    What they’re saying: “He’s a guy we identified that we feel like will really do a great job as a nose guard in our base package. He was an outstanding, productive player for Washington, but then when you get a chance to really watch the Senior Bowl, where he’s going against some of the best interior linemen in this draft, guys that we really thought highly of, I think you got a sense for what a competitive player he is — a guy that loves football kind of in the mold of what we talk about. But what Greg was able to do at Washington, and then when you see the production he had at the Senior Bowl, that was what we felt strongly about.” — McVay

    Grade: B+

    David Edwards, fifth round, No. 169 overall
    School: Wisconsin

    Position: OT

    Vitals: 6-foot-6, 308 pounds

    What’s good: A former high school quarterback and college freshman tight end, Edwards has great feet for the tackle position and an easy, natural fluidity to his movement.

    What’s bad: Edwards lacks great core strength and power, and in spite of the three years he spent as a starting tackle at Wisconsin, he is still a work-in-progress in terms of the technical aspects of offensive line play.

    Short-term impact: Edwards will likely spend his rookie season as a redshirt candidate able to learn, grow and develop under the tutelage of respected Rams offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

    Long-term impact: All the attributes are there for Edwards to be developed under Kromer into a dependable backup able to swing from guard to tackle.

    What they’re saying: “The last tackle we really, really desired, and thought we could put him in the hands of (offensive line coach Aaron Kromer) and start the development process.” — Snead

    Grade: C

    Nick Scott, seventh round, No. 243 overall
    School: Penn State

    Position: Safety

    Vitals: 5-foot-11, 200 pounds

    What’s good: A standout special-teams ace at Penn State, Scott is willing and able to pridefully and productively play that role. Has blazing speed, toughness and instincts to be a valued special-teams contributor.

    What’s bad: Didn’t play much aside from special teams until his senior year, when he made 12 starts at safety.

    Short-term impact: Scott has a good chance of cracking the regular roster as a rookie special-teams player.

    Long-term impact: Scott has a ways to go in terms of making an eventual mark outside of special teams, but he’s got enough speed and athletic ability to turn himself into a useful reserve over his career while being a standout on special teams.

    What they’re saying: “One of (special-teams coach John Fassel’s) favorite ever special-teams players that he’s ever graded. He’s probably been our No. 1 priority since Bones brought the POA to me.” — Snead

    Grade: C

    Dakota Allen, seventh round, No. 251 overall
    School: Texas Tech

    Position: Linebacker

    Vitals: 6-foot-1, 232 pounds

    What’s good: Allen is a productive and instinctive tackler at a position of major need for the Rams, who go into next season needing a replacement for Mark Barron. Fits all the traits needed to be a run-stuffing ILB in terms of adequate-enough speed and toughness and instincts.

    What’s bad: Was dismissed from Texas Tech after his freshman year after getting arrested for home burglary, so there is some obvious baggage. All the charges were eventually dropped, and Allen worked his way back to Texas Tech after spending time at a community college. Allen still has some refining in terms of fighting off blocks and flowing to action.

    Short-term impact: Has a chance to earn an immediate role on special teams while competing for the open job at inside linebacker.

    Long-term impact: Fits the profile of a Wade Phillips-type 3-4 ILB and likely would have been drafted higher without the baggage from Texas Tech. If he continues to grow and develop, he will put himself into consideration for a starting job.

    What they’re saying: “What was really neat, going through the process, was the mistake he made at Texas Tech — there were people at Texas Tech who definitely fought for him to get a second chance based on who he was. Great phone call today; I think it was one of our favorites because you could tell he was definitely appreciative to get this opportunity. Fun football player to watch.” — Snead

    Grade: B –

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  • Nick
    2017 NFL Draft Round 4 #125: Rams select Samson Ebukam, LB, Eastern Washington
    by Nick


    Nnamaka Samson Ebukam was born in Nigeria, but learned football early on in Portland, Oregon and excelled as a high school defensive end and tight end. Ebukam contributed as a true freshman, playing 15 games as a reserve (28 tackles, four for loss, three sacks). He was a second-team All-Big Sky selection as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end in 2014 (12 TFL, 7.5 sacks) and 2015 (7.5 TFL, four sacks). Samson was a team co-captain in his senior year, garnering third-team FCS All-American honors from the Associated Press with 15 tackles for loss and a team-leading 9.5 sacks.

