- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams lack depth, but only one of their rookie draft choices -- defensive end Chris Long -- appears likely to earn a starting job entering the regular season. That was a risk the Rams took when they drafted a developmental receiver, Donnie Avery, early in the second round. We take a pick-by-pick look at the Rams' 2008 draft class:
(1) Long, DE, Virginia. Long will learn on the job as the Rams' starting right defensive end. He made no tackles and no discernable impact during the Rams' exhibition opener against Tennessee, but he wasn't alone in that regard. Long is diligent, talented and sure to improve. He is not likely to hit double digits in sacks as a pure pass rusher might.
(2) Avery, WR, Houston. A hip injury kept Avery off the field until this week and he remains somewhat limited in practice. He was already facing a significant adjustment from the offense he ran at the University of Houston. The Rams would like him to emerge as a deep threat, but his development will take time.
(3) John Greco, OL, Toledo. The Rams haven't done a very good job developing mid-round offensive linemen, but Greco might help them improve that way. Coaches have moved him between tackle and guard. Greco enters the season as a backup, but the Rams remain somewhat unsettled on their offensive line.
(4) Justin King, CB, Penn St. King was looking like the Rams' third cornerback, but a toe injury ended those plans abruptly. The Rams are expected to place King on injured reserve, ending his season. Toe injuries can be tricky. His long-term prognosis is unclear.
(4) Keenan Burton, WR, Kentucky. Burton made an immediate positive impression in camp. Avery's absence helped him in the short term. The Rams still do not have a clear-cut No. 3 receiver now that Drew Bennett has replaced Isaac Bruce in the starting lineup. Will Burton emerge? Dante Hall is playing the role now. Reche Caldwell has not stepped up. The Rams threw three passes Burton's way in the second half of the exhibition opener. None were complete. Burton has also had problems with injuries.
(5) Roy Schuening, G, Oregon St. Schuening hasn't been afraid to mix it up. He took down Titans defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch during a practice scuffle, and he recovered a fumble during the exhibition opener. Schuening is also fighting for a roster spot. Immediate contributions appear unlikely.
(7) Chris Chamberlain, LB, Tulsa. Chamberlain was one of the Rams' more impressive players on defense during the exhibition opener. That isn't saying much -- the Rams allowed 340 yards rushing as the Titans exposed their poor depth -- but Chamberlain did impress. He made one tackle for no gain and another 19 yards downfield. Depth at linebacker is a concern for the Rams, so Chamberlain needs to be ready.
(7) David Vobora, LB, Idaho. "Mr. Irrelevant" figures into the team's plans in part because the Rams lack depth at the position, but he struggled against the Titans in the opener. Barring injuries, Vobora should spend most of his time on special teams.
The Rams are better than they showed against the Titans, but their poor depth will cause problems as the season progresses. Their defensive backups had no chance against the Titans, who played some starters longer and dominated.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando AP Photo/Jeff Roberson Chris Long appears likely to earn a starting job entering the regular season. The Rams lack depth, but only one of their rookie draft choices -- defensive end Chris Long -- appears likely to earn a starting job entering the regular season.