A couple of months ago, the Rams addressed two of their major needs in the NFL Draft. The Rams drafted former LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers in the first round and former Appalachian State wide reciever Brian Quick in the second round.
Although both players fill a need for the Rams, some argued that they might not have been the best at their position during the draft. However, both players have upside, and after spending hours watching tape of both of them, it's easy to understand why the Rams loved them.
It wouldn't be fair of me not to share what I learned about these players, so after the jump, let's learn about the two players that the Rams will be leaning on this season.
I had a chat with Matt Miller, Bleacher Report's NFL Draft Lead Writer, after the combine, and he said that the Rams were interested in Mike Brockers. I'm not going to lie, I was skeptical. But he said that he was sure of his source, and the closer the draft got, the more I started to believe that the Rams would get a defensive tackle.
I really didn't know much about Brockers, I knew he was supposed to be a dominant run-stopper, and I would agree with that. He's a big man, so he should be able to clog the middle and make life easier for the Rams linebackers.
Is being a 6'5", 322 pounder, a strength? Well, it is to me. Like I mentioned earlier, he's a great run-stopper already, and he only played one full season of college football as a starter. Most of the time when he's not pushing the blocker back, he's standing his ground which usually means it's hard for the running back to run around Brockers and the blocker.
Then, what I found really impressive is his vision to make plays. I saw plays when he's blocked, then he disengages with the blocker and get the running back before they run past him.
I also like the way he uses his power when pushing the blockers back. He can keep the blocker in one spot with just one arm and swat at a ball, use a bull rush, a slow but effective shuffle around the guard and get around, a bullied swim move, or his developing spin move.
This was the most interesting thing to me about Brockers, but it can be seen as a weakness since it seems like a lack of technique. I seen a few plays where Brockers got lower than the guard, and tried to push his man back, sometimes it worked, but I saw a lot of times he got pushed back, tripped up, or he was just easy to move around. But when ever he could get his arms fully extended, that's where he did most of his damage.
Also, he really isn't a pass rusher. I don't like how one person can hold their own with Brockers, by themselves. Maybe it's because he doesn't get out off his stance fast enough.
This video is from the LSU and Georgia game last season. You see most of what I noticed in this one video.
0-0:37, I expect the pass rush to look more or less like this.
1:08-1:20, you see what happens when he doesn't extend his arms.
1:24-1:36, Notice how he penetrates on run plays, that's why the Rams needed him.
2:25, I would like to see Brockers develop his pass rushing moves like on this play.
2:39, Brockers gets beat, but still ends up on top of the pile.
2:46, he holds his man up, and then tackles the ball carrier.
3:17-3:50 he tackles the running back 3 times behind the line, using 3 different moves. the slow shuffle, the bullrush and the squeeze between the two blockers, and the Brockers exclusive hold you up with my left hand and then tackle the running back.
3:40, he gets low, doesn't extend the arms and falls.
3:55, he does a spin, sees the quarterback scrambles and not only gets the tackle, also gets a forced fumble.
Brockers is about as sure of a pick, as the Rams could get at 14. He really doesn't have many weaknesses, I'm not being a fan saying that. I really thought I was going to like Brockers, in fact, the first time I watched the three videos on him, I wasn't impressed. But then I looked past comparing him to Fletcher Cox (the best penetrating DT), and decided to think how will the Rams use him. The Rams needed a run-stopping DT, badly. They have Chris Long and Robert Quinn to pass rush at defensive end.
I don't expect Brockers to draw double teams week 1. He will have to work on his technique and start beating single man blocks, but it wouldn't surprise me if by mid-season he's being a destructive force. How well Brockers develops will have an impact on the entire defense. He might not have great stats his rookie year, but he could be the most important piece to the puzzle on defense.
When the beginning of the second round started, it was obvious that the Rams would go wide receiver. Would it be Stephen Hill, or Rueben Randle...
