Draft Grades – 2012

Draft Grades: St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams are in full rebuilding mode, and I wholeheartedly approve of their strategy to trade back and accumulate picks. My feelings on how they spent those picks, however, is a different story.

Michael Brockers isn’t going to make the type of difference that most Rams fans were hoping for from their 1st-round pick when the season ended. But he has a ton of potential and the Rams have more than enough time on their hands to wait for him to develop. By the time they’re ready to compete, he should be reaching his full potential.

Far too many teams approach the 2nd round as though it’s an opportunity to gamble without much risk, when in reality there are usually legitimate difference makers and 1st-round talents still on the board. The Rams did exactly this on Day 2 of the draft.

Brian Quick was huge reach at No. 33. He has the potential to develop into a quality possession receiver, but the Rams really needed to bring in a receiver who could help out Sam Bradford immediately, and Quick is definitely not that guy.

Janoris Jenkins obviously has the talent to be a star, but a rebuilding franchise like St. Louis is not the place for a player with serious off-field concerns. I’m just not sure the Rams coaching staff, front office and veteran players are equipped to handle an off-field project like this.

Isaiah Pead will help take the load of Steven Jackson’s shoulders, but he was a reach in the 2nd round. I don’t see him as a potential franchise back, which the Rams could have found earlier in this draft. Pead is a capable backup, but won’t take the reigns from Jackson once he’s ready to hang up the cleats.

Taking Jenkins was a risk, but pairing him with another rookie corner, Trumain Johnson, who also has serious off-field concerns was just plain stupid. Two young players who couldn’t stay out of trouble in college, now collecting NFL paychecks is a recipe for disaster.

Chris Givens is a deep threat, but that’s about it. He’ll contribute, and they definitely needed another weapon, but there were better receivers on the board in the 4thr ound.

Rokevious Watkins is an intriguing prospect. He has the size and strength to be a dominant interior run blocker, and is actually a decent athlete for his size. He could be a steal in the 5th round.

Greg Zuerlein was the top kicker on my board and actually received a 5th round grade. One of the reasons I like him is the fact that he should immediately be one of the most effective players on kickoffs in the league. He has a huge leg and should routinely force opponents to start from their own 20.

Aaron Brown adds some much-needed depth at linebacker. I was surprised they didn’t address this position earlier than the 7th round, because Brown likely won’t give them the help, at least early on, that they really need.

Daryl Richardson has a legitimate shot to win the third-string running back job, but I have to wonder if the Rams may bring in another veteran. Starting the season with two rookies at the position isn’t ideal.

I have to give the Rams credit for trading back and accumulating picks, but I don’t think they added enough difference makers. The added depth will allow them to be more competitive in 2012, but they took too many risks and made too many reaches. Unfortunately, this probably wasn’t the franchise-altering draft that it had the potential to be.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Rams Comments Off

St. Louis Rams select Isaiah Pead, Grade D

The St. Louis Rams needed to add a running back to share the load with Steven Jackson, but Isaiah Pead was not the guy to target.

Pead was given a 2nd round grade by some, but I don’t think he has the skills to carry the load at the next level. He’s be a decent backup in St. Louis, but they should  have targeted someone with the potential to take over for Jackson in a year or two. Lamar Miller or Robert Turbin would have been better options.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rams Comments Off

St. Louis Rams select Janoris Jenkins, Grade C

The St. Louis Rams are gambling here, but I don’t completely hate the move. They have multiple picks in the 2nd round, so I can definitely understand why they were willing to gamble. However, a young team which is likely not going to be competitive for another year or two is generally not a good place for a guy with character concerns. Janoris Jenkins would have been better off in a place where he could be surrounded by veterans.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Rams Comments Off

St. Louis Rams select Brian Quick, Grade B-

Pretty cool to have Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt at the podium to introduce the St. Louis Rams next No. 1 receiver. However, this was too early for Brian Quick.

Sam Bradford needs someone who can come in and help him immediately, and the FCS receiver is too raw to make a significant impact early on. Unfortunately, this feels an awful lot like the when the Rams reached for Donnie Avery in the 2nd round in 2008. Quick will take time to develop, and probably isn’t the security blanket that Bradford needs. They would have been better off selecting a guy like Stephen Hill who, while he is also raw, could at least make an impact as a deep threat early on.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Rams Comments Off

St. Louis Rams select Michael Brockers, Grade B

This is a solid pick for the St. Louis Rams, but sort of disappointing. They really needed to add a playmaker on offense, so they better hope someone falls to them with the 33rd pick.

Michael Brockers has a ton of potential, but he’s a developmental prospect. He will probably play a minor role early in his career as they work with him to develop him into a more well-rounded lineman.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Rams 1 Comment

Draft Needs: St. Louis Rams

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the St. Louis Rams [full archive here].

Season Recap: The St. Louis Rams once again found themselves among the leagues worst teams when the season ended. They finished with a 2-14 and earned the number two overall pick in the upcoming draft. The Rams were able to trade the pick to the Washington Redskins, who made the move up to acquire Robert Griffin III. Through the trade, the Rams received the six overall pick, an additional second rounder, and two future 1st round picks. With new coach Jeff Fisher in control and numerous high draft picks, the future looks a lot brighter for the St. Louis Rams.

Team Needs:
1. Wide Receiver: St. Louis spent the number one overall pick on Sam Bradford two seasons ago, but fans have not gotten to see what he is fully capable of due to the fact that he’s had nobody to throw to. As of now, the two starters are Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. The Rams moved back from pick 2 to 6 and will have the opportunity to select the top receiver in the draft. The consensus number one wide out is Justin Blackmon, but I think Jeff Fisher selects Michael Floyd- knowing the impact a big bodied WR can make, much like Kenny Britt (a WR he selected in round one with the Titans).

