Saturday, April 30, 2011
What about the Rams? Five thoughts here
By Mike Sando
The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals drew most of the attention in the formatted NFC West draft analysis that posted recently. Five thoughts on the St. Louis Rams:
- First-rounder Robert Quinn should help put NFC West tackles on notice. Quinn, James Hall and Chris Long give the Rams' opponents three tough matchups in pass protection. Quinn and Hall will line up against highly drafted NFC West left tackles. Arizona has Levi Brown, the fifth overall choice in 2007. Seattle has Russell Okung, the sixth choice in 2010. San Francisco has Joe Staley, the 28th player chosen in 2007. Expect high-profile matchups over the next few years, particularly with Aldon Smith joining the 49ers.
- The Rams went another year without landing a change-of-pace option to complement Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson. Teams drafted seven running backs in the second and third rounds, but the Rams went in other directions. New coordinator Josh McDaniels added two receivers and a movement tight end across the second, third and fourth rounds. It'll be interesting to watch his offense come together.
- Taking a movement tight end in the second round shows the Rams are serious about arming McDaniels with the specific parts he wants for his offense. They expect Lance Kendricks to create matchup problems while providing the offense with options. General manager Billy Devaney: "Receivers don’t have to be the ones all the time stretching a defense. I think Josh used a great term during our meetings about stressing a defense. Not stretching it, but putting stress on a defense, and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do, just with adding players that are multi-dimensional. You can use (Kendricks) in a variety of ways and he’s going to cause matchup problems for defenses."
- Receivers Austin Pettis (third round) and Greg Salas (fourth round) aren't burners. That means the Rams did not add a high-profile speed receiver in this draft. They'll get Donnie Avery back from injury. Devaney wasn't interested in adding track stars.
- The Rams went into this draft needing an outside linebacker. They didn't draft a prototypical one early, but they did pick up two players with an eye toward diversifying various defensive packages. Fifth-rounder Jermale Hines projects more as a safety than linebacker, although he can play both depending on the situation. Seventh-rounder Jabara Williams is a weak-side linebacker. Both are around 220 pounds. If one or both sticks, coach Steve Spagnuolo should have specific plans for them.
Overall, this was more of an under-the-radar draft for the Rams. Quinn was a higher-risk pick than the Rams have generally made in recent seasons. His pass-rush potential was too much for them to overlook.