The Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers approached the 2012 Draft with two different philosophies. The Eagles were intent and shoring up a defense that had faultered in 2011, and set about to reenergize that unit with a dedicated influx of talent from the draft. The 49ers, on the other hand, returns a solid defense from 2011 and sought to acquire offensive playmakers from the draft to surround Alex Smith. What I found interesting is what these two teams accomplished, and what the Rams were able to accomplish, in the 2011 Draft.
The All Defense Draft of the Eagles
1) Fletcher Cox
3) Vinny Curry
The Eagles began their draft by taking Fletcher Cox, a large defensive tackle that the Eagles hope will anchor their defensive line for a long time. After Cox, the Eagles took Mychal Kendricks, the first linebacker taken in the second round and whose talents were widely respected by most scouting services. On their next pick, the Eagles returned to the defensive side of the ball and addressed unit they were the weakest (defensive line), selecting Vin Curry, another solid prospect who many felt would be taken a little higher than he went.
Compare what the Eagles did with what the Rams did. The Rams took Michael Brockers three picks after the Eagles took Cox. Brockers is a large defensive tackle that the Rams hope will anchor their defensive line for a long time. Most scouting services had Cox and Brockers close in value, although we know from Michael Silver's article that the Rams had Brockers slightly favored over Cox. After Brockers, the Rams took Janoris Jenkins, the first cornerback taken in the second round and whose talents were widely respected by most scouting services. The Rams took Trumane Johnson at the top of the third round to augment a defensive unit they had already supplemented earlier in the draft. Like Curry, Johnson was a highly regarded talent who was thought to go a little higher than where he was taken.
So the Rams All Defensive Draft looks like this
The Eagles draft was lauded by many as one of the better drafts. Yet I contend that the Rams' draft was every bit as talented and as formidible as the Eagles draft.
The Offensive Playmaker Draft of the 49ers
1) A. J. Jenkins
4) Joe Loney
The San Francisco 49ers sought to find some weapons for Alex Smith in the 2012 Draft. With the 30th pick, they selected wide receiver A. J. Jenkins. Jenkins was the fourth receiver taken overall, and a bit of a surprise given some of the other names on the board. However, it is believed that Jenkins was more highly regarded by teams than by the scouting services. The Rams had Jenkins rated as their 3rd best receiver. The Niners followed up the selection of Jenkings with LaMichael James in the second round, an undersized all purpose running back to support Frank Gore. James was thought to be a playmaker and home run hitter who can score from anywhere on the field. The 49ers did not select anyone in the third round, but selected an interior offensive lineman Joe Loney late in the 4th round to help their line's interior.
Turning to the Rams, they selected Brian Quick three picks after the Niners took Jenkins. Like Jenkins, Quick was a bit of a surprise but the Rams had Jenkins and Quick rated very similarly, with a slight edge to Quick (again, per Michael Silver). The Rams then selected Isaiah Pead in the second round. Pead is an undersized all purpose running back who will support Steven Jackson. Pead is also believed to be a home run threat who can score from anywhere on the field. The Rams took an interior offensive lineman at the top of the fifth round to beef up their offensive line's interior. In addition, the Rams added another weapon in Chris Givens, a speedy wide receiver who it is hoped can stretch the field and open things up underneath for some of the Rams other receivers. So the Rams Offensive Playmaker Draft looks like this:
I don't think it is a stretch to say that the Rams' All Defensive Draft is very comparable to the Eagles well-reviewed 2012 draft. Moreover, it would not be unreasonable to say that the Rams Offensive Playmaker Draft compares favorable with San Francisco's 2012 Draft. While we all know that the success of this draft will be measured by the performances of the players on the field, by having what amounts to two 2012 Drafts I believe that the Rams are hastening their turnaround and have dramatically improved the talent on their team.