St. Louis Rams

Rams

NFL Team Column
By: Quinn Fulton
2009 NFL Draft Review
2010 NFL Draft Recap

21 April 2012

Rams Only 2012 NFL Mock Draft

The Rams have some major needs this year but I think with smart drafting our team can pull off an ok season.

1st round: WR Justin Blackmon. Sam Bradford’s number one receiver hands down, Blackmon will come in and be our second offensive focal point.

2nd round: OLB Zach Brown. Zach Brown is a super athletic linebacker who can start right away for us and cover all the athletic tightends.

2nd round: DT Jared Crick. Jared Crick is a pass rushing DT. He can be placed next to Kendell Langford and form a dangerous front four.

3rd round: OG Brandon Brooks. He has the good size required of an NFL Guard. He would probably be plugged in to start at the beginning of the season or part way through.

4th round: RB Ronnie Hillman. Ronnie Hillman is a player the size of Marshall Faulk and has the same skill set. Fun fact he also broke all of the Marshall’s records at San Diego State.

5th round. No pick. We gave this up for Brandon Lloyd.

6th round: C Mike Brewster. Mike was expected to be a highly drafted center after last year but has fallen in the rankings. He will be a nice pick up for Jeff Fisher.

7th round: OLB Travis Lewis. An injury knocks him all the way down to the seventh round where the Rams swoop him up.

7th round. WE will choose a punter.

Feel free to give me feedback at http://www.facebook.com/nfldraftdog

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10 April 2012

Looking for the good things in a dreadful season.

Well sitting at 2-12 waiting to play two playoff bound teams is not a good feeling for the Rams. We are now the worst team in football now that the Colts have won two strait. Congratulations Colts fans, I feel for you.

With all that said I think it’s time that we look at the bright spots in this rough season.

1st and foremost, lets give a round of applause for Chris Long. This guy has finally achieved Elite pass rusher status. He has a legitimate shot at the Pro-Bowl. Even with our defensive tackles giving no pressure, allowing QBs to step up in the pocket and avoid him, Long has still totaled 13 sacks this year. Give the man a nice trip to Hawaii, he could use it.

Lets not forget to look to the other side of the line. Robert Quinn has had a nice rookie season of his own. He has registered more sacks then Chris Long did his rookie year. Robert Quinn has 5 sacks and has blocked 3 punts. He is a special rookie who will eventually pair with Long to make a pretty good tandem.

As for our other rookies I can not say they have done amazing, but they haven’t completely sucked. Sure at the beginning of the year we had a problem with dropsies. But our 3 rookies, Lance Kendricks, Greg Salas, and Austin Pettis, are ranked 11th-13th among rookie receivers respectively. Each has around 250 yards and 25+ catches. Greg Salas especially showed flashes of getting yards after the catch before breaking his leg. He has outshone Pettis is almost every way. I am still mad at the Rams drafting Pettis. We should have drafted an OL. But the past is the past. Another terrible draft pick by the Rams.

On that note. Pettis was suspended for using performance enhancing drugs………. Really? He still sucks. He must not have been good in the first place if he is this bad WITH steroids. At least when Barry Bonds took steroids he won the home run title.

Back the bright spots. James Laurinaitis is still being a stud middle linebacker. He has 120 tackles, 3 sacks, and two interceptions. He is the heart and soul of this defense and should receive some Pro-Bowl consideration.

Our safeties. Quinton Mikel, Craig Dahl and Darian Stewart all play the same position. Craig Dahl is the back up sometimes starter. All 3 are among the top 6 tacklers on the Rams defense. Each has at least 1 interception and 1 sack. They are a powerful trio. Darian and Craig are young, while Quinton is a veteran and so is fellow safety James Butler. Our safeties are good thank you.

Hey while our offensive line may have been terrible this year, let us focus on the one bright spot, Harvey Dahl. Harvey is so mean, so strong, you have to love him, he has played every single game for us and is the best run blocker on our team. Hopefully he will have those two talented tackles of ours to play next to next season.
Brandon Lloyd and Danario Alexander. Brandon Lloyd has been consistent every week. He is the first Rams wide receiver in a while to have this good a season. Danario is on his best season as well. He has around 400 yards, has had some pretty spectacular catches, is Kellen Clemens favorite target, and will probably not need surgery this off season. That’s the best news of all. If Alexander can spend a full off season with out a surgery he may just be our number 1 receiver next year.

Our final bright spot.
Kellen Clemens. I knew about him, I had heard he was a wash out. I had heard he wasn’t very good. Then I watched him zip balls into the hands of our wide receivers verses Cincinnati better than Bradford had been and much better than A.J. Feeley. We have found a reasonably young, strong arm QB who can give us a solid back up to Bradford in the future.

And that raps up my sunny side up article. I will soon be submitting a more angry and depressing article, but until then enjoy!

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22 August 2011

LETS CELEBRATE THE CENTENIAL OF THE LOCKOUT

! Its now been over 100 days since the lockout started. The time for season preparation continues to declines. Since I have no free-agent moving to talk about I think I will talk about the building of our franchise.

