ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 12: Michael Brockers #90 of the St. Louis Rams looks on during rookie mini camp at the ContinuityX Training Center on May 12, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Rams' 2012 draft class received mixed reviews from various places. Any analysis of draft picks after a handful of practices without pads leaves a little to be desired, but it is a fair subject for discussion. This week, Cold Hard Football Facts rolls out with one of the more negative criticisms of the Rams' draft class I've seen, calling it "drifting and directionless."
They give the collection of 10 picks a 'D' grade. Why? Their take is the exact opposite of what Rams GM Les Snead said about the team's draft strategy recently.
CHFF's Kerry J. Byrne took issue with the decision to draft players at areas where the team was already fairly strong, namely defensive line and cornerback.
From Byrne's post:
For example, the Rams' first pick was a defensive tackle and its third pick was a cornerback - despite the fact that defensive front and pass defense were the team's two greatest strengths in 2011. St. Louis was No. 20 on the Defensive Hog Index and No. 16 in Defensive Real Passing YPA. Strength is a relative term, of course, and those were the only two areas in which the Rams approached competency last year. They were 31st overall in our Quality Stats Power Rankings.
The Rams did pick up several offensive lineman in free agency. But they otherwise largely failed to address the league's 31st-ranked Offensive Hogs in the draft, picking six different players before finally landing an O-Hog in the fifth round.
St. Louis's effort to solve its statistical problems in the draft wasn't as ugly as Seattle's F- performance. But it was pretty close. Hell, and people wonder why the NFC West sucks so bad.
Everybody has their own version of what a team should do in the draft. The overwhelming tendency among some has always been to try and use each pick to fill a position of need. We've seen that effort fail before in St. Louis. Part of the problem is that it leaves a team without much depth and depending on rookies.
Snead and Fisher made no secret of their deliberate strategy in the draft, as discussed in this post from Tuesday.
The Rams felt like defensive tackle was a priority this offseason. They feel like a starting tandem of Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford was a great way to beef up the run defense and give them some push in the middle of the line to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
Here's Snead's quote again on the thinking behind beefing up the defensive line and the secondary:
"Realize we're young so there's going to be (growing pains), but when you get units strong -- not just spreading out individual talent over the 11 -- units become, 'Wow.' The quarterback's got to get the ball off faster and then our DBs are good. We may steal some wins that we might not have done."
Like everything this time of year, it's ephemeral, still just a strategy, until we see how it plays out once the games start to matter.