After a wild signing period, the dust is starting to settle on NFL free agency. Teams gobbled up players over the course of a wild ten days, with a few fish still swimming around in the pond. The end of the lockout and beginning of the new league year yesterday finally gave those players a chance to suit up for their new teams One day, one practice...much less a month worth of games for these new players, seems like as good a time as any to start assigning grades, no?
The St. Louis Rams earned high marks from one expert. Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc. slash ESPN gave the Rams an "A" for their additions. Some players get obvious props, Harvey Dahl for instance, but one player getting some love from the tape grinders is linebacker Zac Diles.
Learn more with me below the jump.
Here's what Williamson said about the Rams' moves.
In case you didn't know, [Quintin] Mikell is one of the best safeties in all of football. This is a perfect situation for him: With Steve Spagnuolo in command, his production is about to increase. Dahl also is a fantastic fit as Spagnuolo continues to make the Rams more physical. With Bell returning, the offensive line starters are set. Offensive coordinators Josh McDaniels got way more out of Brandon Lloyd last year than anyone could have expected. Sims-Walker just might be his next project and the No. 1 wide receiver for the Rams. He needs to stay healthy, but don't be shocked if Sims-Walker has a big season in this offense. Signing Sims-Walker to a one-year deal to keep him motivated could pay off in a big way. [Cadillac] Williams is a tough guy, and his veteran presence and competitiveness could be assets to the Rams.
Diles is an under-the-radar signing who fits Spagnuolo's defense extremely well. He will be productive and often around the football. [Daniel] Muir and [Justin] Bannan both have starting experience, but neither is dynamic. Muir could be the starter, though, and both should help keep the interior rotation fresh. The Rams are now the best team in the NFC West, and their decisions in free agency are a major reason.
Interesting take on Muir vs. Bannan.
Besides "best," I would argue most complete, which is really sort of the same thing since completeness is a huge factor in the NFL. A tougher schedule gives head coach Steve Spagnuolo a chance to show off just how complete this team is.
Before I wrap this up, I want to share something another expert said about Diles. Greg Cosell of NFL Films has been watching tape and evaluating players for two decades. Check out what he said about Diles last week:
I like Diles skill set better than Tulluch. Issue will be durability + availability. Tulluch has lined up more often, more consistently.
It remains to be seen whether or not Poppinga or Vobora start on the strongside. Whichever one of those players starts brings toughness to the position, and the Rams linebackers could go from a weakness to a real strength.
I'm working on my own take on the totality of the Rams free agent moves, which may not be finished, at least in terms of adding depth. In the meantime, be sure to offer your take on the Rams free agent moves in the poll below or over in the fanposts if you're feeling really wordy.