            Steve Spagnola’s team will be built on a pass rushing defense, a young quarterback, a grinding offensive line, and integrity. “What the…….. JOSH PUT THE RECORDING MACHINES AWAY! I said integrity.” I know where Josh McDaniel came from it was considered ok to cheat but here in the heartland we have some honest people who like to play by the rules. A friend of mine is excited that we have Josh as our new coach. He keeps claiming that Josh will spark a recovery like that of Brandon Floyd and the rest of the Bronco offense. Ok that’s thinking ahead of where we are now. What has Coach McDaniels done for us so far?

First shown when he was the Bronco’s head coach, Josh McDaniels is a terrible drafter. He has tunnel vision when it comes to the draft. He was convinced that he wanted a quarterback and by golly he was gonna get one. Never mind he already had Brady Quinn and Kyle Orton in the stable, he wanted another one and abra kadabra he traded to get Tim Tebow.

Now what does he do in St.Louis? He decides he wants wide receivers.  So he goes and grabs Austin Pettis and Greg Salas. Now understand me I appreciate the Greg Salas pick he was a great value and we did need one more target. But it’s hard for me to appreciate Austin when the Rams passed up Kendel Hunter, the shifty RB and Casey Mathews the hard hitting linebacker whose whole family has excelled at football. We need linebackers more than we need receivers. So Austin was a wasted pick.

Now we add Austin Greg and Lance to a full stable. Josh forgot that we have Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander, Mark Clayton, and Donnie Avery coming back to the lineup. So now we have 6 wide receivers………. And 1 good linebacker……… HELLO! Obviously math was not Josh’s strong point.

But Lance Kendricks is a TE. Lets see we have Michael Hoowananui who was a starter last year and physical freak Fendi Onobun who is faster, stronger and taller than Lance. Well Lance can play full back too……….oh wait we have a mean player in Brit Miller………. How many roster spots does Josh want to reserve for his offense? At this rate we’ll have room for only a few defensive players.

I was disappointed in Josh’s draft and want him to be fired as soon as possible. Who knows, we may catch him cheating again. He did it in Boston, he did it in Denver, so whose to say he won’t do it here.

Or…… He may bring the Rams into the glory days that may rival the golden completions between Kurt Warner and Tory Holt. But I doubt it.

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5 December 2010

Rams playoff Hopes and a look back at the 2009 draft.

The Rams have done it. They won their first road game with a 36-33 victory over the Denver Broncos in Denver. The Ram again sit atop the NFC West with a 5-6 record with e legitimate shot at a playoff berth. This has been the first time the Rams have been playing meaningful football in December in a long time.

This week the Rams play the Arizona cardinals on the road. The Cards beat the Rams in the season opener and served the Rams their first and only home loss of the season. Since then the Rams have improved and the Cardinals have declined. But the Rams are not going into this game cocky, as they remember the loss to the cards in week one. But there are several factors working in the rams favor.

1. In his first NFL start Bradford threw 3 interceptions. Since then he has set a rookie record for most pass attempts without an interception.

2. Chris Long has come alive and has recorded 7 sacks.

3. Danario Alexander is back and ready to gash a weak Arizona secondary like the Broncos last week. (Alexander had 4 receptions for 95 yards)

4, The Cards came into the season with a little bit of swagger and confidence. Since then their team has been beaten often and badly. Their confidence and swagger is long gone.

These are a few reasons why I think the Rams are going to win their rematch with the cards.

Now here is a fun fact I think you should all know. The Cards have a sold linebacker. One who has more tackles than anyone on the Rams. Paris Lennon has 85+ tackles so far this season and leads the Cards in tackles. The Rams cut Lennon last year, but he seems to have blossomed in the Card’s 3-4 defense.

The Rams still have to play the Saints: Which will be a tough game.

The Chiefs: another toughy

49ers: Tough, bit no more Frank Gore/

AND SEATTLE: We got this one. Win in the bag,

It is very possible to win 3 more of these games and win the Division with an 8-8 record.

Now here is a subject that has been brought up several times in the the last few weeks. Should a team with a losing record make it into the playoffs? Well if the division winner has a 7-9 record then oh well. He’s in the playoffs. I don’t want to hear anymore people crying because their team is 9-7 and didn’t get a wild card while the 7-9 Rams get in. Tough luck, that’s how the division turned out. If your not going to give division winners a playoff berth why have divisions at all? Thank you.

Now I think we should take a look back at the 2009 draft.

1st round . Jason Smith: Looking back, Michael Oher might have been a better pick. Jason has developed into a great right tackle. Sam rolls out to his side on almost every play action pass and has time to throw. He was not the start left tackle we were hoping for however.

2nd round. James Laurinaitis: Leads the team in tackles……again. He has become a leader on this team and one of the best middle linebackers in the league. He was a terrific pick. MLB Rey Malauga from USC is, where is he again? Good thing we passed on him.

3rd round. Bradley Fletcher: Started 10 games this year and has recorded several interceptions and is one of the top tacklers. Finally a 3rd round corner worked out.

4th round:  Darrell Scott. Back up DT who has shown promise.

5th round: Brooks Foster: No longer with the team.

6th round Keith Null: Back up QB in Carolina.

7th Chris Obannaya: No longer with the team.

This draft was one of the best drafts we have had……EVER. It seems we will be building off this draft class for quite some time. Lets hopes these players contribute so we can make it to the playoffs.

