Saturday, April 30, 2011

Quick Analysis of Kendricks: The Rams Made a Great Pick

Check out this short analysis of the Rams' 2nd round draft pick Lance Kendricks (TE Wisconsin). It was a surprising pick, but the Rams got themselves a special player. Check it out.

Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Rams Select Austin Pettis of Boise St.

The Rams surprised everyone last round by taking Lance Kendricks, as tight-end was not considered a major need, but they definitely addressed a need by selecting Boise St. wide-receiver Austin Pettis.
Pettis (6’3” 209 pounds), was a four year player for the Boise St. Broncos, and he was a three year starter. He racked up 951 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns in 2010. His put up 2,838 yards and 39 touchdowns during his NCAA career.

The Rams were desperate for a receiver going into the draft, and they’ve now invested 2nd and 3rd round picks in an attempt to find a pass catcher. Kendricks is a tight-end, but Pettis will attempt to solidify the team’s most dire need- wide-receiver.

Pettis will not waltz into Rams Park and become the number one receiver that the Rams are hoping for. His speed and ability to gain separation has been questioned; but he has size, toughness, as well as solid hands. He also has the ability to make big plays.

Fans shouldn’t view him as the team’s new primary receiver, as that is just not likely to happen. He is an attempt to improve the depth of the unit. If he can be the teams No.4 receiver, while having the ability to fill in for the No.2 receiver in the event of an injury, then he will improve the team’s wide-receiver, just not as much as a bona fide top receiver would. 

Lance Kendrick: In-Depth Analysis of the Pick

Here is a more in-depth analysis of the Lance Kendricks pick...

Rams' Second Round Pick is In: Lance Kendricks TE Wisconsin

The Rams started thing off last night by drafting DE Robert Quinn out of North Carolina 14th overall. But yesterday is history, and now the Rams just announced their first pick of the night. They drafted Lance Kendricks with the in the 2nd round with the 47th overall pick.

Kendricks (6’3” 243 pounds) is a three year player out of Wisconsin. He recorded five touchdowns with 663 yards last season for the Badgers, and he picked up 1,160 yards and eight touchdowns during his NCAA career in Wisconsin.

It was yet another surprising pick. No mock drafts or analysts considered him an option for St. Louis. Many fans have been excited for the development of Mike Hoomanawanui (drafted in the 5th round last year), but he was injured for the majority of his rookie season. This is likely the result of the Rams taking the best player available in their eyes, regardless of position; and the team was probably not crazy about Hoomanawanui’s injuries last season, so they probably want some depth at the position.

The Rams needed some offensive play makers for Sam Bradford, and Kendricks will certainly help them throw the ball downfield, which is something they struggled with greatly last season. He doesn’t have the size to be a top notch blocking tight end, so he will likely be utilized primarily as a receiver. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day Two Options For the Rams

The first round was loaded with surprises, such as Jake Locker getting selected over Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder getting picked 11th overall by the Minnesota Vikings, and of course, Robert Quinn falling the the Rams at 
No. 14.

But the first day is a wrap. Members of the 'War Room' will go home and get some sleep (though probably not much), and then the fun starts again tomorrow evening with rounds two and three. 
So who are some appealing options for the Rams tomorrow?

-Mikel LeShoure RB Illinois: LeShoure is considered to be the second best running back in the entire draft class behind only Mark Ingram. It is probably a long shot that he'll be available when the Rams pick at No.47, but as we were reminded tonight, anything can happen on draft day. It would also be nice if the Rams could permanently end their quest for a back-up running back for Steven Jackson.

-Greg Little WR North Carolina: General Manager Billy Devaney is not a fan of drafting players with character concerns, but in my opinion Greg Little is the last receiver available in the draft with potential to be a No.1 receiver on an NFL team.

-Aaron Williams CB Texas: The Rams need help in the secondary after losing safety O.J. Atogwe. Williams would almost certainly be the best player available at No.47, and he would help solidify a St. Louis secondary that ranked 19th last season in average passing yards given up per game.

-Brandon Harris CB Miami: Just like with Williams, Harris can help to improve the Rams' defensive backfield. Harris is just as talented as Williams, but he as an even better chance at being available at No.14.

