St. Louis Rams: Bobby Wagner

Morning Ram-blings: A trade missed

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
8:00
AM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In the two NFL drafts since general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher have handled the reins for the St. Louis Rams, they've proved adept at manipulating the selection process with timely trades. They've moved up and down the draft board with equal aplomb, more often than not coming out for the better on the other end.

Time will tell if all of those moves will be winners and it's much too soon to declare any picks either a success or a bust. Early returns indicate the biggest trade of the 2012 NFL draft in which the Rams dealt the No. 2 pick to Washington is going to pay big dividends. But almost two seasons later, there's one deal the Rams made that already looks to be heavily tilted against them.

With the Rams heading to Seattle for Sunday's season finale, this would seem a good time to look back at the trade the Rams made that hasn't worked out. After the Rams traded with Washington, they moved back again from No. 6 to No. 14 in a trade with Dallas. St. Louis received the Cowboys' second-round pick, No. 45 overall, to make that move.

When the Rams came on the clock for the third time in the second round and with defensive tackle Michael Brockers, receiver Brian Quick and cornerback Janoris Jenkins already in tow, they decided to recoup the fifth-round pick they'd given up in a 2011 deal with Denver to get receiver Brandon Lloyd.

In need of a linebacker, the Rams had hosted Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks as part of their 30 pre-draft visits. Both were on the board when the Rams came up at No. 45. Instead of making the pick, the Rams dealt it to Chicago to move down to No. 50 and get back that fifth-round selection.

Before the Rams could make their pick, Philadelphia grabbed Kendricks at No. 46 and Seattle followed by nabbing Wagner at No. 47. Just like that, two possible targets at a position of need were off the board. Making matters worse, Chicago used the pick obtained from St. Louis to draft emerging star wideout Alshon Jeffery. Not that the Rams had expressed much interest in Jeffery or that they were certain to take one of the linebackers, but the move has been a miss for them so far.

At No. 50, the Rams ended up drafting running back Isaiah Pead, who contributes on special teams but otherwise hasn't done much worthy of a second-round pick and used the fifth-round selection on guard Rokevious Watkins. Watkins has already been released and is currently with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Wagner will start at middle linebacker for Seattle on Sunday and has already emerged as one of the league's best young linebackers. The Rams have since added rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree, giving them a rising star at the position as well.

It'd be unfair to expect any regime to have a perfect track record when it comes to the draft but it's understandable if Rams fans watch Wagner on Sunday and wonder what could have been.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Friday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we talked about the difficulty rookie receivers have adjusting to the NFL. ... In Double Coverage, Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and I discussed Sunday's season finale in Seattle. ... The Rams aren't taking any extra steps to prepare for CenturyLink Field's noise this week but it could be a factor in this one. ... In Friday's injury update, we discussed the return to practice of receiver Tavon Austin on a limited basis and the possibility he could play Sunday. ... We looked at the performance of quarterback Kellen Clemens and what he's meant to the team in the bigger picture than just statistics. ... Finally, it was time for the Pro Bowl announcements with deserving nods for Rams end Robert Quinn and punter Johnny Hekker.

Elsewhere:

Eddie Matz of ESPN the Magazine has a piece on the Seahawks' ongoing efforts to keep the read-option in play.

The NFL Live crew has its predictions for Sunday's matchup.

At stltoday.com, columnists Bryan Burwell and Bernie Miklasz discuss Sunday's game.

Jim Thomas has a preview of what could be awaiting defensive end Robert Quinn as award season nears.

Joe Lyons offered this feature on Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

 

 

#NFLRank: A full NFC West accounting

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
1:40
PM ET
Fifteen San Francisco 49ers and 13 Seattle Seahawks helped the NFC West account for a disproportionate number of players listed in the #NFLRank project from ESPN.

Sixty-three voters helped rank 100 top players on each side of the ball. NFC West teams accounted for 20 players on defense and 16 on offense. The 36-player total works out to 18 percent representation for the NFC West, above the 12.5 percent expectation for any division.

The chart shows where NFC West players ranked on each list. I shaded offensive players in gray to better distinguish the rankings.

The 49ers' Patrick Willis and the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald have long been perceived as the best players in the division. They've got additional competition, but those two ranked higher than anyone else in the NFC West.

There were sure to be oversights in a project of this scope. Defensive end Calais Campbell of the Cardinals stands out to me as the most glaring one. I might have placed him between Patrick Peterson and Chris Long in defensive rankings as they stood for this project.

Three Seahawks cornerbacks earned spots on the list even though one of them, Antoine Winfield, reportedly could be released by the team Saturday in the reduction to 53 players Saturday.

A quick look at ranked players by team:

San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Willis (3), Aldon Smith (10), Justin Smith (11), Vernon Davis (18), NaVorro Bowman (18), Joe Staley (25), Mike Iupati (32), Frank Gore (37), Colin Kaepernick (42), Ahmad Brooks (56), Anthony Davis (60), Donte Whitner (64), Michael Crabtree (78), Anquan Boldin (83) and Jonathan Goodwin (92).

Seattle Seahawks: Richard Sherman (8), Earl Thomas (17), Percy Harvin (26), Marshawn Lynch (27), Brandon Browner (46), Russell Wilson (47), Russell Okung (49), Kam Chancellor (49), Max Unger (57), Bobby Wagner (67), Winfield (70), Cliff Avril (74) and Chris Clemons (85).

St. Louis Rams: Long (40), James Laurinaitis (57), Jake Long (61), Cortland Finnegan (63).

Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald (7), Patrick Peterson (19), Daryl Washington (59) and Darnell Dockett (79).

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