From my seat I want to smell the burnt gunpowder from the fireworks and have its smoke burn my eyes. I want the white bubbles from the foam of the Budweiser to run down my face. I want to hug the perfect stranger who has been screaming next to me for the past three hours. I want to throw my wife into the air in celebration. I want to look up into the sky and see a tsunami of blue and gold confetti raining down on me. I want the feeling of joy and silent euphoria to overcome my body as if I have my arms out ascending into Heaven. I want to once again feel what it is like to be a Super Bowl Champion.
Everyone knows that the NFL is a quarterback league. Just look at the eight quarterbacks for the teams in the playoffs this weekend and look at who is drafting in the first five picks in the draft.
Our quarterback Sam Bradford is arguably the player in the NFL with the largest question mark behind his name.
Who is Sam Bradford? The reality is we do not know which puts us in a precarious position with wide ranging results and implications. The positive spin on our precarious position is that it is likely to gain clarity during the 2014 season. It is important for our team to execute a strategic plan that allows our team to be Super Bowl Champions under ALL scenarios. So what do we know about Sam?
We know Sam is tough and has the size you want in a quarterback.
We know that he can be very accurate.
We know he loses far more games than he wins.
We know he is book smart.
And we know that he has missed a number of games in both college and pros because of injury.
In 2014 we need to learn things about Sam.
Is Sam a mentally quick enough decision maker and risk taker to win consistently? Does he have the cognitive dexterity and reactionary abilities to be a Super Bowl Champion? I have watched every single game that Sam has played live at the Dome. He doesn’t go through progressions and constantly checks it down to the safest and least rewarding option. Is this a habit that can be broken? And for all those excuse makers saying that Sam doesn’t have a line that allows him to succeed or an offensive coordinator look around the league. Sam has always had around league average time in the pocket to throw the ball and he creates very little time on his own. The elite quarterbacks lose linemen and still win. Peyton, Brady, Big Ben all lost their top linemen during the past seasons and still succeeded. Sam is out of excuses as his next start will be his 50th game.
We do not know if Sam is a leader. Meaning that if he has the "IT Factor". The "IT Factor" is that intangible quality of being a winner. The "IT Factor" is contagious to a team where a team never gives up in the face of adversity because they believe in their leader. Leadership comes in many different styles. We saw two perfect diametric examples of "IT factor" leadership this year in college. Johnny Football in your face "Remember the Alamo" outspoken style. And the quiet confident positive calm of Jameis Winston. The only reason those teams battled back from adversity in their bowl games is because they BELIEVED. They believed in their quarterback and you can see it in their teammates’ eyes.
Les Snead needs to learn a lesson on navigating unknown situations from our military. In the Marine Corps, we go into violent situations with huge unknowns. We assume things are going to go badly – people are going to die, maps are going to be wrong, plans are going to fail, tactics are going to fail, machines are going to break. In the Marine Corps we create contingency plans to account for these scenarios. Contingency plans are plans in place that assume our best guess plans are wrong. The goal of the contingency plans is to make sure that we will complete our mission successfully with the least amount of casualties under different scenarios – some good some bad.
So here you are Snead – Don’t @#$% this up for our city. The Saint Louis Rams are far too important to the city of Saint Louis. People’s lives and families who are supported by ticket sales are on the line.
Here are the scenarios for the Saint Louis Rams:
Scenario A – Sam is great and stays healthy. Result - We are a playoff team
Scenario B – Sam is great and gets hurt again. Solution - We need a backup to step in that is as good as Sam.
Scenario C – Sam is average. Solution - We need a top 10 franchise QB that can get us to the playoffs. You are welcome for the $60,000,000+ we paid you.
Scenario D – Sam is a loser. Not in the human sense but in the win/loss column. Solution - We need a top 10 franchise QB that can get us to the playoffs.
So here is my Mock Draft - Marine Corps Contingency Style.
2015 1st round pick. Pay attention here maggots…2015.
These values are consistent with the draft value chart.
Pick 1.13 – Trade this pick to a Playoff Team or near playoff team for the following.
2015 1st round pick
This would allow us to: 1.) fill a number of holes this year, 2.) take a shot at a great backup QB in the second round of 2014, AND 3.) give us the AMMUNITION to move up in 2015 to get Winston if Sam flops in 2014.
