2011 NFL Draft Grades: Reactions to the Rams draft class

2011 NFL Draft grades are coming in fast and furious. Personally, I'm taking a little time to soak it in, collect thoughts and then rush to judgement before a single snap of training camp happens. And what are the chattering classes saying about the St. Louis Rams draft grade?

Mel Kiper's draft grades gave the Rams a B. We looked at what the Hair had to say earlier this morning. 

Rob Rang gave the Rams a B+. The Quinn pick earned particularly high marks from Rang. 

...the Rams were in the fortuitous position of having a true playmaker fall to them. Some teams were worried about the North Carolina pass rusher Robert Quinn's benign tumor and year-long suspension, but at No. 14 overall, Quinn simply presented too much value at a difference-making position to allow to fall further. Quinn, 6-4 and 265 pounds, gives the Rams an explosive edge rusher who will complement the play of emerging base end Chris Long and veterans James Hall and Fred Robbins. Quinn, whose 2009 tape showed the type of explosiveness to warrant top five consideration, could emerge as a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in St. Louis.

Of the offensive players collected:

...added playmakers for young franchise quarterback Sam Bradford with their next three selections, adding Wisconsin tight end Lance Kendricks and a pair of prototypical possession receivers in Boise State's Austin Pettis and Hawaii's Greg Salas. Pettis and Salas, each big, strong and possessing excellent hands, are essentially carbon-copies of each other. They'll give Bradford a pair of reliable targets, but neither has the speed to stretch the field.

And Rang's sleeper pick of the bunch:

Of the Rams' late day three picks, I'm actually highest on their last one -- Oklahoma safety Jonathan Nelson -- taken in the seventh round.

More reactions below. 

Jon Dove at Mocking the Draft gave the Rams a C+. Here's his take:

I really like the Quinn pick but the rest were a bit questionable. Kendricks and Pettis went earlier than I expected as both have limited upside. I think Salas will be a good player but is very similar to Danny Amedola.

Is Salas scrappy enough for that comparison? Time will tell.

ESPN's Mike Sando is putting out some grades for each NFC West team right now. The Rams' grade card isn't out yet, but he did drop a few thoughts post-draft. On the offense:

New coordinator Josh McDaniels added two receivers and a movement tight end across the second, third and fourth rounds. It'll be interesting to watch his offense come together. 

Part of the cognitive dissonance between fan reaction to the draft and the outcome has a lot to do with expectations based on past experience. The Rams are undertaking a pretty significant shift on offense, one with personnel implications. What the Rams do at receiver and what they do at running back are going to look a little different than the needs that emerged during the season. Obviously we'll be getting into much more detail in the days, week and months ahead. 

On defense, where the philosophy isn't changing, just finally coming to fruition, Sando said this:

The Rams went into this draft needing an outside linebacker. They didn't draft a prototypical one early, but they did pick up two players with an eye toward diversifying various defensive packages. Fifth-rounder Jermale Hines projects more as a safety than linebacker, although he can play both depending on the situation. Seventh-rounder Jabara Williams is a weak-side linebacker. Both are around 220 pounds. If one or both sticks, coach Steve Spagnuolo should have specific plans for them.

Scheme and system have been the hallmarks of the Rams improved defense under Spagnuolo. An improved pass rush will have a dramatic impact on the rest of the defense. How much these players can contribute right away remains to be seen, but they do have a solid track record of using rookie defenders right away, getting them in the right, limited role in the system. 

Adam Caplan at Fox Sports gives the Rams a B...seems to be a theme, no?

The Rams appear to have put together another solid draft class. General manager Billy Devaney does a really nice job of drafting for value.

Emphasis on the word "value" here. It's part of the reason why Devaney's draft results look different than the innumerable draft boards put together by people outside the organization, in the pundit world and in highly accurate 140-character outsider analyses on Twitter.  

Friend of TST Evan Silva at Rotoworld gives the Rams their lowest marks, a C-

It's disturbing that G.M. Billy Devaney yet again refused to draft a running back with Steven Jackson on the decline. The Rams went with positional need -- theoretically -- over value when they selected Kendricks instead of Mikel Leshoure at No. 47. Kendricks well may have been available at 78, and the same goes for Pettis at No. 112. While Quinn was one of the better picks in round one (he was a top-five player on at least one draft board), Devaney's way of addressing his weakest spots was seemingly to toss multiple uninspiring picks at the positions. The Rams got one good pass rusher in this draft. We're not sure they improved in any other area.

I'm much more optimistic about the picks themselves, but the linger question that will hang over this draft class is what the Rams did, or didn't do, at running back. I was all about the potential Leshoure pick, and even in the absence of a back like that, I think the Rams would be smart to get a complementary guy to handle some of the bruising between-the-tackles stuff and let Steven Jackson do more work on the outside and as a receiver. The receivers are an upgrade over what the Rams have now in terms of possession guys. 

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