-Torrey Smith WR Maryland: In my opinion, Torry Smith will only make it as a solid No.2 receiver in the NFL. However, Devaney is a sucker for players that show a solid work ethic. Smith is a dedicated player, and his willingness to work hard might eventually prove me wrong.

-Marvin Austin DT North Carolina: Members of the Rams' front office were spotted talking to Austin during Senior Bowl week, so there is likely some interest. It would also be neat to see Austin reunited with his teammate Robert Quinn in St. Louis. They both have bright futures, and this pick could give the Rams a solid defensive line for the next ten years.

-Rahim Moore S UCLA: This year's draft is a weak year for safeties, so for what it's worth Rahim Moore is probably the best safety of the draft class. Given the extreme lack of talent that the Rams currently have at the position, Moore would probably be the starter by opening day.

-Stefen Wisniewski OG Penn St.: Wisniewski would make a solid replacement at right guard for Adam Goldberg, who greatly struggled last season. Wisniewski would immediately be a starter of the Rams' offensive line, and he would help open up the middle lanes for Steven Jackson.

-John Moffitt OG Wisconsin: If the Rams don't want to invest a 2nd round pick on a guard, then Moffitt could possibly be a different option in the 3rd round. Moffitt might require a little more polishing that Wisniewski, but he should eventually fit in nicely at right guard

The St. Louis Rams select: Robert Quinn North Carolina

The pick has been made, and the speculations as well as the mock drafts are both a thing of the past. The Rams made it official by selecting star defensive end Robert Quinn No. 14 overall.

Quinn (6’4” 265 pounds) was a two year player for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He recorded 11 sacks and 35 solo tackles in 2009, and 2 sacks with 22 solo tackles in 2008.
Quinn did not play in 2010, as he was among a handful of Tar Heel players suspended for the season by the NCAA for illegal interactions with agents. Quinn might have been considered the best defensive lineman of the entire draft class had he played in 2010.  

He is a great fit for the Rams, as Chris Long has the left-defensive end spot nailed down, but the team has still been looking for a long term right-defensive end. The right end faces the quarterback’s blindside, so they are typically athletic freaks that can spin move and bull rush their way to the quarterback. According to scouting reports, Quinn will be able to do that very well. 

Rams Miss Out On Jones

Rams miss out on WR Julio Jones, and will have to wait to solve their wide receiver problem. Read more...

Rams Draft Bits: A Few Last Minute Thoughts

How Will Radio City Respond to the "Commish"?

Being the the Commissioner of the NFL is a very prestigious gig in the world of sports; but being the face of the league in this day and age comes with a downside. As we all know, the owners and players are squabbling over how to split the billions of dollars in revenue amongst each other, and since Commissioner Roger Goodell is the face that represents the league, that means he's the guy representing the work stoppage. He's not the primary culprit, but taking heat for problems with the league is unfortunately part of his job.

Neither the players, owners or the executives of the NFL have been put in front of a stage of fan since the start of the lockout, so tonight's draft will give the fans their first chance to express their displeasure on a personal face-to-face level.

The draft will take place at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, and New York is not exactly known for their mild manor fans. It is almost a guarantee that Goodell will be enthusiastically "boo'd" as he steps up the the podium to declare the draft "open", and this writer predicts that he will hear hate from the fans every time he steps on stage, for all 32 picks in the first round.

Cutting Atogwe Was a Mistake

The Rams were already entering the current off-season with plenty of needs to fulfill on both sides of the ball. So when they decided to play contract games with safety O.J. Atogwe, which led to him signing a five year contract with the Redskins, it created a major hole.

I realize that Atogwe would've been overpaid. But who cares how much other teams are paying their safeties? The Rams should worry about their own situation. What else do they need the money for? All of those free agents available? Oh, wait...

Now there are no starting caliber safeties on the team. They will likely use a draft pick on one, a draft pick that could've gone towards filling another need. But hey, at least Stan Kroenke saved a buck!

I'm predicting that the Rams will avoid investing an early pick towards a safety. Look for them to take a late round project, such as Jeron Johnson (Boise State) or Deunta Williams (North Carolina).

