Thursday, May 6, 2010
Follow-up: Why Rams didn't draft OLB
By Mike Sando
Brian asks via Twitter whether I would produce a chart showing 4-3 outside linebackers the Rams passed over in the 2010 NFL draft.
The request came in response to an earlier item about running backs the Rams passed over.
The Rams had too many needs to fill them all in this draft. They also took into account value.
As I sized up the 4-3 outside linebackers, I realized we would be working from a short list. So many of the linebackers drafted went to teams running primarily 3-4 schemes. Several of the 4-3 linebackers drafted projected to the middle, where the Rams are already set with James Laurinaitis. Some potential 4-3 outside linebackers -- take Larry Hart, drafted by the Jaguars in the fifth round -- can even project as 4-3 defensive ends now that they've been drafted.
For the sake of this analysis, I defined 4-3 linebackers as linebackers drafted by teams running 4-3 defenses (I included the Raiders in this group). Some of the 3-4 linebackers drafted probably could have projected to 4-3 schemes, but I wasn't going to make that determination. If a 3-4 team drafted a linebacker, the assumption was that the player might not have been an ideal candidate for the Rams.
The chart shows the Rams' actual picks next to the 4-3 outside linebackers drafted next. I have a hard time making a case for the Rams drafting most of the 4-3 outside linebackers available. Can you?
One exception might be the Rams' decision to draft a second tight end, Fendi Onobun, instead of William & Mary's Adrian Tracy, who landed with the Giants 14 picks later. Tracy played defensive end in college. The Giants are trying him out at strongside linebacker. Onobun, a converted basketball player, could project as even more of a project at tight end. The Rams did sign veteran linebacker Na'il Diggs in free agency, however.
The Rams did draft a linebacker. Josh Hull, a seventh-round choice from Penn State, projects as a special-teams player and potential backup to Laurinaitis in the middle.
The second chart shows the Rams' current linebackers.