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Rams leaning toward Dorsey?

Update [2008-4-24 13:21:55 by VanRam]:Be sure to read 3k's take on the DT/DE/trade debate for the Rams draft. Note particularly that Carriker has beefed up to about 315, more in line with a DT than a DE, don't ya think?

Ok, other than keeping an eye on the news, I don't know what else there is to say about the draft. The Rams will either pick Dorsey, Chris Long, Vernon Gholston or trade down, and trying to determine which it will be is nothing but guess work now.

According to the PD today, Dorsey sits atop the Rams list of potential draft selections, but it's not written in stone just yet. It's safe to assume that they're going to listen to trade offers as well as debate whether or not to take a DE versus Dorsey until they have a consensus and/or completely exhaust the issue.

Not to get too tin foil hat on anyone, but it is worth noting that Dorsey's coveted by teams other than the Rams and leaking info to the press that the team has or is about to settle on him with the second overall pick improves their trade position by presenting interested trade partners with a united front, i.e. "we're going to get Dorsey so if you want him we'll only listen to serious offers. Genuinely intending to draft Dorsey and presenting the appearance that you want to draft Dorsey aren't mutually exclusive either.

Bernie Miklasz at the PD endorses the Dorsey pick, and weighs in on the DE vs DT debate with this:

"The Chicken Littles who want to draft Chris Long continue to cackle about the Rams' desperate need at DE. Sure, they need to address that area. But Carriker, the 13th overall draft pick in 2007, made his reputation at Nebraska at defensive end. Last season, in the Rams' final few games, Carriker lined up at DE on about one-third of the snaps."

Hopefully, that wasn't a shot at us (Bernie, man, we love you here at TST) but his case doesn't change my mind. Carriker did yeoman's work on the d-line last season, playing DT and DE. He lacks the burst to be the pure pass rushing end and doesn't get around tackles well enough for that role. However, he's a good DE in a 3-4, where he spent time as a DE late last season, because he can tie up two blockers while the rushing LB, Witherspoon, comes in for the sack. Carriker's a stud, no doubt about it, but he's not the 34-year-old Leonard Little's replacement.

Dorsey would be the centerpiece of the Rams d-line, hell, the centerpiece of their defense, and that would change how the DEs play. But, if the analysis is to be believed, Dorsey's not a 3-4 DT. And that's fine, the Rams could take him out to set up the 3-4 when Haslett feels it's necessary. However, in the base defense where he and Carriker would be in the middle, the Rams still don't have satisfactory depth at DE behind Little and the 31-year-old James Hall. Yes, Hall could be used in that package on pass rushes to tie up blockers while Witherspoon swoops in on the left and Little comes in on the right. That works fine until Little or Hall gets injured. Adeyanju has been a capable hand for the Rams, but he's become something of a run specialist. He'll have to develop into an average or better DE on pass plays without Hall or Little in the mix.

I could probably go on, but won't at the risk of starting to ramble and repeat myself. Yes, I think a DE is the better way to go with the second overall pick, but the Rams certainly won't be hurt by taking any of the possibilities at that spot.

The injury talk with Dorsey has been mostly put to rest, barring some whispers here and there. Will Carroll, who's made a name for himself as an injury guru at Baseball Prospectus and often contributes at sister site Football Outsiders, had this to say about Dorsey's injury history and its possible effect on his play in the NFL:

"Football is often described as a "guts" game. That's what it's going to take to draft Dorsey in the top of the NFL draft. Yes, he's a talented player who can dominate the line of scrimmage, but he also has extensive back and leg issues that often take him completely out of a game. He might have a case against Tommy Tuberville after a chop block cost him much of the 2007 season. All his knee and back problems can be traced back to this questionable play. Well, at 6-feet-2, 316 pounds, some of those back problems might have some other causes. One NFL medical staffer says that Dorsey's not going to be an every-down guy, needing some breaks, but that his quickness remained intact. Despite the injury concerns, and several scouts comparing him to Booger McFarland, Dorsey is expected to go early in the first round, though his inability to play in a 3-4 may slide him down if he doesn't go in the top five."

Dorsey wouldn't need to be an every down player, but his effectiveness at stopping the run as well as the pass, means he'll play a great deal, as the second overall pick in the draft should be expected to do. With an injury history, his intensity could also be something of a liability, making him more likely to soldier on when his body tries to tell him not to.

Lots of time to think about it between now and Saturday.