Doubling The Odds

Last year we witnessed the Rams perform a unique strategy. Throughout the later rounds they picked multiple players at the same position, hoping that it would increase their chances of finding a starter at the position. They executed that strategy with both tight end and defensive end.

They drafted tight end Mike Hoomanawanui in the 5th round, as well as Fendi Onobun in the 6th round. And for defensive end, they grabbed Hall Davis in the 5th, Eugene Sims in the 6th, and George Selvie in the 7th.

Hoomanawanui will likely be the Rams top tight end next season, assuming he can stay healthy, and Selvie will likely be a regular contributor on defense. Sims also has a shot at getting significant playing time.

So will they deploy that same strategy this year? If so, at what positions?

Some possible options are offensive guard, running back, safety, as well as outside linebacker.

Late Round Options

Roy Helu RB Nebraska: The Rams have been trying to draft a back-up running back to Steven Jackson for several years now, and every year they seem to forget about it. If they are in a situation where a running back isn't an option in the first four rounds, then they might decide to take a chance on a late round running back.
Helu has size and speed, but does not excel at any aspect of the game, and he has struggled with fumbles his entire college career.

Jeron Johson S Boise State: Safety is now a major need for the Rams. This year's draft is not a particularly strong year for safeties, so they might avoid picking one early on. However, they might decide to invest a late round pick on a developmental project.

Johnson has good speed, and will be able to keep up with receivers, but he is undersized and is lacking the natural athletic ability that it takes to succeed in the NFL.

Tim Barnes C Missouri: The Rams have very little interior offensive line depth. There is a chance that they will look for a starting guard early on (Stefen Wisniewski, John Moffitt), but even if they do take a guard early on, they still could draft another one later on to develop their depth at the position.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

7x32 The Official Rams/NFL Mock Draft

Check out the my official Rams/NFL Mock Draft. It outlines my picks for the Rams in every rounds, and it also contains my mock of all 32 picks of the first round. Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lockout Lifted: Back to the Chalkboard for Bradford and McDaniels

The Rams' players can finally have a glance at McDaniels' playbook.
Rams Nation can unleash a collective sigh of relief as Judge Nelson sided with the NFL players, and the the lockout has been lifted... for now.  
This doesn't mean that a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) has been done, and this is certainly not a permanent solution to anything, as the owners will be filing an appeal to Judge Susan Richard Nelson's decision. But what this does mean is that players and coaches can talk again. 
The Rams were especially hurting from the lockout. Their former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was offered a head coaching gig by the Cleveland Browns, so the Rams signed former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to fill the void. 
The players already knew that they would have a new playbook to learn, but the real concern was giving Sam Bradford a brand new offense for the second consecutive year. That is never an easy thing to do for a young quarterback, so the fact that he couldn't even talk to his coaches made fans very uneasy.
Hopefully the players on the Rams' offense will get to look over some of the basics of the playbook within the next week or two, because no one knows when that right could be revoked during this crazy off-season. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NFL Announces 2011 Schedule For the Rams

The 2011 opponents were announced for the Rams a while ago, so the strength of the schedule is no surprise. They play both 2010 Super Bowl teams (Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers). They also open the season with a gruesome three game stretch against the Philadelphia Eagles (Home), the New York Giants (Away) on Monday Night Football and the Baltimore Ravens (Home), in that order.

But the team should not be too discouraged, as they play in the NFC West, the weakest division in the NFL, which makes for six very winnable games on the schedule. They also get the pleasure of playing the Washington Redskins (Home) and the Cincinnati Bengals (Home); as well as the the mediocre but very underrated Cleveland Browns, and the mediocre but very overrated Dallas Cowboys.

