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.

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