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2 December 2010

Familiar sight: Cards have no answers

Long before the game ended, the home crowd fans at the University of Phoenix Stadium filed out. It didn’t take long to see dejected players on the Cardinal’s sidelines. Heads down, shoulders slumped. It’s been that kind of season. Last Monday night it was more of the same. The San Francisco 49ers ran up, down, and through the Cards in route to an ugly 27-6 defeat on national television. With a 3-8 record the Cards find themselves in the cellar of the NFC West standings. Though not mathematically eliminated, the post season seems improbable.

The flow of the game was evident right from the start and it clearly favored the 49ers (4-7). On their first snap from scrimmage, RB Frank Gore burst up the middle for a 25 yard run. The 49ers eventually set up for what turned out to be an unsuccessful field goal, but established a ground attack that the Cards had no answer for. The Cards fumbled away their first offensive possession when QB Derek Anderson (16/35 196 1int.) mishandled the handoff to RB Beanie Wells at the Arizona 38 yard line.

On the next play, 49er’s QB Troy Smith (11/23 136 1td 1int.) found WR Michael Crabtree for a 38 yard touchdown pass. The Niners’ never looked back. The frustration from losing seems to be taking its toll on super star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who had a rare drop. Trailing 21-3 and time running out in the second quarter, an 18 yard pass in the end zone looked like a sure score until Fitzgerald couldn’t hold on to the  ball when he hit the ground.

“I’m sick of losing,” WR Steve Breaston was quoted as saying.  “To say I’m extremely disappointed would be an understatement,” Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt was quoted as saying. “It was a very poor effort tonight and we got beat in all phases of the game.”

The upstart St Louis Rams (5-6) come to town December 5 and are looking to avenge their 17-13 loss to the Cards in week one.  Although changes seem to be needed in this all but lost season for the Cards, Whisenhunt thinks otherwise. “To change drastically doesn’t make sense,” he was quoted as saying.” Yeah I’m disappointed and I understand the fans disappointment of our poor play. I think that when you make wholesale changes you run the risk of losing your identity of who you are.”

I don’t know about you but someone should let Whisenhunt in on the secret that the Cards identity right now is that of losers.

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16 November 2010

Rams Lose in OT to the 49ers 23-20

Dissapointment Sets In

Before we move on let me just take this time to congratulate our defensive line. They registered another day of multiple sacks. 5 total verses San Francisco. In my mind I think the secondary is the thing to blame. Many Blown coverages were cost us the lead. I think it is safe to say Kevin Dockery is not a starting CB. Ron Bartell has even fallen in production. Even Jerome Murphey was blowing coverages. Lets go Bradley Fletcher at least your playing well for us.

I am very disappointed with our corners and weak side linebackers. Larry Grant? Not the answer. Chris Chamberlein? He was hot and cold. I think David Vobora is our best option right now.  I hope the Rams spend a lot of money on a free agent OLB or pick one early on in the draft. We also need a really mean guard. Adam Goldberg doesn’t cut it. Steven Jackson had no where to run today. I think we draft a big Samoan guard and we will be much more productive in the run game. Our safeties need to step up as well. Craig Dahl is magnificent in tackling but doesn’t seem to be able to cover well. O.J just has dropped off production. I think we should give Michael Lewis and James Butler a chance to start and see if they can do better. Then again I would be fine with playing all four as our defensive back starters.

Craig Dahl……..where to begin. He is definitely our hardest hitting defensive back. He racked up 10 tackles verses San Francisco. He is second in tackling on our team with 46 tackles behind MLB James who has 59. It appears to me Craig isn’t suppose to cover, he’s suppose to make the wide outs afraid to go over the middle. He is a hard hitter.

I think Chris Long is doing amazingly well. He had more sacks today and never gives up. I think he is doing well with 2007 defensive player of the year George Selvie. Selvie is making strides. He has 2 sacks this year and 16 tackles. He will take over for James Hall when he retires and return to official BEAST status.  I think if Steve Spagnola can add a few more key components to this defense we will be a dominating unit. Chris Long, Craig Dahl, George Selvie, James Laurinaitis, Gary Gibson, and Bradley Fletcher are the building blocks of a dominating unit.

So to summarize what I’m saying. If Chris Long doesn’t get you, James Laurinaitis will. If James doesn’t get you, Craig Dahl will.
           
So that being said lets move on to offense. Bradford is still developing and is going to run off with Offensive rookie of the year. The rest of the offense is sadly lacking. As I said earlier we are missing a very mean guard to run block for us, but we are also without a number 1 receiver right now. I’m going to make a bold prediction here and say the Rams end up drafting talented wide out Julio Jones. If the Rams head office feels comfortable enough with their wide receivers we my pass. Remember folks when healthy we have:
                                   
Mark Clayton, who was doing very well before njury.
                                   
Danny Amendola, who is our nails tough slot guy.
                                   
Danario Alexander, 6’5, fast, and just all around awesome.
                                   
Donnie Avery, I still have no idea how he would fit into this rotation, but I’m sure our OC could find a spot for his speed.

Our offense needs to keep going. We fall to many times for 3 and outs when we have the lead. I think the Rams should activate Fendi Onobun. Yes Im calling again for our 6 ft 6 menace tight end. We obviously need a spark in this offense.

So our loss today was disappointing, but I can look at this and I know why we lost. No run game, bad corner play, and bad outside linebacker play.

So lets go Rams, next weeks lets get a win….it is a home game. And we are playing a good team. So I think we will play very well.