Sunday, Sept. 11 – vs. Philadelphia – 1 p.m. – FOX
Monday, Sept. 19 – at New York Giants – 8:30 p.m. – ESPN
Sunday, Sept. 25 – vs. Baltimore – 4:05 p.m. – CBS
Sunday, Oct. 2 – vs. Washington – 1 p.m.  – FOX
Sunday, Oct. 9 – BYE
Sunday, Oct. 16 – at Green Bay – 1 p.m.  – FOX
Sunday, Oct. 23 – at Dallas – 4:15 p.m. – FOX
Sunday, Oct. 30 – vs. New Orleans – 1 p.m.  – FOX
Sunday, Nov. 6 – at Arizona – 4:15 p.m. – FOX
Sunday, Nov. 13 – at Cleveland – 1 p.m. – FOX
Sunday, Nov. 20 – vs. Seattle – 4:05 p.m. – FOX
Sunday, Nov. 27 – vs. Arizona – 1 p.m. – FOX
Sunday, Dec. 4 – at San Francisco – 4:15 p.m. – FOX
Monday, Dec. 12 – at Seattle – 8:30 p.m. – ESPN
Sunday, Dec. 18 – vs. Cincinnati – 1 p.m.  – CBS
Saturday, Dec. 24 – at Pittsburgh – Noon – FOX
Sunday, Jan. 1 – vs. San Francisco – Noon – FOX

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Franklin Blows Fourth Save As Card Lose 2-1

The St. Louis Cardinals' impressive hot streak on offense came to an erupt stop as the team entered a pitching battle today against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Chris Carpenter started the game for the Red Birds, facing off against the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley. Carpenter gave up zero runs in his seven innings, and Billingsley responded with eight scoreless innings of his own.

The only person that hit well at all for the Cardinals today was outfielder Matt Holliday. Holliday got three of the team's four hits against the Dodgers, including a 9th inning double against closer Jonathan Broxton. Third baseman David Freese got the team's fourth hit following Holliday's double. It was a blooper into shallow right field that scored Holliday, making the score 1-0.

Mitchell Boggs entered the game for Carpenter to handle the 8th inning. Boggs had a great appearance, as he faced three batters up and three down.

Most were probably hoping to see Boggs finish the game after the Cardinals took the lead in the 9th inning. However, manager Tony LaRussa sent in Trevor Miller to face Andre Ethier, who was the first batter of the 9th. Ethier answered back with a lead off double into right field.

LaRussa then brought in Ryan Franklin to take over. It was a nail biting moment for fans, who were right to be nervous, as Matt Kemp ended the game with a two run walk-off home run.

It was a questionable move to begin with, as Franklin has appeared in only one inning in nine days. But what was even more concerning was that Franklin has blown three out of his four save opportunities before today.

Now, LaRussa is going to have to think long and hard about the facts at hand. In six appearances Franklin has blown four out of his five save opportunities, has given up three home runs, has an 0-2 record and is sitting with a 9.64 ERA.

At some point, the team has to realize that Franklin is not the closer that he was in the past. Mitchell Boggs and Eduardo Sanchez are both very appealing options for the job. The team can not continue to lose close games due to blown saves. If the season comes down to a close division race, then these missed opportunities could mean everything.

Cardinal Fans Practicing Cautious Optimism

 After the disappointing headlines that fans endured during the off-season regarding Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright, and the woeful 2-6 start to the 2011 season, most fans were probably beginning to assume that they were about to witness 2010 version 2.0.

However, the team's current West Coast road trip has injected the fan base with a large dose of hope.

Berkman has two multiple home run games and six total home runs in the past week. Pujols seems to have snapped out of his cold streak. He hit two homers during Friday night's game against the Dodgers, and three total on the road trip; his recent hot streak has increased his average from less than .150 to a respectable .289.

The rest of the team has been doing their share as well.

David Freese has been on a tear, raising his average to .370. Colby Rasmus has had a hit in every game of the road trip, including two home runs. And Yadier Molina had a four hit night against the Dodgers on Friday.

The Cardinal's offense had potential that they never lived up to in 2010, so the team still has that potential, we just never thought it would emerge based on the poor 2010 performance, combined with the pitiful start to 2011.

Still, it has to be cautious optimism. The depth behind the current batting line-up is paper thin, so one or two injuries to key guys could ruin the team.

Also, the starting pitchers have done a remarkable job stepping up and filling the void left by Wainwright. So it's uncertain whether or not an aging veteran like Chris Carpenter can be effective all season, or if a young player like Jaime Garcia can stay consistent.

