NFL Films executive producer and all-around football guru Greg Cosell knows a few things about football. As the top football mind at NFL Films and the producer of ESPN's weekly matchup show, it's Cosell's job to watch hours and hours of tape. When he talks, you listen. He had a few things to say about the St. Louis Rams this week on Adam Caplan's weekly "Fantasy Guru" podcast.
Rams rookie receiver Chris Givens was one of the first players they talked about, after a cursory review of Thursday night's garbage game in Oakland. Here's what he had to say about the Rams' fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest.
I think his movement ... there are similarities to Mike Wallace. Givens can run. He's very quick; he's got natural quickness as a route runner.
You made an interesting point too about taking away the deep ball. The other factor when you play the 49ers is their pass rush, and I think what the Rams did was design offense so that the ball came out of Bradford's hands quickly. They didn't want deep drops, so it ended up being a short passing game. That's good coaching.
I think Givens showed last week that he can make shorter catches. I'd still like to see more of him running intermediate routes. How is he as a route runner? Does he know set up corners and does he know how to sit in voids, the things that make for quality receiving from week to week. But there's no question the kid has great movement skill.
Alright, don't let the lofty comparisons get too mixed up in your head. Givens is still learning the game, but his progress and growth this season can't be overlooked.
Wallace was a third-round pick in 2009, landing in an established Steelers offense. He finished the season with 39 catches for 756 yards and six touchdowns. Givens could match those totals if he continues his blistering pace through the last four games. The Rams' rookie already has 33 catches for 559 yards and three touchdowns. That comes after a slow start; Givens has just four catches for 112 yards and a touchdown in his first five games.
Givens' 16 catches in his last two games already tops any two-game stretch Wallace put together as a rookie, but the Steelers did have a more diverse offense then than the Rams do now.
The next step for the Rams receiver, as Cosell suggests here and Fisher suggested earlier, is to become a more complete receiver.
Cosell also had some praise for the Rams defense. And guess what, he added that the team needs a safety ... it's like he reads what you guys are saying here at TST!
I love their front four. I love Michael Brockers, their first-round pick. I think he's going to be an all-pro type player. He's a phenominal athlete. Last week against the 49ers they were using him to drop into coverage on zone blitz schemes. There were plays in which - I mean, he didn't run down the field with Vernon Davis - but there were plays in which he basically covered Vernon Davis in a short area. We know about Quinn and Long. They've got a nice mix inside. I think their linebacking corps needs to get a little stronger, and they need help at safety. But for the most part, this is a fundamentally sound, solid defense.
You can listen to the whole thing here.