First of all, as a group of St. Louis sports fans, we want to pause and send our thoughts and prayers to Josh Hancock, his family, his friends and his team. Sometimes, sports just don't seem all that important.
With the smoke form the draft cleared a bit, we can look back at how the Rams made out and their prospects for next season. As far as an overall grade, let's do that at the end of the post.
Carriker is money, and I've yet to see a pundit question his ability. Don't separate his skills from his highly touted work ethic and hunger to win; the two things aren't mutually exclusive. He may not be at his best in his first year in the NFL, but he should be able to step in right away and bolster the Rams defensive line. SBN's Husker site, Corn Nation, raved about Carriker this offseason making this pronouncement, "I'd argue that he's the best all-around defensive end prospect available for the NFL draft." Be sure to check out the rest of CN's Carriker preview, note his shuttle speed. Combine his skills and his intangibles, and Carriker easily ends the trend of defensive busts via the draft that have plagued the Rams for so long.
Already the talk is that he can convert and play DT, and that's great. I wonder though, if in the end, he'll wind up being a DE in the NFL? For now, the ability to play both positions is a real plus for the Rams, and Carriker could easily be playing on a good percentage of the downs. If Penn State is Linebacker U, then the University of Nebraska may well be DE U. Admit it, thoughts of Grant Wistrom danced through you head all weekend. There's a reason for that.
With all the talk of DTs and DEs and WRs, the Brian Leonard pick gave the Rams draft a little surprise; although, it wasn't a big surprise, as talk of the Rams wanting another running back to spell Steven Jackson AND become a serious threat on the offense. This pick was also made with visions of last season's red zone struggles in mind. Leonard's blocking ability should translate into success as a third down and goal line back, but don't be surprised to see some packages featuring both Leonard and Jackson on the field as receivers. This pick, along with the Bennett and McMichael acquisitions, gives the Rams a powerful offense for West Coast style plays, along with deep the constant threat of deep balls to Holt and Bruce. It's not going to be the Greatest Show on Turf; it's going to be better.
CB, Jonathan Wade improves the depth in the defensive backfield. He's fast, and I won't be surprised to see him on the kick off team. He's the perfect third round pick because he can immediately add depth, but has the raw potential to develop into a pretty good CB (some compare him to the double headed Fred Smoot).
Day two was all about depth with the Rams taking offensive linemen Dustin Fry and Ken Shackleford and defensive linemen Clifton Ryan and Keith Jackson Jr. On both sides of the ball, these picks should add much needed depth and allow the Rams to phase out aging veterans currently filling the depth role. Oddly enough, it's the two later round picks of Shackleford and Jackson that are the most intriguing as both seem to have lots of raw potential but a desperate need for some pro-level coaching and mentoring in order to take the next step in their development.
Our final pick of the draft, Derek Stanley is a speedster, but comes with all the question marks you'd expect for a D-III player. Nevertheless, his speed might make him a useful backup for Dante Hall.
Maybe it's just the relief of having waited with excitement for this draft or maybe it's a significant amount of hopes we're carrying for next season, but it seems like a much better all around draft than the Rams have had for a couple years now. Naturally, not all of these players will make it to the pro level, at least not as everyday players, and injuries are always a factor for football players, but nobody here seems to be waiving a red flag with high potential for being a wash out. Later, we'll start looking at how the experts assessed the Rams draft. For now, we'll just stick to how real Rams fans feel about it.
It's a solid A- given that the Rams were able to fill their needs and get players ready to step in and fill a role as well as players packed with potential. Personally, I've been too busy soaking in the info about the picks we did make (amongst other things on this busy weekend) and haven't thought much about what could have been done better, i.e. did we get the best pick we could in each round. Let's save that discussion for another day though.