Wrapping up the Rams 2009 draft

The draft is over for the Rams, seven rounds, seven picks. They addressed some needs with good players at high picks, and took a few raw prospects to finish it out. We'll spend more time parsing the results down the road, by days and years. My biggest takeaway is that they strengthened both the offensive and the defensive lines, a big need. 

The high picks, though not necessarily exciting and leaving some room for debate, filled huge holes on the Rams starting roster with players that are widely expected to be instant contributors and grow into core veterans.

The first three rounds went like this, with comment:

R1, #2 - OT Jason Smith: There's some grumbling about this one, with fans divided between OT, Curry and Sanchez. Ultimately, though, given the glaring weakness that the Rams line has been and a key cog available at this spot, that grades out at that spot (in this draft), this pick made sense. Smith and Jason Brown will be the leaders of this young unit, holding their fellow linemen accountable for their play and giving their best on every down, on that there doesn't seem to be much room for argument. Smith might have to start on the right side, a la Jordan Gross in Carolina, to hone his trade, but he could just as easily top Barron for the LT job. 

R2, #35 - MLB James Launinaitis: Maualuga had his fans with this pick, but the Rams went with the three-time (or two?) All American from Ohio State, and now have a guy who can instantly contribute, filling gaps, flowing to the ball and making their run defense better. He's also good in coverage, which will help the backfield. 

R3, #66 - CB Bradley Fletcher: This pick turned some heads. I was kind of hoping for D.J. Moore here, but the new direction of the Rams defense calls for physical, aggressive corners...a good quality to have in a division featuring some big receivers. The story from inside the war room is that the Rams think Fletcher is ahead of where Justin King was when they drafted him last year, and King was one of camp's surprises until a toe injury sent him to IR for the year. Could we see him at nickel some this year? With his skills, he's an interesting player for blitz packages too.

R4, #103 - DT Dorell Scott: Besides a MLB, the Rams defense needed a big body tackle to play at the nose position. At 312 lbs, Scott can still add 10-15 lbs, which will help him tie-up double blockers. This is something the front four needs, badly, and it allows Carriker (who really needs to have a good season) to line up over a single guard and moves Clifton Ryan out of the NT position and back to an UT role. Scott dropped on draft boards with a slow start to his senior season, but the entire Clemson team struggled, resulting in a coaching change that brought out the player who really shined in his second and third seasons. This is a position that they didn't need to draft early on, and Scott should be able to be part of the rotation at DT right away.  I like this pick, and along with Laurinaitis, it really should solidify the front seven. 

And here's where a theme develops...the Rams start taking some raw prospects that need a little bit of refining to be a complete player. That's what you want in these rounds, where you can't count on getting ready-made starters to fill needs. 

R5, #160 - WR Brooks Foster: What the Rams really need at WR is a true #1, a dynamic playmaker. Those guys were gone by the time their second round pick rolled around (I think they needed a MLB more). Foster's a fine pick for the 5th round, where you're getting guys that you hope can develop, at least to provide depth. Foster is physical and joins the ranks of the Rams possession receivers, like Burton, Robinson, Stanley, etc. Like I said before, I think they'll still need to add an experienced WR before the season, and weight their options in free agency and the draft next year to get the kind of #1 guy they need.

R6, #196 - QB Keith Null: A little more perplexing... Why? Did the Rams really need a QB this bad? I know they're not looking for a starter in the 6th round, but they might have been able to get this guy off the street. He played under Ryan Leaf, but at least with a 6th round pick he won't achieve Leaf's notoriety. I think they got a third QB who fits their West Coast system, fits better than Berlin, probably. He's a good passer, except deep. His upside is a competent backup in an offensive system like this.  

R7, #211 - RB Chris Ogbonnaya: Giving bloggers and fans a name they'll struggle with each time they try to spell it, the Rams took a RB who has skills as a runner and receiver. He just never got to show them much in Texas' offense...except against Missouri. He could be a bit better than Kenneth Darby and a make Brian Leonard expendable at some point. Change of pace back. This is a good pick for the seventh round.

So, that's the draft, solid if a little unspectacular. They solidified their offensive and defensive lines with legitimate players, and I like that. I maybe would have liked to see another LB in the later rounds...like maybe the 6th, but I don't have too many quibbles with it now. 

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