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1 November 2010

Rams Need to Regroup

2 Things defeated us on Sunday. And it wasn’t the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers aren’t any good. We should have dominated them The two things that were key in the down fall were this. HEAT and terrible offensive play.

Chris  Long played very well except for on the last play. Where he acted like a young in experienced player and stood still as Josh Freeman passed it to C Williams for the game winning touchdown. I’m sorry Chris but that’s unacceptable for a player who is paid 16 million this year.

Chris Long has turned his game up in the last couple weeks. Doubling his sack total and putting enormous pressure on the opposing Quarter Backs. Danario Alexander was quiet this week. Only catching 1 pass for 6 yards. Ilini Mike was a big target in his return. HE had 4 catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully he will be return to the list of Bradford’s favorite targets again.

I will say there is a pleasant surprise for the Rams this year. Oh what the heck lets be real. EVERYTHING is a surprise. IF the Rams had played every game as well as they played the Chargers we would be leading the league with a 6-1 record. Instead, we sit at 3-4. But we can still climb out of this to win more games.

The biggest surprise in my mind is this. Our secondary is playing very well. Four of our defensive backs have recorded interceptions and 4 of place in the 6 leading tacklers. They are far from perfect, but they are improving. The safety position is wearing thin right now though. O.J. and Dahl are healthy but Darien Stewart and James Butler are injured, prompting the Rams to sign free agent Michael Lewis. Lewis was drafted in 2002 by Philadelphia and worked with Spagnola, who was his positions coach. Lewis is built like a linebacker and has had 100 tackles in 6 of his 8 seasons. I would watch myself If I was an opposing wide receiver with Craig Dahl and Michael Lewis bringing the pain in the secondary.

The offensive line is doing well, as Sam Bradford is not being thrown to the turf every other play the way Marc Bulger was.

While the loss to Tampa was infuriating. The Rams look good in their match up verses Carolina.

The Rams pass rush should be able to rattle the nerves of whomever the Panthers start at QB. The Panthers have a very potent 1-2 punch at the running back spot with D. Williams and J. Stewart. If the Rams can stop these 2 backs, the passing game should pose little threat.

The Panthers defense can be very dangerous if it wants to be. Chris Gamble is a lock down corner. Jon Beason is an all pro linebacker. Beyond that there is not much teeth in the Carolina defense. The offense should do very well……….at least for the first half.

Which brings us to the biggest problems. THE RAMS WOULD BE 6-1 IF THE RAMS PLAYED GOOD FOOTBALL IN THE SECOND HALF. Once the Rams fix this. Watch out Seattle, we’re right behind you. 

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28 September 2010

Lets Not Panic

The Rams now sit at a respectable 2-3. Some will argue that the rams should be sitting at 4-1. But lets move on.

The Rams defense has been solid this year. Albeit not spectacular, but we have improved tremendously.

LB James Laurinitias is on pace for another 100+ tackle season and 12 forced fumbles.  Finally one of our 3rd round draft choices had paid off. Bradley Fletcher, lasts years 3rd round draft pick, leads the team with 2 interceptions and has been solid in run support. Larry Grant has become a contributor on defense.

With the emergence of these young players, comes a surge from veteran defensive linemen, specifically defensive tackle Fred Robbins and defensive end  James Hall. Fred Robbins and James Hall lead all defensive lineman with 12 and 15 tackles respectfully. Fred has one sack while James leads the team with 4 and is on pace for his first 16 sack season in his career.

I believe this is because the opponents are double teaming super talented DE Chris Long. Chris has 10 tackles and 0.5 sacks. It looks like he is on his way to another 40+ tackle season with 2-5 sacks. A talented defensive end, Chris Long is the focus of our opponents blocking schemes. This is the cause of his low stats. His back up, 7th round draft pick George Selvie, is second on the team with 1.5 sacks and 9 tackles. His stats are almost identical to Chris’ stats. They both are very fast and have motors that don’t stop. Selvie was a very highly regarded prospect if he had entered the NFL draft as a junior. He chose to stay at school. His production fell and he fell off may teams draft boards. The Rams picked him up in the seventh round of the draft and picked up a star. He is producing and I think he will claim the starting role from James Hall when James finally decides to retire.

While they (Rams) are not recording many sacks, we have not given up nearly as many sacks as last year. In Sundays loss we only allowed Sammy to be sacked once……..ONCE. Compared to when Bulgar was getting battered 6-8 times a game last year, this is perfect protection. Also, the running lanes were open for Jackson to total 114 yards on 25 carries averaging 4.6 yards a touch. The line is greatly improved from last year.

Last Sunday verses the Lions. The run defense was nails, limiting rookie sensation Jahvid Best to only 67 yards. The pass defense really fell apart. No Lions receiver recorded over 57 yards or 2 touchdowns. But Shaun Hill spread the ball around making our defense look like Swiss cheese. When we play the Chargers this weekend, we need to contain the Chargers running game, which has been suffering, and we should have a chance to win as the Chargers are missing Vincent Jackson.

The Rams have no lost their #1 receiver to knee ending surgery for the second time. The AMAZING, that’s right the AMAZING Mark Clayton was injured and will be having season ending surgery. He was leading the team with 23 catches and over 300 yards before the injury. He was finally living up to his former 1st round draft pick status. The Rams would be wise to resign him next. After Mark went down, Bradford didn’t even attempt to hide who his target was. He through at Danny Amendola at least 20 times. Danny caught 12 passes for 95 yards. The next highest person caught 3 passes, Brandon Gibson.