So here is my Mock:
Three Second Round Picks:
2a Kelvin Benjamin WR FSU – Benjamin can jump out of the gym and is the Red Zone target the Rams badly need. He caught 15 TDs this year from Winston. Under the "bad" contingency plans we could reunite him with Winston. He may fall from his combine performance as he lacks the elite speed and does not run crisp routes. Player comparison: Alshon Jeffery.
2b Zach Mettenberger QB LSU – Mettenberger is NFL ready. He is a big strong kid with the best arm in college. I really like how he goes through his progressions and is willing to take shots when he knows he has favorable matchups. The kid has brains and character. He screwed up as a teenager but was voted by his teammates as the team captain at LSU. Mobility is not his game so his knee injury should not be an issue for him. He has a quick release for throwing the ball with such velocity. Besides Bridgwater, Johnny Football and Bortles he is the only college QB that has a shot to be an NFL starter. I believe he will be the best of the bunch. He would have been the number one or two quarterback in this draft if he didn’t get hurt. Player Comparison: Big Ben Roethlisberger
2c Kyle Fuller Shut Down Cornerback Virginia Tech – Exactly what the Rams secondary needs. He is a long and great cover corner. He is on the wide receivers like a Brazilian Jujitsu Black Belt is on a kick boxer. He has a sports hernia which is the only reason that he has fallen. Drafting Fuller would allow us to get out from under the contract with Finnegan in 2015. Player Comparison: Joe Hayden
Two Third Round Picks:
3a Joel Bitonio LT/LG University of Nevada - Here is some serious OLINE talent and value in the draft. Bitonio played LT at Nevada and did an outstanding job smothering some of the best pass rushers in college like Anthony Barr from UCLA. He has the endurance to handle the onslaught of rushers from the likes of the Seachickens. I like his quickness when he pulls so can slide in and play guard. I believe that he can be a day one starter at left guard for us and can play left tackle if Long isn’t on the roster for opening day. Player Comparison: Josh Sitton
3b Bryan Stork C FSU - When you watch tape on him he wins battle after battle in the trenches. I don’t know if I saw him get beat on tape. He is also the center for Winston. The fact that Barrett Jones didn’t see the field after being dominated in preseason is a concern. I see Jones more as a utility type lineman that can fill in for the inevitable injured starters. Player Comparison: John Sullivan
Trade both 4ths to move into the 3rd round to draft Terrence Brooks Ball Hawk Safety FSU – Brooks is the athletic safety the Rams need. He is very instinctive and plays fast. Miscommunication on defense got him burned against Auburn which may hurt his draft stock a bit. The more and more tape you watch on him the more you like him. On tape he is always around the football, reading the QB, reacting, and making tackles and interceptions. Player Comparison: Jarius Byrd
5th – Michael Schofield RT University of Michigan - The best National Football League lineman on the University of Michigan football team may in fact be the right tackle – not left. Schofield gets off of the football quickly and has a great first step. He is tall at 6’6" and long and will grow into his frame. He currently weighs 304 but should put on more weight and muscle. He is a perfect addition to our line depth that is badly needed. If Lewan would have declared last year, Schofield would be a potential 1st round LT. Player Comparison: Doug Free
6th – Justin Ellis DT Louisiana Tech – This guy is great to watch on film. He has a huge body and is very quick off the ball for such a big man. He is no flash and all power bull rush. He would be a great addition to our DT rotational on running downs especially short yardage defensive formations. Player Comparison: Refrigerator Perry
7th – Josh Stewart WR Oklahoma State – Crisp route runner who is always open. He will be the steal of the draft if he falls here. Player Comparison: Danny Amendola
7th – Zach Fulton G Tennessee – He is a big bodied long player with upside that will add depth to our oline. He is durable as he started 35 consecutive games for the Vols.
UDFA – Ryan Smith FS Auburn – Efficient tackler for special teams.
The NFL is a quarterback league. Les better make sure that the Quarterback position is top ten in the league or we are going to be in the same boat as Houston, Jacksonville, Oakland, Minnesota, and Cleveland. We will then be forced to leverage our future like Washington did with us. This is a deep draft that affords us the opportunity to become a legitimate playoff contender, IF Sam is great in 2014, without drafting in the first round. If Sam is great, we will have the picks to get three 1st round players and two second round players in 2015. If Sam disappoints, we need the picks to move up in 2015 to get a franchise QB.
Don’t @#$% it up Snead. Having a winning football team is too important to our city and to our dreams of winning another Super Bowl. I want to feel like a Champion again.