NFC West: Claude Terrell

On the Rams' outlook along offensive line

November, 10, 2011
The St. Louis Rams head into the second half of their schedule with Tony Wragge at center and Adam Goldberg at right tackle.

The team did not plan for journeyman backups to emerge as starters, but the switch to Wragge from Jason Brown was voluntary. The switch to Goldberg from Jason Smith was related to injury, but after two-plus games with Goldberg, are the Rams worse off? Tough to say.

Offensive line was one area where the Rams invested heavily through the draft and free agency. They have relatively little to show for their investments, a concern as the team tries to build around quarterback Sam Bradford.

Heading into Week 10, however, the picture looks like this:
  • Left tackle Rodger Saffold is struggling with consistency. He's had lingering back problems and suffered a lower-leg injury at Green Bay. Whether those injuries are affecting his play, Saffold hasn't taken the next step after a promising rookie season.
  • Left guard Jacob Bell was released before the season and brought back on a reduced contract, an indication the team no longer valued him as it once did. Bell has played pretty well, however.
  • Brown, the starter at center since signing a big free-agent contract in 2009, does not play with the surly demeanor the Rams have been seeking along their line. He hasn't played consistently well this season. The change from Brown to Wragge suggests Brown will not be back next season under his current deal, and probably not at all.
  • Harvey Dahl remains the starter at right guard. The team signed him because it wanted a bigger, stronger guard with toughness and attitude. Dahl better fits the McDaniels mold for guards. He seems to be functioning as anticipated.
  • Goldberg is starting at right tackle while Smith recovers from head/neck injuries suffered at Dallas. The team signed Dahl to replace Goldberg at right guard. Goldberg isn't a power player and doesn't project as a long-term starter. He's a versatile backup, though.

The Rams thought they had overcome a 2005 draft that brought them Alex Barron, Richie Incognito and Claude Terrell. At best, however, they are set for next season at left tackle and right guard, unless Smith returns and improbably justifies his first-round salary.

The San Francisco 49ers have gone for quality over quantity in trying to build a big, powerful offensive line.

The team has drafted seven offensive linemen since 2005, one below the NFL average. But the 49ers selected a league-high three of the seven in the first round and a league-high five of them in the first two rounds.

That jumped out right away when sizing up NFC West offensive linemen from the 2005-2010 draft classes for the latest "adventures in drafting" installment.

The Arizona Cardinals have taken a different approach, using a division-low one first-round selection for the offensive line since 2005. Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee, Dallas, Minnesota and the New York Giants have selected no first-round offensive linemen during that span.

The charts break out NFC West selections by general draft position, with a column showing how many starts each has made for his original team. I am using the term "not active" loosely to describe players who haven't been on rosters during the regular season recently.

Italics reveal what teams might have been thinking as they entered various stages of the draft.

We should find 10-year starters with Pro Bowl potential, most often at tackle ...

Every offensive lineman selected among the top 50 or so choices should contribute and hopefully start ...

The most athletic prospects are gone by now, but tough guys still have value ...

These guys have question marks, obvious limitations or both, but we'll still get some starts from them ...

Anyone seen the Seahawks or 49ers lately?

What are our numbers on the line again? Let's get another one here.

Thoughts go from Claude Terrell to victim

February, 18, 2011
The St. Louis Rams could not have known they were selecting an alleged monster when they sought to upgrade their offensive line in the 2005 NFL draft.

News reports describing Claude Terrell's departure from the Rams in 2007 suggested the guard might be troubled. The leap from troubled to the allegations outlined Thursday -- aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and burglary -- render as misplaced any analysis about what went wrong in the personnel evaluation process. That part is old news, anyway. The Rams have new leadership and they've done better in the draft.

When the Rams released Terrell, teammate Steven Jackson expressed concern.

"We just hope everything works out for him," Jackson said then.

Let's amend that statement in light of recent events. Let's just hope the best for his alleged victim, and for society.