Laurent Robinson is returning to the lineup. Along with Ilini MIKE. The big tight end was synched with Bradford during the preseason. Now he’s back. Hopefully Bradford will now spread the ball around.

As far as special teams we have drastically fallen since last year. I think I can pinpoint our problems with the loss of 2 players.

1. Danny Amendola is not returning kicks. WR/KR Mardy Gilyard is not playing well, only averaging 20 yards a return.

2. Chris Chamberlane. Chris led the team in tackles on special teams. He is injured. Next thing you know the lions return a kick for 105 yards. Chris, get healthy soon.  Well that’s it. Good luck RAMS.

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28 September 2010

Rams Name Bradford the Starter

So this past week the Rams played very well against the Patriots. As a fan who has suffered from bad football for years now, it was good to see the Rams hand it to the patriots. Our two drafted tight ends Fendi Onobun and Illinois Mike combined for 3 touchdowns. Mike showed off his sure hands while Onobun displayed his athleticism. The loss of Donnie Avery for the year is a blow. But I think that Danny Amendola will step up to be a slot receiver that could be very capable and Mardy Gilyard has shown promise.

The Rams recently traded off rookie Hall Davis for an undisclosed draft pick from Washington. While we signed WR Danario Alexander.

I for one was thrilled to finally have Danario on the Team. While I am saddened slightly to see the loss of Brooks Foster. He has been picked up by the Jets. Danario will hopefully give us a tall option we can throw to on the outside and will be a solid  No.2 receiver.

Here is an idea. Why don’t we trade for Vernon Gholston. If fans were so eager to have him out of the draft, wouldn’t he be a nice addition now? Chris Long is one of the only pass rushers on this team. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the 2 best pass rushers of the 2008 draft on the same team? Vernon has been reduced to a backup behind veteran Shaun Ellis. For a player or a moderate draft pick, we might convince the Jets to trade him. He has had no sacks while in professional football.

Now I think Vernon has been ruined like many other players who have been played out of position. Bobby Carpenter was a first round draft pick who was qualified a “Bust”. He was playing in a 3-4 defense while he had previously played in a 4-3. He is now a starter for the Rams. I think if we put Vernon on the line at DE in a 4-3 he could return to his dominant college self. Too many players are thrown out and classified as busts when all that is up is that they are playing in a different system than what they are accustomed to.

Now I personally like Keith Toston and Kenneth Darby behind Jackson. I think they are decent backs. I still think you have to give a look to some of those free agent running backs out there. Justin Fargas is fast and has been a workhorse. Derrick Ward was coming off a big year in Hew York before he bombed in Tampa. I think he still has the talent we could use. Ladell Betts was released by the New Orleans Saints. Ladell has been known as a bruiser so I can understand if the Rams don’t pick him up but Fargas and Derrick are known as speedy backs. They could help us tremendously.

Well the Regular season is up. LETS GO RAMS! GO BRADFORD

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3 August 2010

Rams get QB Sam Bradford signed

So the draft picks are beginning to be signed. Others are holding out, but Sam Bradford is the $50 million dollar man.

It seems like most of the roster spots have a clear starting player. All the Linebackers are pretty well entrenched, Jackson will without a doubt start at running back. Chris Long and James Hall will start at defensive end with Fred Robins and Clifton Ryan starting at defensive tackle, with Chris Hovan getting plenty of playing time. Ron Bartell and O.J. Atogwe are going to start at corner and Safety respectfully.

There are some position battles going on during training camp. The corner spot opposite of Bartell is up for grabs. It seems that currently Bradley Fletcher is in the lead for the spot with Justin King close behind him. James Butler’s hold on strong safety is a bit shaky. Craig Dahl played well when given a chance and Kevin Payne was brought in during free-agency. If Butler starts to slip he might very well find himself on the bench.

The Rams may have a solid set of tight ends this year. Daniel Fells has proven to be a solid option. The two new drafted tight ends Hoomanawanui amd Fendi Onobun will probably make the team and contribute right away.

At kick returner the Rams have 2 amazing options.
Option 1: Danny Amendola. A very agile runner who was 16th in the league in average yards per return.
Option 2: Mardy Gilyard. A college standout. Mardy is a game breaker any time he gets the ball.

I think that after another wide receiver steps up into a starting role Donnie Avery will become a solid contributor in the slot. Laurent Robinson will be our number one receiver if he stays healthy. The other spot will be won by Mardy Gilyard. Mardy is just to talented to sit on the bench. Also, if the Rams decide to sign Danario Alexander the Rams would have a taller option. Alexander was a tremendous weapon when playing at Mizzou and would give the rams a playmaker which they sorely need.  As of  9 am Monday morning the Rams brought in Alexander for an interview. After T.O. was signed by Cincy (On where will it end) the Rams now are more closely focused on acquiring Danario. I for one am greatly looking forward to his 41 ½ vertical in jump catching balls for out team.

News out of Rams Park is that Roger Saffold, not Jason Smith, will be the starting left tackle come week 1. Rogers athleticism is said to be the reason that the Ram’s coaches are giving him an opportunity at LT.
The Rams are fortunate to have two athletic tackles that can hopefully protect our new $50 million dollar man.

