The St. Louis Rams came into the 2010 NFL Draft with plenty of needs to fill and just not enough picks to fill every hole in the roster. Reaction to the Rams' draft results from pundits and fans was mixed, with many of the former feeling a little deflated by the whole thing.
Behind those murmurs of discontent were the players not drafted by the Rams, seen as opportunities lost. And it's still hard to disagree with that notion based on a couple of picks, i.e. doubling up on tight ends. Alex Barron was supposed to make the Rams draft better, by giving them an extra pick; they would have taken a third rounder in compensation had some team made the RFA an offer. No team felt that Barron merited that kind of compensation. The Rams came out of the draft with an extra offensive tackle, Rodger Saffold in the second round, but just one linebacker, seventh rounder Josh Hull from Penn State.
With grade cards turned in, the Rams made a somewhat surprising move to swap Barron for OLB Bobby Carpenter, improving their offseason haul if not bolstering their letter grade for the draft.
Take a look at this trade from a value perspective. The Rams had one year left with Barron, who would have played here in 2010 on an RFA offer. After that, he most certainly would have walked; the Rams sure didn't want to keep him beyond that. GM Billy Devaney wasn't able to get an extra pick, but he did at least get some return for Barron, a young linebacker who still has some upside and at the worst gives the Rams a valuable role player in the nickel defense.
I'll admit, given the Rams recent run of luck with OL injuries, losing a capable starter is tough to swallow. But other than his track record of health, Barron wasn't really worth keeping around. For the Rams, he was no better than a third OT, the swing tackle that he's expected to be in Dallas. Mike Sando said this about Barron yesterday in a discussion on his Facebook page:
Who were the elite pass-rushers Barron shut down so frequently? If he were that good and that consistent, he would be going to Pro Bowls and signing a long-term deal, not getting traded for Bobby Carpenter. Agreed that Barron was not horrible when he played well, but the Rams are trading one year of him.
The Rams get the OLB they need, and though Bobby Carpenter hardly qualifies as a prospect anymore, he is young - he'll be 27 this season - and still has potential. Carpenter was the last first round pick of the Parcells Era in Dallas, a classic example of a prospect whose development was hurt by regime change. He should be better suited to a 4-3 defense, and, as I mentioned yesterday, the Rams coaching staff has a good track record for developing linebackers. They're gambling that they can extract the potential that made Carpenter a first round pick.
It's a good trade for the Rams. They've now upgraded their linebackers, even if Carpenter never transcends beyond a situational player, it was a situation that the Rams needed help with. The Rams draft looks better now because the Saffold (who many regarded as a first rounder) pick gave the Rams a starter whose personality fits the mold they want and allowed them to move Alex Barron.