DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 29: Safety Matt Daniels #40 of the Duke Blue Devils defends against a pass to split end Jarrett Boykin #81 of the Virginia Tech Hokies October 29, 2011 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. The Hokies won 14-10. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Editor's note: I promised to tell Deven Pfister where I hid his car if he'd do a few more articles for us. I hope you enjoy his second TST guest post.
As the season approaches, more and more Rams fans try to predict the players who will eventually make the Rams final roster. They’re looking for strengths, weaknesses, potential and even scheme fits. Since a guy with a moustache who stars in music videos can do it, why can’t we? So, in that case, maybe I offer all of you arm-chair GMs and Head Coaches a little help? For the next few weeks, I will be posting profiles of three rookies on the Rams roster at a time. Three rookies at a time for 33 rookies - you do the math. I’m out of school right now, so no math for me.
Each player will be labeled as potential starter, freak or training camp star. Potential starters will be players I see with a lockdown spot on the roster. Freak, will be a label given to players with the potential to make the team based on raw athleticism or rare qualities (size, strength, speed). Training camp stars will be players who have little to no chance of making the final roster. These players have the toughest road ahead of them, and must work to impress in camp - thru preseason - in order earn a spot on the 53 man roster or practice squad. Sure, most of you may not agree with me, and then again you may think I'm not so far off? Tell me what you think in the comments...
Group 1 - Starter:
Chris Givens - Wide Receiver, Wake Forest
Givens has quickly become one of my favorite draft picks from this year. A junior coming into the draft - thought to be an early 2nd round pick - just happened to drop to the Rams in the 4th round. A definite steal by Fisher and Snead, Givens is ready to make an impact immediately. At 5’11" 198lbs, he’s surely not going to overpower you with Calvin or Fitz like size, but his intangibles are what make him rare. One of those intangibles is his impressive speed. While a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine is great, it’s his second gear that makes him special. After he gets the ball in his hands, the man can book it - averaging 16 YPC his last season at Wake Forest. While many speedsters in the NFL seem to be one-trick ponies, Givens is a great route runner. His route running is so good in fact, many analysts draw comparisons to Jeremy Maclin - one of the best up and coming wide receivers in the league. If Givens ends up being anywhere near as good as Jeremy Maclin, the Rams could easily have one of the best steals in recent draft history.
Givens has a short injury history with a torn ACL in his left knee he suffered during his senior year of high school. Any worries should be put to rest as Givens only missed two games his whole collegiate career (one freshman year, one sophomore year). Givens also shows some really solid ability to catch with his hands, but can sometimes get caught up looking over his shoulder. He does possess the toughness to go over the middle of the field, but he does get alligator arms occasionally.
The only knock against him has really been his willingness to be a blocker. He’s a very tough guy, but he’s not as physical as he really should be. In college, he was jammed at the line quite a bit by corners and it threw his routes and timing off. Bigger corners in the NFL will enjoy throwing him around his rookie season until he learns how to better engage a corner. He does have a mean jab step, which seems to be his only defense against corners. Big things are expected of Givens in St. Louis, and even Bradford has praised him for his speed out of the blocks. The Rams haven’t had a home run threat at receiver for too long, or at least since Isaac Bruce and Tory Holt. While playing just three years at Wake Forest, Givens is in virtually the top 5 of every wide receiver category. He even broke the school’s single season receiving record, held by none other than former Ram - Ricky Proehl. Needless to say, if Givens produces anything like Proehl, or plays anything like Maclin, the Rams have a dynamic weapon on their hands.
Matt Daniels, all that can be said is "wow". Watching some of the games this guy played in, makes you curious as to why he was undrafted? Daniels posted 126 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 14 break ups, one forced fumble and two INTs. He earned All-ACC first team honors, as well as Duke’s Team MVP. He ranked third in the NCAA in tackles per game with 10.5. So I’m sure now all of you are asking: "Well sure, stats, numbers, blah-blah-blah, why is he a freak?" Watch this guy light people up. I recommend everyone look up Daniels’s highlight reel. He didn’t only put people on the ground, he put them on the ground with gruesome force. Not many receivers or running backs were willing to get back up after some of the hits he delivered.
Daniels was constantly flying all over the field with almost reckless abandon, delivering crushing blows along the way. He has the speed, strength and athleticism to be an excellent strong safety - especially in run support. The leadership he showed at Duke is something that can’t be taught either. Being a natural leader is a talent few are graced with, and it will surely be a welcome addition to a young Rams defense. The Rams safety position seems to be set, with starters Stewart and Mikell. This will allow Daniels the chance to sit back and watch a savvy veteran in Mikell, and learn how to play the position in the NFL. I see Daniels taking special teams duties this year - and a back-up strong safety role - allowing the Rams to cut the larger contract of Craig Dahl. In the future, when Mikell ages or if Darian Stewart becomes unreliable, I see Daniels as a potential starter with a huge upside.
Training Camp Star:
DeAngelo Peterson - Tight End, LSU
Here come the angry emails... Prank calls in the middle of the night (good luck with long distance out of the lower 48). First, hear me out. I do believe Peterson has some talent and skill, but the numbers just aren’t there. I know, I know! It’s the system right? But at 6’4", 235lbs, where does he fit into the Rams system? H-back? Blocking tight-end? A receiving TE, when he was rarely used that way at LSU? Sure, LSU ran the ball a lot, but do any of you really want a TE who caught only 18 balls his senior season? Even more depressing is his grand total of 179 yards and one TD. With an already crowded TE group, do we need another TE like Peterson?
He’s not going to blow anyone away with his blocking ability - something that will be asked often of tight-ends in a run heavy offense. Watching him struggle, even with some bigger linebackers in college, isn’t promising to tell the truth. He’s not going to blow you away with homerun plays, but he will be reliable. There is an outside chance he’ll make the practice squad, and somewhere down the line replace one of the free-agent addition tight ends (Eldridge, Mulligan), but right now I just don’t see it. Once he spends time with the system and the coaching staff figures out his role in the offense, I’m more than sure he’d be able to excel. I see Peterson’s best position being as an H-back - catching balls out of the back field as a mismatching sort of slot guy. He has the speed to get past linebackers (4.63 40-yard dash) and hands not many of the other TEs have on the roster. Brian Schottenheimer even remarked on Peterson’s potential. But right now he’s a project, "Fendi-esque" if you will.
Now you can send me angry emails. Address them all to Brandon Birkhead - he manages my fan mail... So you guys decide. Who stays and who goes? Whose spot on the roster do these three guys take?
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