The Rams still don’t have a runner who can share time with Jackson. Kenneth Darby and Keith Toston would probably be the best options behind Jackson. Hopefully the rams can find someone to take the load off of Steve’s broad shoulders once in a while.

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7 June 2010

Still a Lot of Work to Be Done

The Rams filled some holes with the draft but missed on others all together. We are still in need of another running back and a dominating defensive tackle to pair with Clifton Ryan. Signing 11 year veteran Hovan will fill a gap but at 32 years of age I don’t foresee a probowl performance.

As for Running backs. Jackson went into last season backed up by Kenneth Darby and Samkon Gado. The only reason Gado was on roster was he pulled a 72 yard touchdown run in the preseason. He never duplicated his success during the regular season. Kenneth Darby is a good change of pace back but is not spectacular. Antonio Pittman was a decent fill in, but no one is Steven Jackson.

With all the free agent running backs being signed, the Rams need to go for the best of the free agent pool, Brian Westbrook. Westbrook was a probowl running back. Now hes a bit worn down, but let Jackson handle the between the tackles running and you can have one speedy contributor. Westbrook still has the speed to be a great receiver out of the backfield. Jackson would also benefit from Westbrook’s presence. They would each have a chance to rest and may stay healthy for the whole season.

At wide receiver we have many young talented players. Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson are both you wide outs who will continue to improve. Robinson was on a good pace before injury early in the season took him out. With the addition of Mardy Gilyard and the emergence of Danny Amendola the Rams have many speedy wide receivers who are a threat to score when they have the ball in their hands.

Word on the street is that Justin King, a 3rd round draft pick from 2008, has finally emerged as a starting corner. He has taking reps with the first unit in place of Bradley Fletcher during camp. Will one of the Rams drafted corners actually turn out good? Hopefully. Aside from Ron Bartell the Rams secondary is not intimidating. O.J. Atogwe just signed a long term deal so we have 2 solid contributors to our defense hopefully some of our draft picks can step forward to help our team.

Hopefully the Rams can pick up a running back to complement Jackson. He can still carry the team, but a good backup is sorely needed on the Rams.

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7 June 2010

2010 NFL Draft Review

Well the Rams finally have it, the franchise Quarter Back of our future, in the form of Sam Bradford.
I was a Suh fan myself. I do not like the prospect of having to play the top defensive tackles of the draft.
We play the Lions. (Suh), We play the buccaneers. (Gerald McCoy and Brain Price). We play the Cardinals. (Dan Williams)
These players have a chance to show the Rams what a mistake they made by passing on them for Bradford.

At the closing of the seventh round the Rams did not look like winners on draft day.

They had drafted a quarterback, an offensive lineman, 2 cornerbacks, a wide receiver , 2 tight ends, 3 defensive ends, and a linebacker . I was outraged. We needed a LB, but after a nifty trade. That OT enabled us to draft a very talented former 1st round pick Linebacker. GENIUS! The Tight end Fendi Onobun, a freak of nature. He could develop into an amazing tight end. Now I still don’t understand 2 cornerbacks and 3! Yes 3 defensive ends. 2 is enough, we needed more linebackers.
 
Picks I liked.
I like Bradford. This pick was a need.

Roger Saffold: We needed a new tackle and we got one, then traded Baron for a linebacker. GENIUS He fit’s a need and will help protect Bradford.

Mardy Gilliard. This was an amazing pick in the 4th round. He gives the Rams another receiving threat to help Bradford. He is also an elite return man and he plays faster than his 40 time.

George Selvie. This had to be one of the biggest steals in the draft. A year ago Selvie would have been taken in the first or second round. This year, due to poor play, he fell to the Rams in the seventh round. His situation is a lot like a former ram. Leonard Little. I predict he will be the starter next to Chris long in no time at all.

Fendi Onobun: This guy is a freak of nature athlete, faster than Mardy Gilliard. He is tall. He played basketball for 4 years. He will be a great target for Bradford.

Picks on which I am indifferent.

Michael Hoomanawanui: He is a solid option as a starter while Fendi develops as the receiving threat. Solid pick. Not thrilling but solid.

Josh Hull: A LB who throws his body on the line for his team. He plays with passion, and he makes up for his lack of athleticism by throwing his body around. He is a solid pick up. I still think we should have drafted a linebacker sooner.

Picks I don’t like.
Eugene Sims: He is a strong guy, but why did we pick up another DE? The rams left the draft with 3 of them.

Hall Davis: He is an instinctive athlete. But doesn’t have much technique.

Jerome Murphy: While a talented corner. The rams have drafted way too many corners over the years.

Marquis Johnson: Talented, but again not a need pick.
So overall a so so draft. We’ll see how it pans out.

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26 February 2010

No Where To Go But Up

While the players may go home during the off season the coaches and front office are hard at work trying to improve the team.  Improving should be an easy task as there’s only one notch below 1-15.

The Rams will probably look at some of the teams that went from zero to hero in just on season. (Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals.) Each of these teams followed very similar blue prints. The Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons did not bring in some high priced superstar, they just got more production out of the players they had.