2005 re-draft gives 49ers you know who

January, 25, 2011
A few thoughts on Mel Kiper's 2005 NFL re-draft, covering the first round and available to Insider subscribers:

1. San Francisco 49ers

Actual pick: Alex Smith, QB, Utah

Kiper re-draft pick: Aaron Rodgers

My thoughts: The question, of course, is to what extent Rodgers would have transcended the bad luck and dysfunction that framed Smith's career with the 49ers. Rodgers benefited from having a few years to learn the pro game before taking over for Brett Favre. Rodgers walked into a far more talented offense than the one that helped drag down Smith early in his career. The disparity between Smith and Rodgers has to do with more than circumstances, however. Rodgers has been better across the board. I think his personality would have helped him fare better than Smith has fared. Matt Cassel, the second quarterback selected in Kiper's re-draft, lacks the physical skills Rodgers possesses. I think he might have become another Smith if the 49ers had selected him. The 49ers would have been just fine selecting DeMarcus Ware, the second player chosen in Kiper's re-draft.

8. Arizona Cardinals

Actual pick: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami

Kiper re-draft pick: Jay Ratliff, NT, Auburn.

My thoughts: Rolle converted to safety and earned Pro Bowl recognition before leaving Arizona in free agency. He wasn't good enough over the course of his time with the Cardinals to justify the early choice, however. Ratliff would have upgraded the Cardinals' defense. Arizona wouldn't have leaned so heavily on veteran nose tackle Bryan Robinson, who has played too many snaps. I might have sent Frank Gore to the Cardinals on a re-draft, however (Gore went 17th in Kiper's version). Taking away Gore from the 49ers and sending him to Arizona would have headed off the Edgerrin James signing while weakening a division rival. Having Gore and Kurt Warner in the same backfield would have upgraded an offense that already had outstanding weapons in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

19. St. Louis Rams

Actual pick: Alex Barron, T, Florida St.

Kiper re-draft pick: Logan Mankins, G, Fresno St.

My thoughts: Mankins would have provided needed toughness and leadership. Barron's tenure became a yellow blur thanks to all the penalties he incurred. Darren Sproles was available in Kiper's re-draft and he would have given the Rams an scary one-two punch at running back, but building along the offensive line would have made more sense. Mankins became a Pro Bowl guard. The Rams wound up selecting guards Richie Incognito and Claude Terrell in this draft. Incognito lacked self-control and flamed out of St. Louis. Off-field issues drove Terrell out of the league. Selecting Mankins early would have averted the mistake on Barron while sending the team in another direction in the later rounds.

26. Seattle Seahawks

Actual pick: Chris Spencer, C, Mississippi

Kiper re-draft pick: Barrett Ruud, LB, Nebraska

My thoughts: The Seahawks got more immediate help at linebacker by selecting Lofa Tatupu in the second round and Leroy Hill in the third. Seattle would not have reached the Super Bowl following the 2005 season without Tatupu bringing together the defense, in my view. Ruud did not start as a rookie. Tatupu went 15th overall to Kansas City in Kiper's re-draft. Some of the other players I would have sent to Seattle in the 26th spot were also gone in the re-draft. Given how Super Bowl XL turned out, the Seahawks could have used another safety. The team liked safety-turned-linebacker Thomas Davis that year. Nick Collins and Oshiomogho Atogwe were gone on a re-draft.
2005 NFL Draft Round Players on Active Rosters Total Players Percent on Active Rosters
27 32 84.4%
25 32 78.1%
26 37 70.3%
23 35 65.7%
14 38 36.8%
18 40 45.0%
16 41 39.0%
Totals 149 255 58.4%

Posted by's Mike Sando

The quadriceps injury threatening Chris Spencer's future with the Seahawks sent me back through his 2005 draft class.

The first six players NFC West teams selected that year have not met expectations: quarterback Alex Smith (49ers), cornerback-turned-safety Antrel Rolle (Cardinals), tackle Alex Barron (Rams), Spencer, guard David Baas (49ers) and running back J.J. Arrington (Cardinals).

The next four players NFC West players selected -- Lofa Tatupu (Seahawks), Ron Bartell (Rams), Frank Gore (49ers) and Oshiomogho Atogwe (Rams) -- have either achieved Pro Bowl status or become front-line starters.

The Seahawks, Rams and 49ers each have four members of their 2005 draft classes on their active rosters. The Cardinals have two.

Even with Spencer out, the Seahawks arguably had the best 2005 draft of any team in the division, landing Tatupu, Leroy Hill, Ray Willis and Spencer.

The Rams found four current starters in Barron, Bartell, Atogwe and third-rounder Richie Incognito.

The 49ers found Gore and right tackle Adam Snyder, while Baas and Smith could wind up starting this season.

The Cardinals have only Rolle and backup guard Elton Brown to show for that 2005 class.

Tatupu and Gore are the only Pro Bowl players from the 2005 NFC West draft class.

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