CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Linebacker James Laurinaitis #55 of the St. Louis Rams shakes hands with members of the military prior to their game agains the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
It's been three long years since the 2009 draft. Just like every draft, there was hope that this draft would be the one that would get the Rams over the top. That didn't happen.
This draft was supposed to be the foundation draft, something the Rams could build around. In that sense, they did that with the defensive picks, but unless you consider Jason Smith a building block, this draft did nothing for the offense.
There's one thing that I hate the most, and that's grading the draft right after the draft has ended. I understand it, after watching players for months, sometimes you just have to voice your opinion.
However, I think the best thing to do is be patent and wait for three years. Unless less it was an Al Davis(R.I.P) draft, then you can give as many D's and F's as you want.
Anyway, below the jump I graded the players that the Rams drafted in 2009
I graded this draft on current performance, where they we're drafted, not who the Rams could have drafted, their current standings with the team.
Round 1 Jason Smith Grade C-
Here''s Ryan on Jason Smith, after the draft
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.
If you want a detailed review of Smith, here's something that I wrote a month or so ago, however I'm sure I can sum it up quick. He wan't worth a first or second round pick. He's an over-payed right tackle, that everyone thought would be a franchise left tackle. The only reason he's even D+, is because, well the top 10 sucked, and he's still a starter.
Round 2 James Laurinaitis A
Here's Ryan on James, after the draft
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.
He's been the most consistent player on the Rams defense since he was drafted. James isn't a Ray Lewis type of linebacker, he won't make those giant hits, he also won't catch Sproles if he has 5 yards on him. However, he's proven to be a great leader, and has made plays. If the best middle linebacker wasn't in his division, James would get more love.
Now that the Rams have a solid defensive line, James should have a great season this year.
Round 3 Bradley Fletcher B+
Here's Ryan on Fletcher, after the draft
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.
Fletcher, is a really talented corner. The only bad thing about him is his injury history. Two knee injuries since he was drafted doesn't look good on a resume. Last season, could have been the last time that he will be able to play in a Rams uniform. Honestly I liked him more than Bartell, he's an above average corner.
However drafting two cornerbacks this year, could mean that Fletcher is on the outside looking in. Or, they could just use the depth, which if you remember last year, they really need depth at corner.
Round 4 Darell Scott D
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.
Here's Ryan on Scott after the draft
A rotational guy, nothing more, nothing less.
Round 5 Brooks Foster F
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.
Out of the league
Round 6 Keith Null F
Here's Ryan's take on Null, after the draft
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.
Last time I checked, he was a backup somewhere.
Round 7 Chris Ogbonnaya F
Here's Ryan's take on Chris, after the draft.
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.
He was the Browns' third down back last season.
Final grade C
No, I don't add all the grades up. However the Rams got a franchise middle linebacker, and two other starters, with a rotational defensive tackle. They are still on the roster, plus you can never count on the lower drafted guys. If Smith played better, this grade would have been a B.