    STRENGTHS Explosive athlete with a background in basketball, javelin and shot-put in high school. Triggers out of his stance with quick-twitch as a rusher. Attacks the edge with plus burst and has the desire to keep working when he gets punched and controlled early. Wowed teams with a vertical leap of 39 inches and a sub 4.5 forty yard dash at his pro day. Plays with a suddenness when crashing down the line after ball carriers. Drawn to the play like a magnet. Lauded for intelligence and work ethic. Initial quickness creates disruption in run game. Chalked up 15 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 2016. Rangy with a willingness to pursue way down the field.

    WEAKNESSES Tends to play too frenetically at times. Will need to eliminate some of the wasted motion with his flailing arms and legs. Gets overly focused on blocker in front of him and will lose sight of ball carrier. Wins with raw athleticism over technique. Better hand usage must become a priority. Gets glued to blocks for too long and can be slow to disengage. One-speed pass rusher who doesn't generate as much speed to power as hoped. Lacks the size to play through redirect blocks. Needs to develop a more nuanced rush plan with workable counter moves for next level.


    NFL COMPARISON Bryan Braman

    BOTTOM LINE Ebukam is a driven prospect with above average intelligence who is still in the process of matching his skill to his athletic ability. He lacks desired size and power to play with his hand in the ground and will have to move to an outside linebacker spot. Ebukam has a chance to get drafted on the third day and his speed, explosiveness, and motor could make him a special teams standout while a team works to develop him as a pass rusher.
    -04-29-2017, 10:05 AM
  • MauiRam
    Rookie Joseph Noteboom could be the backup plan Rams desperately need
    by MauiRam
    NewRookie Joseph Noteboom could be the backup plan Rams desperately need

    By Vincent Bonsignore

    LOS ANGELES — By the time the ice hockey career of Joseph Noteboom topped out in the 11th grade, he was pushing 6-foot-5 and well over 250 pounds. He was a big, fast, tough defenseman whose skating skills defied his imposing frame. The job description was pretty simple: Go find the guy with the puck and crush him.

    Noteboom had a particular knack for spotting unsuspecting puck carriers along the boards and then hurling himself at them with all his size, strength and might. Pity the poor opposing player and plexiglass when he timed everything up just right. Which was often.

    “Oh yeah, for sure. I was a big guy so that was my job,” said Noteboom, his devilish grin about as chilling as you’d imagine.

    About the only thing more absurd than imagining a kid that big flying around an ice hockey rink was the location. When you think hockey, Plano, Texas doesn’t exactly come to mind. But then, who would have thought a town in the middle of Texas would catch the hockey bug like Plano did in the 2000s? But that’s exactly what happened deep in the heart of football country.

    Before you knew it, nearly every kid in the region wanted to be Sidney Crosby.

    Or in Noteboom’s case, Drew Doughty.

    “In my area (hockey is) really big,” Noteboom said. “There were at least five ice rinks within 10 miles.”

    The pull of football and a prolonged growth spurt meant hanging up the hockey skates for good. That decision more than six years ago was as easy as it was wise, and it has led him to Los Angeles, where he’s a rookie offensive linemen with the Rams.

    Now 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, Noteboom delivered a crisp, efficient performance in a 19-15 preseason win over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday that, coupled with a strong training camp, gives the Rams hope they shrewdly uncovered a starting-caliber NFL lineman in the third round.

    Somehow a man as big as Noteboom went missing from the NFL’s draft radar last April over the first 88 picks, allowing the TCU standout to fall right to the very fortunate Rams at pick No. 89. They went into the draft needing to add youth and depth to a position that was top heavy and extraordinarily lucky last year. They left it with Noteboom, Maine tackle Jamil Demby and Michigan State centre Brian Allen.
    All three have played well enough to at least allow the Rams to ponder the possibility that they secured three potential future starters.

    That’s no small feat considering left tackle Andrew Whitworth is pushing 37, center John Sullivan is 33 and right tackle Rob Havenstein, left guard Rodger Saffold and right guard Jamon Brown are all free agents at the end of the season.

    The likelihood the Rams go through another season like 2016 essentially unscathed along the offensive line — they needed
    -08-21-2018, 10:59 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams sign another d-lineman
    by RamWraith
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    -07-10-2004, 05:18 AM
  • Goldenfleece
    Impressions: General Observations on Top Rams Prospects
    by Goldenfleece
    These are just general impressions I've been getting of players we might draft. Mostly, I've just been making note of comments that tend to keep coming up at different draft websites or particularly interesting nuggets of information about the players. I figured I'd post some of it and see if people had anything to add or correct...