The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals built their teams around a strong defense and a devastating run game. In their playoff win over the Patriots, the Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco only completed 4 out of 10 passes for 34 yards but their running backs pilled up the yards on the once solid Patriot defense. Their defense smashed any drive that the Pats offense tried to put together. With that combination the  Ravens breezed by the Patriots.

Now lets count the Rams strongest players:

Running Back Steven Jackson: NFC leading rusher with 1,400 yards rushing and 322 yards receiving.

Middle Linebacker James Laurinaitis: Lead the team with 146 tackles. Most tackles made by any other rookie this year. He is always around the ball and plays with intensity.

Defensive End Chris Long: People may be calling Chris a bust for not having many sacks, but he lead the Rams in Quarterback hurries and improved on his solid totals from last year with 43 tackles and 5 Quarterback sacks.

When you look at the good players the Rams do have, it is easy to see that we are geared up to follow the course of having a strong running game and a pounding defense.

Steve Spagnola seems to be a good coach and he may have the Rams as the next comeback team in the NFL.

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8 January 2010

Time to Rebuild

Well we can all be thankful that the NFL season has finally come to a close. After turning out 106 yards of total offense in their last game versus the San Francisco 49ers, the 5th lowest total in NFL history, the Rams can finally close the book on a painful year.

We go into the off season with many big question marks.

1. Quarterback
Will Mark Bulger be back next year? This could be the year to pick a future Quarter back and groom him behind Bulger for one year. Bulger might have another year in him and he can start the beginning of the season. With the possibility of good Quarterbacks falling to the later rounds, the Rams could draft a franchise QB like Tony Pike from Cincinnati, Colt McCoy from Texas, or maybe even Tim Tebow from Florida. All these Quarterbacks have the potential to be a franchise player.

The Rams have the first round pick and in my opinion there are no QB prospects worthy of the first overall pick. If the Rams draft DT Ndamukong Suh, the fantastic defensive tackle out of Nebraska. Suh is 6’4 and 304lbs. and he is a dominating player who could help the Rams increase their sack totals. Adam Carriker was never comfortable playing DT. Drafting Suh would allow us to move Adam to his natural defensive end position. Having three first round draft picks on our defensive line would give us a young productive unit we could build upon.

2. Outside Linebacker
Trading Will Witherspoon  halfway through the season without a replacement was not a smart move. Paris Lenon was a stop gap measure but we need a solution. Drafting a talented player like Micah Johnson (6‘2 266lbs.)LB out of Kentucky would really improve our defense. David Vobora has earned a starting job and he may yet become a contributor to our defense. James Laurinaitas led the team in tackles with 146, far surpassing everyone else on the team.  Some supporter for “The Son of The Animal” should be a priority target in the draft.

3. Injuries
The Rams finished the season with 13 players on injured reserve. 3rd and 5th round selections Bradley Fletcher and Brooks Foster were placed on IR relatively early in the season, stunting their development. Marc Bulger was also placed on IR along with WR starter Laurent Robinson. All these injuries crippled the Rams. During their last game our last OG , Roger Allen III, was injured. Every guard that the Rams signed this season ended up injured. For the Rams to compete they first must stay healthy.

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2009 NFL Draft Review

Rams Draft Bolsters Defense

I have said this before - I think one of the most ridiculous things that sports writers do is to try and give teams grades for their draft. We will not know for a few years if the Rams or any team’s draft was a good one. I have seen Ram draft grades from C- to B- …… who cares? I love the writers who give a lower grade because there was a guy they liked better on the board – that makes no sense. There was one sports writer who gave the Rams choice of Jason Smith a B- because he said he like OT Eugene Monroe better (he was one of the few) and then gave the team who grabbed Monroe – the Jaguars a B for picking Monroe…huh?

It is obvious that the Rams 2009 draft was geared to fixing the defense and putting Coach Steve Spagnuolo’s blueprint on this team. Let’s look at these picks:

First round pick - Jason Smith, Offensive Tackle, Baylor – With Orlando Pace gone the Rams went with Jason Smith, who many regard as a franchise offensive tackle. This was not a surprise – he will start immediately and he will be a starter for many years. Smith has a no nonsense attitude and will bring additional toughness to the Rams offensive line.

After this pick, which was identified as the team's greatest need — the Rams moved toward addressing the defense on the next three picks– how can you argue with this as the Rams were torched repeatedly last year and need to get tougher on the defensive side if the ball.

Second-round pick LB James Laurinaitis of Ohio State figures to be the team's starting middle linebacker on opening day and despite what others say, this was a very good move for the Rams as they have not had a true middle linebacker since London Fletcher. The Rams probably would have taken WR Hakim Nicks here (taken by Giants) but I think in the long run they will be glad this was the pick. I believe Laurinaitis will bring leadership to the Rams – which is an intangible that he brings to the table.

Third-round pick CB Bradley Fletcher of Iowa has a chance to be the Rams' nickel back and could contend for a starting cornerback job. Fletcher, who was shooting up the boards prior to the draft is very different than the smaller, undersized type of cornerbacks the Rams have drafted in the past. Finally, the Rams are looking at cornerbacks with size knowing they have to chase down and bang heads with the likes of Arizona WR’s Antoin Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Fletcher is a  bigger, physical player who can play press coverage on wide receivers at the line of scrimmage while also providing strong run support. This was considered a controversial selection as many, including myself, expected the Rams to draft a receiver here.

