Thursday, April 28, 2011

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.

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