    Round 1

    Chris Long, DE - A defensive end who does all the little things right from reading the offensive formation before the snap to getting his hand up after the ball is in the air. Gil Brandt at one point mused that every player in the draft had his flaws...except Chris Long. In an SI article, Lawrence Taylor's agent is quoted as saying Long is the closest thing he has seen to LT since LT was playing. Some people will say he isn't fast enough, but he had the 8th fastest 40 time for a defensive lineman at the Combine. That's not terrible, but keep in mind that Howard, Crable, C. Johnson, and Gatewood are 240-pounders that project as linebackers. That means Gholston, Groves, and Chris Ellis are the only true DE prospects who ran faster than Long. So he doesn't put on the workout perfomance that Gholston does, but he was in the top 4 on the broad jump, vertical jump, 3-cone drill, and 20-yard shuttle. He's just a really impressive all-around prospect.

    Vernon Gholston, DE - A physical freak of nature who also had good production in college. He can outmuscle or outrun his opponent as necessary. The downside is that he doesn't seem like the greatest technician, nor does he have the greatest reportoire of moves, nor the greatest football awareness. Some of the anecdotes from his high school years raise questions, too. When he first started football, one of the coaches kicked him off the team because he said something to the effect that he didn't want to kill anybody, he just wanted to play football. The coach thought he wasn't tough enough for football. When Gholston got back into football, they supposedly tried him on defense, but he was overwhelmed by the playbook, so they moved him to offensive guard where there was less to memorize. If you're looking for things to nitpick about, these examples might raise questions about his intensity, toughness, or ability to be coached. Overall, he seems like a guy who is already a very, very good football player but has extraordinary upside because of his physical tools and all the aspects of his game that could still get better.

    Glenn Dorsey, DT - A defensive tackle with a great first step. He is strong, quick, gets good penetration, plays the run well, etc., etc. His injury history has been closely scrutinized, but I am more concerned by his stat line. In 51 games, he managed just 13 sacks, 7 QB pressures, and 23 stops for loss. Fifty-one games is the equivalent of more than 3 NFL seasons. Do we really expect him to get more sacks against tougher competition? If not, would we be okay with a guy who would average say 4 sacks...
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  • Nick
    2018 DRAFT Round 3 #89: Rams take Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU
    by Nick
    Scouting Report: Joseph Noteboom
    2018 NFL Mock Draft
    DraftGeek’s Mock Draft
    School: TCU Position: Offensive Tackle Class: Senior Height: 6-5 Weight: 319 lbs Projected Draft Round: 4-6

    Scouting Report:
    Has a confounding prospect profile that is typical of most of the offensive linemen coming into the NFL lately- shows signs of good technique, balance, hand usage, bend, etc., but is wildly inconsistent. This pattern has much more to do with the offensive systems and the type of coaching they are receiving, as it doesn’t match what is expected of them in the next level. However, he showed well during the Senior Bowl, and if teams decide that circumstance is the reason that his tape is what it is, he could move into middle, even upper rounds. He has a big frame, but needs to add more quality bulk, but his athleticism and technique have shown enough to get the attention of scouts.

    Joseph Noteboom | 68
    OT | SR | TCU
    Ht: 6050 | Wt: 322 | Upd: 12/28/2017
    Hometown: Plano, Texas | High School: Plano High School
    Ourlads' Profile:

    At this point in mid-October, what was initially perceived to be a solid left tackle class after an underwhelming group in 2017 has more question marks than answers. The top players to watch at the position have either been hurt or don’t appear to have the foot speed for the left side. The top spot is still very much up for grabs.
    A name that was only somewhat on the radar prior to the season but has been creeping his way up is Joseph Noteboom, a fifth year senior and three year starter from TCU. In his first year on the left side, he has showed consistent foot speed and technique. The ultra-wide wingspan and easy kick slide make him a tough guy to beat off the edge. When his balance is there, Noteboom has showed the ability to neutralize both speed and power rushers alike. He does a solid job of keeping his hands inside with proper knee bend foot separation, making him able to maintain his power. There is still a lot of strength development and progression to be done, but his frame is easily something an NFL team can work with and matched with what he already has, there is a very high ceiling to work with here.
    Dave Syvertsen, Ourlads' Senior Draft Analyst

    By Lance Zierlein
    NFL Analyst
    Draft Projection
    Round 2-3

    Noteboom flashes the technique, hand usage, and athleticism you want out of the position but he doesn't do those things with enough consistency. His inability to gain and secure positioning as a move blocker is a concern as is his consistency as a finisher in running game. Noteboom was one of the tackles who flashed at the Senior Bowl in one-on-one drills and had a great workout at the Combine. The tape says day three, but his work during the "draft season" should get him drafted on the second day with...
    -04-27-2018, 07:24 PM