2. Defensive Tackle: The Rams have two solid defensive ends in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but not much of a presence at the tackle position. Kendall Langford was signed and can start at one spot, but there is still a weakness next to him. Fletcher Cox has been linked to the Rams in many mock drafts and would be a good addition to the defense. Brandon Thompson, Jerel Worthy, and Devon Still are options in round two.

3. Cornerback: Jeff Fisher brought over former Titan Cortland Finnegan, which is a great signing and will vastly improve the defense. The Rams still need another starter opposite him. Most likely, the problem will be solved in the second round. Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, and Brandon Boykin are possibilities.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2012, Rams Comments Off

Rams targeting Matt Kalil?

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the St. Louis Rams are interested in trading up for the 4th pick in the draft.

The obvious assumption is that the team is targeting Justin Blackmon, and is worried that either the Browns or Bucs (or someone else trading up) will land him before the 6th pick.

But what if the Rams have other plans?

Matt Kalil

Is Kalil the Rams real target?

The Browns are unlikely to draft Blackmon – it just doesn’t fit with the track record of GM Tom Heckert and President Mike Holmgren. And the Bucs almost certainly have Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson ahead of Blackmon on their board. So what could be motivating the Rams to move up?

Perhaps their target is actually Matt Kalil, and this proposed trade is contingent on the Vikings passing on the future franchise left tackle.

While adding a playmaker for Sam Bradford is certainly a priority, so is keeping Bradford on his feet. Rodger Saffold is better suited to play right tackle, and Jason Smith may be better off playing guard (or simply a backup role at this point). Kalil would certainly change the dynamic of the Rams offensive line, and the extra time provided to Bradford could open things up in the passing game.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Rams Comments Off

Rams should learn from Broncos mistakes

The St. Louis Rams have received a nice little package of draft picks from the Washington Redskins. And while it certainly looks like a great trade, rookie GM Les Snead’s work is far from done.

While the trade certainly looks like an easy win for the Rams, they still have make the right selections with the picks they acquire – and a lot can still go wrong.

Just ask the Denver Broncos.

In 2009, the Broncos traded Jay Cutler to the Bears for a very similar package. But here’s what they ended up with: Kyle Orton, Robert Ayers, Richard Quinn, Demaryius Thomas.

That’s not exactly a crew to build around.

The Rams need to be smart with their picks and recognize that they still have holes all over the field. The Broncos tried to get cute, gambling on one-year wonder Robert Ayers and then using a pick they acquired from the Bears to trade up for Quinn, a blocking tight end. Even Demaryius Thomas, who is beginning to blossom into a quality starter, was a very risky selection for a team with so many holes.

To avoid similar mistakes, the Rams should use these picks wisely and play it safe. There’s no need to reach for a specific area of need, and there’s no need to trade up to land someone they covet. Instead, Snead should stay put and let the draft board come to him. Add talent – at any position – and the rebuilding process will slowly work itself out.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Rams, Redskins Comments Off

Why Browns don’t need to trade both 1st round picks to move up for Griffin

The general consensus is that the Cleveland Browns will ultimately win the bidding war for Robert Griffin III due to the fact that they own two 1st round picks, and therefore can offer more than the Redskins or Dolphins. However, the Browns should be able to win the Griffin sweepstakes without parting with the 22nd pick.

For starters, the Browns also own the 37th pick, two spots higher than the Redskins 2nd-round pick. If the Redskins offer their 1st and 2nd round selections, the Browns can out-bid them simply by matching the offer.

On top of that, the Rams may not be interested in dropping all the way to No. 6. By sliding to No. 4, the Redskins are still guaranteed to get either Matt Kalil or Justin Blackmon –  most likely the top two prospects on their draft board. Any GM would be thrilled to land one of their two favorite prospects at No. 4 and pick up an additional second-round pick in the process. So whatever the Redskins offer to sweeten the pot beyond the Browns 1st and 2nd round picks may not be worth it to St. Louis.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns, Rams, Redskins 1 Comment

Rams Offseason Priority: Get Bradford Some Weapons

The St. Louis Rams have holes all over the place, but one area of concern stands out above the rest: wide receiver.

The midseason acquisition of Brandon Lloyd was a futile attempt to turn the league’s worst receiving corps into something that Sam Bradford could work with. And while Floyd was an upgrade over Mike Sims-Walker, he made little noticeable impact and is now set to become a free agent (and more than likely will take the first chance to sign elsewhere).

That leaves the Rams with Brandon Gibson, Greg Salas (who has excellent hands and should be use more), Austin Pettis and Danario Alexander – not exactly a crew Bradford can get excited about.

So what can the Rams realistically do to improve this group?

Obviously they’ll try to spend some money in free agency, but it can be tough to attract any meaningful veterans to a 2-14 team with a struggling third-year quarterback.

In reality, the Rams will be forced to address this need in the draft, and it could start in the 1st round. Most assume that Justin Blackmon will be high on the Rams wish list, and he is definitely an option. However, Kendall Wright may actually be the better fit for new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offensive scheme.

While Wright is smaller than Blackmon, he is far superior in his ability to stretch the field, a key component in the Schottenheimer scheme. One of the reason’s Schottenheimer’s offense struggled in New York was due to his inability to find the right quarterback-receiver combo to stretch the field – something which he will likely be hoping to develop early in his tenure in St. Louis.

 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Rams 1 Comment