The season is very young, and it will likely be a roller coaster ride, but fans have to be thrilled to see the elevated moods in the dugout, as well as the elevated offensive production.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rams Have a Wide Range Of Round Two Options

 The Rams' top pick in 2010 was pretty much set in stone before the pick even occurred. The sheer terror of defensive tackle Ndamekong Suh made it an interesting debate amongst fans, but the team desperately needed a quarterback and Sam Bradford was the best quarterback prospect to come out since Carson Palmer in 2003, so it was a bit obvious.

This year, however, the team does not have the luxury of fate (as well as common sense) to make the decision for them in regards to their top pick.

If A.J. Green or Julio Jones slips to them at No. 14 overall then they will have that luxury, but that's not likely to happen. The likely scenario has the team flipping a coin on an assortment of defensive linemen, which could include Aldon Smith, Ryan Kerrigan, Corey Liuget, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn and D'Quan Bowers. It also wouldn't be too outrageous to throw Mark Ingram, Prince Amukamara and Mike Pouncey in the mix.

The only debate amongst fans that has any substance is whether or not to trade up for a receiver, because it is just too hard to predict which players will be available. And the second round is even more of a crap shoot.

It will certainly depend on who they grab in the first round, but the Rams have a variety of needs at different positions. We can conclude, based of General Manager Billy Devaney's previous second round picks, that it will not be a flashy pick, but it will be very solid and it will cover a position of need.

Let's look at the key positions that the team needs help at, and look at the second round options available for those positions.

Defensive Line: There is a 90% chance that the Rams will get a defensive lineman in round one, but given the defensive line depth in this draft, they might decide to grab another guy in round two and solidify the trenches for the next five to ten years. Here are some options...

Stephen Paea DT Oregon St. 
Paea has a wide body that will occupy blockers, and he is skilled at stopping the run. However, he seems to struggle as a pass rusher. If Paea ends up as a Ram, fans can expect him to take some pressure off of Chris Long, but Paea will not likely turn into a player that accumulates gaudy statistics.

Marvin Austin DT North Carolina
Austin missed the entire 2010 season after the NCAA decided to suspend him, as well as a hand full of his Tar Heel teammates. He has also had his work ethic and attitude come into question by coaches and scouts. The Rams typically avoid questionable characters, but they were reportedly interviewing Austin around the time of the Senior Bowl. If the Rams do pull the trigger on Austin, then they are possibly getting the best defensive tackle in the entire draft.

Running Back - The Rams have been looking for a suitable back-up to Steven Jackson for years now, and they have failed miserably. Look for them to try and correct this mistake once and for all during the 2011 draft.

Mikel LeShoure RB Illinois
Just like Jackson, LeShoure is a power runner, so he's not the "lightening in a bottle" home run threat that the fans have been wanting at the position. But he is the second best running back in the draft and he will be able to contribute immediately. It doesn't really matter what type of runner the Rams get, as long as Jackson gets some rest and stays fresh for all four quarters.

Ryan Williams RB Virginia Tech
Williams' 2009 season was on par with Mark Ingram's numbers that same year, the year that Ingram took home the Heisman. Williams ran for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns that season, but he was plagued with injuries in 2010 (though he still scored nine touchdowns in only 110 carries). He lost some stock due to his injury, but the talent is still there.

Defensive Back - Bradley Fletcher and Ron Bartell are good enough to survive with at cornerback, however, the departure of O.J. Atogwe has left a gapping hole at safety. Bartell has some experience playing safety if the team decides to add another corner, but they need help in the secondary in some way or form.

Rahim Moore S UCLA
Moore isn't the biggest or baddest safety in the draft. If the Rams want a hard hitting safety, then Moore might not be the right guy for them. But if the team wants a hard working player with great instincts and solid coverage skills, then Moore might be a nice fit.

Ras I-Dowling CB Virginia
At 6'2" and over 200 pounds, I-Dowling is the big and physical type of corner that Steve Spagnuolo likes. He will help the team with run support, as he is a sure tackler. He has suitable coverage skills, but he lacks elite speeds, which may result in him getting burned by NFL receivers.

Offensive Guard - The Rams are extremely weak at offensive guard. Jacob Bell is probably playing at an acceptable level, but his play is not worth raving about. And at right guard, Adam Goldberg is just brutal. A long term replacement for Goldberg could be the final piece to the offensive line puzzle.

