As a few days have past, I think it is a good time to think about the Rams draft in a broad sense.
The Rams obviously had the first pick and turned it into the new face of their franchise in quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford will get paid more than all the rest of the draft picks combined and his success or failure will dwarf that of all the other draft picks successes and failures. Such is the nature of the #1 overall selection and such is the nature of the quarterback position in the NFL.
There are a lot of differing opinions on Sam Bradford’s viability in the NFL. But, this much is clear, he’s got great intangibles for a quarterback and he has NFL-quality accuracy. I also loved this note by Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in his daily blog:
After the Rams completed their draft, Bradford (back home in Oklahoma) called Rams Park to get the phone numbers for each player chosen by the team. Bradford wanted to call every Rams draft pick to welcome them to the team and and express his enthusiasm for work with them in rebuilding the franchise. That’s impressive. It shows that Bradford gets it; he’s a already trying to do what he can to create a “we’re in this together” attitude. Teammates are fired up when the QB reaches out like that.
The Rams also picked 11 other players over the weekend, so let’s take a look at what they bring to the table after the jump!
In my opinion, Rodger Saffold is a great pick for the Rams offensive line. He wasn’t a weapon in the literal sense, however, two things could happen. He could light a fire under Mr. Barron at left tackle and Barron plays solidly at left or right tackle and Saffold slides over to the hole at right guard. Additionally, if Saffold unseats Barron at either tackle spot, that gives Rams fans one less “groan-worthy” penalty a game. Barron was the 5th worst tackle in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, and was hurt mostly by his penalties.
Jerome Murphy is a perfect corner for Steve Spagnuolo’s press coverage defense. He joins last year’s 3rd round pick Bradley Fletcher in a competition to start alongside Ron Bartell. Since Fletcher is returning from injury, that was a good coverage selection for the Rams.
With their next pick the Rams selected spark plug wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. Mardy is one of those players who saves his best for game day and is a dynamic returner. He does not add a different size and shape look for the Rams at the wide receiver position, but he adds the after the catch dynamics that the Rams did not have in their WR corps before. Gilyard is a ball player and should be very successful in the Rams west coast offense.
I’ll group the rest of the defensive ends together: Hall Davis, Eugene Sims and George Selvie. Selvie certainly has the biggest profile of the 3, but the other two are the most toolsy and raw. Selvie’s stock dropped when he picked up some nagging injuries and was double and triple teamed by the opposition. George Selvie should have a CJ Ah You type impact in the preseason and early in the regular season as the Rams use him when he can be most successful.
The Rams also selected 2 tight ends in the draft, one a blocker and one a former basketball player who they will attempt to mold in the Antonio Gates role. Michael Hoomanawanui is a big blocking tight end that some Rams fans are familiar with from his time with Illinois. Fendi Onobun is the athletic tight end that really has me excited. His upside is as big, strong and fast as Antonio Gates. He will need time to learn some fundamentals of the NFL tight end position, but don’t be surprised if he comes out of nowhere to have a gigantic season in 2-3 years.
The Rams added Marquis Johnson out of Alabama, who played outside corner against the 2nd receivers for Alabama. He’s accomplished at breaking up passes as he was thrown at a lot as opposing offenses avoided first round pick Kareem Jackson. Considering the Rams were down to the bottom of the barrel in the secondary late in 2009, Johnson is a welcome addition.
With their last pick, the Rams drafted solid tackling linebacker Josh Hull. Hull is a linebacker from Linebacker U (Penn State), who should be a great special teams player and should have the ability to back up James Laurainits at MLB for years.
All in all, I’m optimistic about this draft. They have a lot of guys that fit into the Rams system and they spent 3 of their first 4 picks on the beleaguered offense. The two biggest pieces on the Rams offense are quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Steven Jackson. By investing more in the offensive line, they are protecting those valuable assets and I think that makes all the sense in the world. The Rams also added a bunch of quality depth and toolsy players to the defense which should give Coach Spagnuolo some “coaching up” to do in the rookie minicamps, OTAs and training camps.