The Rams pulled a Lance Kendricks on me. I had no clue who this guy was, but he was big and talented, and he could catch. Sounded like an A+ to me. What put the icing on the cake is when WR coach Ray Sherman compared him to Terrell Owens. Wow, that's high praise.
After watching some plays of him, I don't blame the coaches for making that comparison. He's a big and physical wide receiver, and both are from small schools. I don't know if I would compare him to T.O, but I see why the Rams like him.
Before you see Quick run one play, you notice his height. He's 6'4", and it's easy to tell that. He also plays big. That might sound like a cliche', but that's the best way to describe it.
He makes tough catches in traffic, and takes big hits without dropping the ball. He also is good at breaking arm tackles, and although he doesn't do it often enough, he can use his athleticism to get around the tackle and get a gain of a few more yards.
Going back to the catches, he has nice hands. He has a wide catching radius. I saw him catch a couple of badly placed passes in hard to catch angles, and I was impressed with how he adjust with the ball in the air. I've seen him adjust his body in the air, shield the defender, and adjust to tip balls. I wasn't able to see much route running, but he looked good enough right now, still something that needs work though.
Being a former basketball player and being 6'4" works to his advantage, because he's good at boxing out and catching jump balls. And although he isn't a great blocker, he's better than most wide receivers at blocking.
Like any player, Quick has weaknesses also. The major one is that he's from an FCS school. Players have seen success in the league coming from the FCS, but it's hard to say if Quick would have looked as good playing in the SEC.
Quick, isn't really fast. He doesn't get a lot of separation constantly, he's more of an throw the ball up and he should come down with it guy. I didn't see many double teams on him, so it's hard to tell if he will be able to beat it, or single coverage for that matter.
There was a few times when Quick could have made a big play, but he was too close to the sidelines. Hopefully that doesn't happen in the pros, like it did in his last collegiate game.
This is Brian Quick vs. Virginia Tech.
Two things to note. He didn't get his first catch, until the score was 24-0.
He didn't make the next two plays, until the score was 52-0.
But these two plays are good plays.
0:27, does a nice spin after the catch and sprints down the field, burning the corner and breaking an arm tackle.
1:04, he catches the ball, breaks two tackles, right after he catches it, stumbles, and uses his hand to regain balance while running, and then breaks another tackle before going into the end zone.
Brian Quick vs Elon University 2011 (via phillyjimmyphilms)
0:40, you see him catch a tip pass, and break an arm tackle.
0:54-1:07, he adjusts mid-air to the ball, get's hit and hands on for the touchdown.
1:25, he breaks another tackle and gets a lot of yards after contact.
2:10, he dives down to catch a badly placed ball.
3:32, he ran a perfect route to beat the man coverage.
4:14, that was a good leaping sidelines catch.
After plenty of time watching Quick, I would be surprised if he doesn't start this season. You can hear the confidence in him by the way the Rams talk about him, and I'm sure that having Les Snead on his side doesn't hurt either. It's just hard for me to justify a rookie wide receiver having a great year.
Teams will probably put their best corner on him, or maybe even double cover him and make someone else beat them. Quick is the most talented wide receiver on the roster, but he will need a player to help take the pressure off of him as he adjust to playing with the big boys.
I expect him to thrive with short-to-intermediate routes, and we will see if he will be able to break tackles at the next level.
With that being said, I wish the Rams would ease Quick into a starting spot, but if they don't, I expect Quick to struggle this season.
I don't think he can consistently beat coverage, but with his leaping ability and wide catching radius, it might not matter.
He has the tools to be a good player in the league, and a solid go to guy for Bradford in year two. Could he be the next Terrell Owens? Maybe. He has a great skill set. It depends on how he adjusts to playing NFL caliber defenses, but I see why the Rams are excited to have him.
Just for your view pleasure
Michael Brockers talks NFL Draft on April 20th (via JAMES CARTER)
Brian Quick Tribute, Appalachian State, Saint Louis Rams (via xuesac84)