Funny, after all the hoopla about the second overall pick and who the Rams would take there, the Rams second round pick, Donnie Avery, dominates the draft conversation today.
I guess that shouldn't really be a surprise. Avery's name wasn't atop anyone's list of the so-called top wide receiver prospects, despite being the speediest of them all. Avery had a rough combine, running his 40 in the 4.4 range with a pulled hamstring; it's usually in the 4.2 range. He improved that time at his pro day, which started to boost his draft stock, just not in enough time to crack the pundits' top five lists.
None of the receivers in this draft were sure things, making the pre-draft rankings essentially useless. That became obvious when no receivers were taken in the first round at all. Avery had the measurables, all other questions aside, that the guys considered to be at the top of the WR class didn't have. The Rams got a guy the best WR available that fits their needs. Here's what the Football Outsiders team had to say about WRs in the draft:
As mentioned in the post from this morning, Avery also had an immeasurable quality that the Rams sought in all their picks for the 2008 draft: his work ethic, determination and character. Not even the pundits missed that about Donnie Avery.
Avery and Isaac Bruce have more than just speed in common. Check out who Avery compared himself to in a pre-draft chat with fans at ESPN:
How can you not like this guy? He's not just some entitled athlete used to a gilded throne; the kid wants to play football and spent hours reviewing video ahead of his last season at the University of Houston ahead of his breakout senior season. Read the chat transcript and I think you'll get a pretty good idea of why the Rams coaching staff fell hard for Donnie Avery.
Another note about what Avery can do on the field for the Rams. The Rams lacked a deep threat last season. Obviously, much of that had to do with the trouble on the o-line, but still the Rams had no receptions for 40 yards or more. Avery gives them that threat. Avery will shine on routes down the field, where Bennett draws coverage in the middle and Holt draw the other d-backs. As he develops his NFL chops - and he will to be sure - Saunders will bring him into more and more plays.
Be sure to check out this blog from a U. Houston fan. Donnie Avery's a favorite there, and I think he could well become a fan favorite here with time.