After back-to-back safety picks to start the second round, the Rams switched it up a little bit by picking a LB, though still a defensive player, one that fills a big need.
There had been plenty hoping that Laurinaitis was there in the second round for the Rams, and the trades in the first round helped make that possible.
In addition to OT and WR, LB is the biggest area of need for the Rams, particularly in the middle. Laurinaitis is tough, an All Big 10 Player who can stuff gaps as well as make plays on the ball. Maualuga offered some pass rushing ability, but the Rams don't necessarily need that given Witherspoon's move back to the outside.
The Rams front seven gave up rushing plays of 10 yards or more 24% of the time last year, ranked 29th in the league. One reason for that, one big reason, was the lack of a real middle LB (and a SS that had lost the ability to tackle and pursue very well). On top of the addition of SS James Butler, this pick should help the Rams run defense.
The Rams still have another need among their front seven on defense, a NT, a wide-body that demands double teams. That might be something they look for later with roster cuts and street free agents, finding a guy who plays in a rotation.
Another thought about the LB here. Spagnuolo and Flajole, Rams defensive coordinator, have had success with linebackers in the league (expect more on this in an upcoming post).
Though I'm sure there will be critics, the Rams did well in the first two rounds today, filling major needs up front on both sides of the ball, getting tough players with each pick. This is still a team with lots of needs to fill, too many to fill this in this draft, but each move today should help in 2009 and in the seasons beyond...provided the Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't fall apart after 2010.