Fourth-round selection DT Dorell Scott of Clemson immediately becomes the squad's third defensive tackle, and he will get a lot of playing time in the Rams defensive line rotation. The Rams need help stopping the run and Scott could have a huge impact here. Scott at 6-4 and 320 has great size and takes up a lot of room on the interior of the line – just what the Rams need.

In the fifth-round wide the Rams selected wide receiver Brooks Foster of North Carolina. Foster, who is considered an excellent athlete, provides size (6-1, 211), speed, strength and versatility. If he can stay on the field (he has had some injuries) he could be a sleeper pick for the Rams. The Rams needed to move up to get an impact receiver and they did not, this was the most glaring deficiency in this years draft.

In the sixth round the Rams drafted QB Keith Null, (6-3, 222) from West Texas A&M. Keith who? The Rams could have signed Null as a free agent so it is difficult to see why they made this pick. Are they looking for the next Kurt Warner? Null was a Division II quarterback in West Texas A&M's spread offense. Null leaves as the school's all-time leader in passing yards (9,769) and touchdown passes (92) after setting single-season records for passing yards (5,097) and touchdowns (48).  It will be interesting to see if Null will stick as the Rams third quarterback.

In the seventh-round the Rams drafted running back Chris Ogbonnaya of Texas, who played only one season with Texas. Ogbonnaya can run and catch the ball, as he is a converted receiver. Ogbonnaya could be an ideal third-down back because of his above average pass-catching ability, good size and above-average blocking skills. He is a project, but you never know.

Overall you can see some trends in the Rams Draft – Fix the Defense and get bigger and stronger on both sides of the line.

The Rams still have a lot of needs but the first two picks are high impact picks and will make the Rams better in 2009. The inability to draft an impact receiver hurts this years Rams draft, but their needs are many and they still may able to make some moves for a wide receiver. Again drafts take a few years to evaluate but the feeling here is that the Rams are moving in the right direction.

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30 April 2009

St. Louis Rams Post Draft Analysis

Round 1 (pick 2) – Jason Smith, OL, Baylor (6’5”, 309 lbs.)
Smith has the talent to have gone number 1.  Let tackles are the new “sexy” position the last several years and he was the best in class this year.  He is extremely athletic and has a mean streak that offensive linemen need.  With Orlando Pace no longer a Ram, this is a perfect replacement for a position that has been a bright spot for a long time.  Smith seems to have all the skill sets to become a ‘boom’ instead of a ‘bust’.

Round 2 (pick 35) – James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State (6’2”, 244 lbs.)
The defense needed a direction to go.  With head coach Steve Spagnuolo’s expertise on defensive schemes, he picks a guy that can run his complex defense for years to come.  With the defensive line becoming more and more dangerous each year, Laurinaitis will not only be a productive starter from day one, he also will allow Will Witherspoon to move back to his natural position of outside linebacker.

Round 3 (pick 66) – Bradley Fletcher, DB, Iowa (6’0”, 196 lbs.)
Although the Rams may have drafted him as a tall cornerback, I think he eventually finds his place at safety.  Man-coverage was never his strong suit, although he can play in space.  With his size and speed, look for him to produce as a dime back initially.

Round 4 (pick 103) – Dorrell Scott, DT, Clemson (6’3”, 312 lbs.)
With Spagnuolo’s fondness for building inside out, he gets a beast in Scott.  Scott has a lot of tools that could make him the anchor in the middle.  He is incredibly inconsistent, which is why he and the rest of his Tigers fell off the national radar.  With a head coach whom always gets the best from his defensive linemen, he has a shot to rotate heavily into the mix early and start in the near future.

Round 5 (pick 160) – Brooks Foster, WR, North Carolina (6’1”, 211 lbs.)
The Rams are replenishing their WR core slowly through the draft with no notable free agents coming in to replace legends Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.  He has some consistence issues and a bad knee that may slow his growth into a NFL ready receiver.  He has a lot of upside, especially for a 5th round pick, as he is extremely strong and could develop into a great back up or above average possession receiver.

Round 6 (pick 196) – Keith Null, QB, West Texas A&M (6’3”, 220 lbs.)
Although I thought they needed to address this position at a higher round, this was an interesting pick.  With incumbent Marc Bulger still able to produce, Null has a good chance to become a 3rd string and learn the nuances of playing quarterback in the NFL.  The competition he played was smaller and his numbers were inflated by playing in a spread offense.  Still, he has the size, leadership ability and awareness to compete and make the team.

Round 7 (pick 211) – Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Texas (6’0”, 222 lbs.)
Although Texas’ leading rusher was QB Colt McCoy, Ogbonnaya was a major contributor in the run and pass game, equally, and knows how to pass protect.  Although he is slower (4.65 40 yard dash time at the NFL Combine) he can be used in 3rd and short as the tailback because of his soft hands and size.

Overview:
The Rams seem to be building the right way the last few years.  After falling off the NFL Elite team radar some time ago, they have made small strides through the draft to add quality starters that do not have as high potential to become a bust. 

Still, they addressed some major needs and took some chances on ‘roster fillers’ in the late rounds.  The first 3 selections should see major time, which will help make this class a good one.  Smith and Laurinaitis should immediately become fixtures for years to come and if a late round pick ends up shining through that will only help the grade.  The Rams definitely are in the front running for best 1st Day selections.

By John L. Clarke

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