Stefen Wisniewski OG Penn State
Wisniewski has the athleticism to drop back into an effective pass blocking stance. He also has the strength and grit required to plow to road as a run blocker. There is a reason why he is considered the second best interior offensive lineman in the draft, and he would be a potential day one starter for the Rams.

Benjamin Ijalana OG Villanova
If someone were to debate my comment above, stating that Wisniewski is the second best interior lineman in the draft, it would be because of Ijalana. Ijalana may struggle immediately as a pass blocker, but he has all the skills to become a solid starter in the NFL, despite the fact that he did not face a lot of elite talent at Villanova.

Wide Receiver - The second round does not really offer the Rams anything that they don't already have at the position, unless they want to take a shot at Jon Baldwin, but the Rams avoid sketchy characters, so here are the other options...

Leonard Hanerson WR Miami
Hankerson has decent size, but he's not exactly a red zone giant. Other that that he has average speed, average leaping abilities and average play making abilities. But three of the receiver the Rams will be depending on in 2011 have questionable knees (Mark Clayton, Donnie Avery, Danario Alexander), and the overall talent to the unit is lacking, so the team would likely be able to fit Hankerson in somewhere.

Torrey Smith WR Maryland
Smith has decent size, and he is a very hard worker. His play lacks any major "wow" factor and he has small hands, but he was still able to put up eye-popping numbers at Maryland in 2010 (1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns). He would certainly be a nice consolation prize for missing out on Julio Jones, but he would be a reach at No. 14 overall, and he will likely be gone before the Rams pick in the second round.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why Trading Up for a Wide Receiver Would Be Worth It for the Rams

Historically, it has only been wise to trade if your team is one, or two pieces away from being competitive.

Although no one in their right mind would advocate that the Rams are one wide receiver away from going to the Super Bowl, it would be fair to say that Rams are one primary receiver away from snatching the NFC West crown. And as far as winning playoff games? Well, Seattle won one this past season, so anything can happen if the Rams win the division in 2011.

Sam Bradford had a great rookie season, and no one is taking that away from him. However,the Rams (or Bradford) attempted passes for 15 yards or more only 13.0 % of the time in 2010.

Within that 13.0 %, Bradford was only able to complete 23.5 % of those passes, which is worse than any rookie quarterback since 2008, and he only had a quarterback rating of 43.1 when throwing for more that 15 yards (which was the second worst rating amongst rookie quarterbacks since 2008, behind only Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions).

Given Bradford's success in most other aspects, it is hard to put the blame on him. Part of it was due to the West Coast offense the team ran, which put an emphasis on short routes by the receivers. But the real reason was a flat out lack of talent at the wide receiver position.

Although the team's lack of a primary target was clear in every game, and contributed to every loss of the season in some way, one needs to look no further that the Seattle game at the end of the season to find proof of the unit's inferiority.

The receivers were visibly struggling to stay on their routes after the first five yards, and any receiver that broke free was smothered by the secondary. There was no receiver physical enough to force his way free, just as there was no receiver fast enough to break free.

It's not that the Rams have no talent at the position whatsoever, it's just that the current receivers will not reach their potential until the team gets a real threat as a primary receiver. Here is what a bona fide No. 1 target could do for the St. Louis offense...

1) Danny Amendola

Amendola is flat out tough in every sense of the word, and he is dangerous in the slot, but when opposing teams double team him, he struggles. A top receiver would take away that double coverage, and it would allow Amendola to be the Wes Welker style first down machine that Rams fans know he can be.

2) Danario Alexander

Given his injury history and some slight inconsistencies, Alexander is not a proven commodity, and he certainly is not a candidate for being the top receiver until he proves he can stay on the field. But what we do know is that he is good for the occasional long ball, with an emphasis on the word "occasional". A true No. 1 receiver on the roster would make those long bombs to Alexander occur more frequently.

3) Steven Jackson
Jackson is still the primary threat on the Rams' offense. Although, with Bradford at quarterback, opposing teams are more skeptical when it comes to stacking eight men in the box to stop Jackson, but they still have the luxury of narrowing in on him. A primary receiver would relieve some of this pressure and help open up the run game.

