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Rams draft decision looms

Dominoes fell hard and fast yesterday after the Dolphins announced they had reached a deal with number one draft pick Jake Long. The 2008 draft picture got a little more focused (or blurry) when later in the day the Chiefs traded DE Jared Allen to the Vikings.

For the Rams, these news items change little, expect for maybe giving them another trade possibility in the draft and putting them "on the clock" for their pick in the draft. This much I'll bet you, the Rams won't make their first round pick until Saturday. League rules stipulate that only the team with the #1 pick can negotiate a contract. With that done, the Rams could now start negotiating with their pick. However, by all accounts they've yet to settle on who that pick will be. Note this from Linehan in the PD story:

"I don't even know that we would negotiate with anybody. I think we're probably going to take it to the end and pick a player"

They're also listening to trade offers, and would be wise to continue that until the buzzer sounds Saturday. The consensus possibilities for the Rams at #2, Chris Long, Gholston and Dorsey, are, as Linehan said, "difference makers." Other teams agree, and that's why everyone from the Saints, who covet Dorsey, to the Raiders whose need on the d-line and AFC West rivalry with the Chiefs might make moving up to #2 (from #4) a desirable option, netting them Chris Long and all the family affair talk.

I remain in the Gholston camp, but something Don Banks said at SI makes me wonder about Dorsey. He says, that the Rams could move Carriker back to DE if they draft Dorsey. They'd obviously need to do something like that, since they'd be loaded at DT but still short at DE, where the 34-year-old Leonard Little needs an understudy. Would Carriker be the rushing threat the Rams need at DE? How does he compare to Chris Long? That's a question the Rams need to address if they take Dorsey. Remember, a pocket crasher at DT is great, but a solid rush still needs DEs to be counted on for making the tackles. What happens if Little goes down? That's a very real possibility for a 34-year-old DE, and the Rams will need to know how ready Carriker is to be pass rushing DE. Don't forget James Hall either. He's no Leonard Little, but a solid presence on the right side. However, he is 31-years-old, making the injury threat among the Rams top two DEs an important factor to consider.

Here's the projected scenario for Carriker if the Rams do draft Dorsey from the PD's Jim Thomas in his chat yesterday:

If it's Dorsey, Dorsey and Carriker became the starters in the base defense, with Glover and Ryan rotating in off the bench. Carriker would move to end in certain situations. (Run downs, short-yardage, goal-line). He actually played a lot of end over the second half of the season. One reason why the Rams drafted Carriker is his versality. This would be the chance to use that versatility. Although Carriker isn't what you'd call the ideal pass rusher at end.

That would be great, but it still leaves the Rams with two 30+ DEs stop their depth chart.

There's still the issue of the second round, the 33rd pick. If the Rams take Dorsey in the first, they could still get a DE in the second. That makes getting an player for the o-line in the third round a real possibility. That plan would work well for the Rams. The second round DE wouldn't have to play every down, giving him some adjustment/learning time, but still effective enough to use in the right situations, i.e. pass rushing if they get a player like Groves.

If the Rams do trade down in the first round, depending on where they trade down to, don't forget about Branden Albert, the Virgina o-lineman mentioned in the comments yesterday. He's listed as a guard, but the feeling is that he could play OT as well as anyone in the draft not named Long. He would instantly become the Rams starter at RG, making the middle running lanes seem wider the never-to-be completed renovated I-40 for Steven Jackson. Again, that makes the d-line a priority for the second round. All told, I'm not sure that I wouldn't prefer going d-line in the first round, knowing what a difference that could make for the Rams immediately in 2008.  

Lots to think about with just three days to go.

The Cardinals could be trading Anquan Boldin, which makes for even more draft trade speculation.

Want even more trade speculation, AmpLee's got your fix.

Good news, the new Turf Show Times debuts on Friday!! Just in time to confuse the shit out of all of us right before the draft. No, just kidding. It'll be 10x better than the current version. Take a look at the new Niners Nation for a preview.