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Grading the defense

First of all, let me apologize for not posting yesterday. I don't know what I came down with, but it was nasty. I thought it was just a cold, but then...well, I'll spare you the gory details. I sort of feel human again today, and am finally able to crawl more than 10 yards away from the toilet.

If you're like most people in the St. Louis sports radius, the Rams take a back seat today as the Cardinals kick off a season that looks to be kid of similar to the Rams 2007 season. Which is to say nothing special.

Before I pick it up with the defensive grades, I wanted to let you know that the SBNation Mock Draft starts today, so be sure to check in at Mocking The Draft to stay with it. Our pick should be up soon.

On with the Defense!

DT- What would have been a solid D this time last year, has greatly improved thanks to the 2007 draft. Adam Carriker has not disappointed and should come back from offseason surgery to build on a great rookie year. Clifton Ryan was the surprise of the draft, making it even easier to forget all about some guy named Kennedy.
Grade: B

DE- Having Little healthy helps, but the Rams desperately need another pass rusher. Hopefully, this year's draft does for the DEs what last year's did for the DTs.
Grade: C

LB- Witherspoon really came into his own this season, not that he was some throwaway before that. But the move to 3-4 let him release his inner pass rusher. If Pisa can stay healthy this season the Rams have two solid LBs. Losing Chillar hurts, and we're all a little unsure about how well Culberson can fill his shoes.
Grade: C+

Safety- Corey Chavous ain't what he used to be, and the Rams will need some help at SS. O.J. Atogwe is a gamer, and the Rams will have to act to make sure they don't lose him after this season. This is position in serious need of depth, maybe more so than CB even.
Grade: C

Corner- Another position in serious need of depth...and that Macklin guy just doesn't cut it. Bartell improved as the season went on and he was used to fill in for injured starters. Tye Hill at full strength should help the unit this season. Will idiot Fahkir Brown not be suspended for substance abuse violations again? Let's hope. Jonathan Wade has the potential, and we'll really need him to take it to the next level this season.  This is another position in need of help via the draft.
Grade: C

The defense is definitely getting better, but after going through it position by position, it's clear what the focus needs to be at this year's draft. Even home run picks through six rounds, virtually impossible, won't meet all the needs we have on this side of the ball, but putting together a solid defensive line should help make up for some deficiencies in the backfield, a la the NY Giants. Gee, I wonder who I'll take in the mock draft...