4) Mike Hoomanawanui and the Tight Ends

Mike Hoomanawanui (or 'Big Mike'), was certainly something special as a rookie, especially as a fifth round draft pick. He was injured for most of the 2010 season, but when healthy, he showed that he can be a solid receiver out of the tight end position. A primary receiver would have opposing defensive backs watching the deep ball, which would help Big Mike and the other tight ends get open on their intermediate routes.

5) Sam Bradford

This is the obvious person that would benefit from a true No. 1 receiver. After the Rams drafted Bradford with their top pick in 2010, they immediately drafted left tackle Rodger Saffold in the second round to help protect him. Now that Bradford has some adequate protection, the team needs to provide their $50 million investment with a real weapon at receiver, or else a lot of money and potential will be wasted.

With the current rumors that suggest the Dallas Cowboys may be willing to trade their No. 9 overall pick, it could provide the Rams with the perfect opportunity to jump ahead of the Washington Redskins (picking No. 10 overall), and steal either A.J. Green or Julio Jones away from them.

Since the move would only be five spots (from No. 14), it would still be pricey, as it's a top 10 pick, but it wouldn't be as bad as, say, moving into the top 5. It likely would not have to cost the team a 2nd round pick, and it would even be possible for the Rams to keep their top picks, with the primary compensation being a 2012 draft pick.

Would it be worth it? Well, that depends on your personal opinion of Jones and Green. But, hypothetically, if those guys are the players that scouts think they can be, then look no further than the Seattle game film, and you'll probably see that it is well worth it. 

Garcia Makes Doubters Blush, But The Team Makes The Faithful Gush

Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia shined in his 2011 debut, but the rest of the team is struggling.
Following a horrendous spring training, in which Jamie Garcia gave up 37 hits and 15 earned runs in his final 17 innings, many questioned whether or not Garcia would be able to build on top of his impressive rookie campaign, where he accumulated 14 wins.

But Garcia took to mound against the San Diego Padres on April 3rd for his first start of the 2011 season, and he struck out nine batters in nine innings. It was an undeniably impressive effort by Garcia to start the season, and it earned him his first win of 2011, as the Cardinals beat the Padres 2-0. It was a quick reminder to us that spring training is not always a telltale sign for things to come.

However, it was not just his first win. It was the team's first win. Their only win of the season, actually, which begs the question- Are the baseball gods taking shots at the Cardinals early on?

The Albert Pujols contract dispute was bound to haunt the team all season. It would not be surprising if the situation is mentioned by the commentators at least once every single game; and the players will obviously say that it has no effect on them, but how could it not?

Luckily, Pujols is the type of player to put that aside and focus on business. Although, he has not been getting down to business so far, as he is batting with a .125 average. He does have a home run though, although it came during the Cardinals' 11-3 loss to the Padres on Saturday, April 2nd.

Then there is Adam Wainwright. His Tommy John's surgery will keep him out of action for the entire 2011 season, and it may even affect his performance in 2012.

With Garcia's impressive performance the other night, there may be some that believe he can fill the void left by Wainwright. But the "half glass empty" kind of fans might look at Garcia's success as even more reason to be disappointed with Wainwright's injury, as they may find themselves thinking of what could've been with Chris Carpenter, Wainwright and Garcia all in the line-up.

Then there is the disaster in the middle infield. Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker are playing terrible defensively. There has to be some agreements amongst the front office that the middle infield needs to be addressed at some point, especially since the team has a pitching philosophy that tries to get the hitter to make contact, which forces ground balls. That philosophy probably doesn't do a lot of good when the middle infield can't field ground balls. 

If only the front office had as much faith in Ryan Ludwick as they do in Skip Schumaker, and the failed attempt to make a second baseman out of him, then the Cardinals' might at least be decent shape at the plate.

Then there is Matt Holliday. Holliday played in the first game of the season, and he even hit a home run. But he has been absent from every other game, as he was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy (Come on, really? The gods hate the 2011 Cardinals that much?). But if Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel's situation has any correlation, then Holiday should be back before Cardinal fans know it.

Not an ideal start to the 2011 season for the Red Birds, but it wasn't exactly an ideal off-season and spring training either, so what did anyone expect?